If you’re debating moving from Episode or Episode Pro to Episode Engine, one of the features that’ll help you get off the fence is Split-and-Stitch. While Episode can only handle one encode at a time and Episode Pro can only deal with two parallel ones, Episode Engine can handle an unlimited number of parallel encodes and – thanks to Split-and-Stitch – deal with them far faster and more efficiently.
So what does Split-and-Stitch do?
Telestream’s Split-and-Stitch technology enables Episode Engine to split a single encode (your clip or track) into multiple smaller chunks. It then distributes the smaller segments between all the available cores (or threads, if you’re hyperthreading) on your computer, so it makes more efficient use of your available CPU power and finishes the encode much faster. The file is then ‘stitched’ back together, ready for you to deliver.
Speeding things up with clustering
If you’re working as part of a cluster (a collection of machines on the same network that are all running some version of Episode and work together to encode jobs quicker), then only files originating from machines running Episode Engine can be split and stitched. However, any machine on the network can encode one of the smaller ‘split’ files, then send them back to the Engine-equipped machine for stitching.
If the machines in your cluster have different numbers of cores – say you have a dual core laptop, a quad core iMac and a 12 core Z800 – it makes sense to install Episode Engine on the machine with the most cores available, as the only limit to the number of encodes Engine can work on is the number available cores/threads in your machine. For example, a 12 core Z800 has the ability to do 12 parallel encodes, or 24 with hyperthreading turned on, so can do more simultaneous encodes, be that from jobs submitted by your machine or others on the cluster.
Putting the Episode Engine licence on a less able machine will still enable Split-and-Stitch to distribute the segments amongst the cluster, but the number of parallel encodes that machine can do will be choked by the number of cores available. A dual core processor will only be able to do a maximum of two encodes at once, so it’s likely more suited to Episode Pro rather than Episode Engine.
Got other things to do?
If a machine isn’t solely dedicated to encoding, you may not want Episode taking up all available CPU. Within the Split-and-Stitch settings, you can control various aspects of the encode, including the number of segments a clip is split into and the the maximum length of each of those segments. Observe:
Cross-platform splitting and stitching
If you’re working in an environment with a mix of Macs and PCs, don’t fear. Split-and-Stitch can be used in mixed platform clusters, and all of Episode’s many supported formats can utilise Split-and-Stitch.
However, the performance enhancements provided by Split-and-Stitch will vary depending on the file length, Split-and-Stitch settings, the available resources on your computer/cluster and the codec applied to the encode, with certain codecs being more efficient on multi-core computers (such as H264). Streamingmedia have a nice breakdown of the potential time differences here.
Split-and-stitch comes into it’s own when the time taken to encode a single file is critical, a file to be encoded is particularly long or you are faced with a particularly high data rate/file size. By breaking down the workload into smaller chunks that can be processed simultaneously, encode time is greatly reduced.
In an environment with a large volume of complex encodes, creating a cluster with at least one Engine present to enable Split-and-Stitch means work can be distributed between all available resources on the cluster nodes for the maximum encoding efficiency.
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