DASH and Streaming
MPEG-DASH divide the media file into segments which can be encoded at different bitrates or spatial resolutions. The segments are provided on a Web server and can be downloaded through HTTP standard compliant GET requests as shown in the figure below where the HTTP Server serves three different qualites, i.e., Low, Medium and Best choped into segments of equal length.
The adaptation to the bitrate or resolution is done on the client side for each segment, e.g., the client can switch to a higher bitrate – if bandwidth permits – on a per segment basis. This has several advantages because the client knows its capabilities, received throughput and the context of the user best.
In order to describe the temporal and structural relationships between segments, MPEG-DASH introduced the so-called Media Presentation Description (MPD). The MPD is an XML file that represents the different qualities of the media content and the individual segments of each quality with HTTP Uniform Resource Locators (URLs). This structure provides the binding of the segments to the bitrate (resolution, etc.) among others (e.g., start time, duration of segments). As a consequence each client will first request the MPD that contains the temporal and structural information for the media content and based on that information it will request the individual segments that fit best for its requirements.
Streams provide an asynchronous sequence of data, but when you try to stream a large file over a very small or limited network, the quality quickly degrades.
DASH is an adaptive bitrate streaming technology where a multimedia file is partitioned into one or more segments and delivered to a client using HTTP. A media presentation description (MPD) describes segment information (timing, URL, media characteristics like video resolution and bit rates), and can be organized in different ways such as SegmentList, SegmentTemplate, SegmentBase and SegmentTimeline, depending on the use case. Segments can contain any media data, however the specification provides specific guidance and formats for use with two types of containers: ISO base media file format (e.g. MP4 file format) or MPEG-2 Transport Stream.
DASH is audio/video codec agnostic. One or more representations (i.e., versions at different resolutions or bit rates) of multimedia files are typically available, and selection can be made based on network conditions, device capabilities and user preferences, enabling adaptive bitrate streaming and QoE (Quality of Experience) fairness. DASH is also agnostic to the underlying application layer protocol. Thus, DASH can be used with any protocol, e.g., DASH over CCN.
On July 27, 2015, MPEG LA announced a call for MPEG-DASH-related patents in order to create a single patent pool for this technology.
DASH stands for Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH), also known as MPEG-DASH, is an adaptive bitrate streaming technique that enables high quality streaming of media content over the Internet delivered from conventional HTTP web servers. Similar to Apple's HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) solution, MPEG-DASH works by breaking the content into a sequence of small HTTP-based file segments, each segment containing a short interval of playback time of content that is potentially many hours in duration, such as a movie or the live broadcast of a sports event.
MPEG-DASH is the first adaptive bit-rate HTTP-based streaming solution that is an international standard. MPEG-DASH should not be confused with a transport protocol — the transport protocol that MPEG-DASH uses is HTTP.
MPEG-DASH uses existing HTTP web server infrastructure that is used for delivery of essentially all World Wide Web content. It allows devices like Internet-connected televisions, TV set-top boxes, desktop computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. to consume multimedia content (video, TV, radio, etc.) delivered via the Internet, coping with variable Internet receiving conditions. Standardizing an adaptive streaming solution is meant to provide confidence to the market that the solution can be adopted for universal deployment, compared to similar but more proprietary solutions like Smooth Streaming by Microsoft, or HDS by Adobe.
With the big switch to http-based HLS streaming, it was necessary to segment both VOD and live streams in order to facilitate optimal quality streams - to all devices and over all network conditions. To address the challenges of streaming data in so many conditions, DASH is a protocol that operates under http, which helps facilitate more smooth HLS streams, particularly where there is an abundance of connections.
Most popular media servers and players support DASH if they support advanced HLS features. See the support for DASH in Evostream and JW Player. MMCart, the Joomla based pay-per-view, pay-per-minute, subscription component; support DASH because it supports JW Player and other media players.