Rendering at the Edge – More Than Videos

By Mr. Edge, 3/11/19

The cloud brought tremendous performance gains to the application ecosystem. The ecosystem was “opened up” to create new application that could not be built in the previous world. The development of the cloud (and the work done by developers) changed how the applications were built forever. The edge can do the same, but putting only content at the edge is not enough to spark an ecosystem change…

Applications have long since been dependent on the cloud to operate 

Image result for video bufferingefficiently, but not without its own limitations. In addition to content performance suffering, the buffering and startup time take a hit. While a degree of performance reduction is acceptable (since we watch an endless number of videos on our phone), it’s nonetheless noticeable and frustrating.

Enter the Edge: The next solution enabling seamless content viewing on devices, with content stored closer to the end user—no matter what location—at the edge.

In our labs and out in our live deployment, Alef shows how content can load faster at the edge of the network than content stored and hosted in the cloud. We demonstrate edge rendering in our lab by edge-gaming: playing a multiplayer video game on a smartphone. The entire video game (outside of a forward-facing client application in order to start and stop the game) is rendered at the edge. None of the processing is on the phone itself.

So, we’re rendering an entire video game on a smartphone at the edge. Great. But why stop at rendering content? What will be next?

At Alef, we propose a revolutionary idea that could change the applications, smartphones and content forever: rendering the entire application at the edge.

If the entire application, not just the video, was hosted at the edge of the network and not on the phone, all that would be needed in order to open an application would be a front-facing client. The implications are tremendous. The landscape for the application world would change. The application could become much more intelligent, interactive and immersive. Edge applications would no longer be constricted by the constraints of the smartphone but only by the constraints of the network itself. Furthermore, smartphones would no longer require the most elite technology for memory, battery power, etc. The smartphones could focus on the screen and display itself. The smartphones could become a means in order to view the application and not a host of the application. Applications at the edge would allow smartphones to remove the technology that would no longer be needed. In other words, phones could get thinner, curved, foldable (happening now), or even lead to the creation of a new device we have not yet imagined.

For illustration purposes, visualize streaming and rendering an application onto a Google Glass, where the glass would no longer be the host of the application but how you view the application. The form factor for applications would be eliminated!

Rendering an entire application at the edge of the network would require an edge computing operating system for the network and the applications to take advantage of the edge. That is why at Alef, we have created the “OS” for the edge!


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