Making TV shows in 8K is about to get a lot easier

Japan's NTT makes it cheaper and easier to broadcast 8K video by splitting images into pieces.

Jeff Bottari/AP

If you want to broadcast a TV show in 8K resolution, then you're going to need a whole room full of computers to encode the image. After all, a regular machine would struggle to process the 60, 35-megapixel images that need to be crunched every second. That's one of the many reasons that 8K video is currently limited to tech demos and the odd, one-off special event where the cost is justified. Japan's NTT, however, is claiming to have squeezed that room full of tech into a single box that's roughly the size of your average server module. Right now, the announcement is just that -- an announcement -- but this could mean we start seeing 8K broadcasts popping up well ahead of schedule.

Our Japanese is pretty rusty, but it appears as if NTT's researchers have taken a smart shortcut to get the system that small. Rather than building a box that can process the image in one go, each frame is divided into four and then processed in parallel by existing, 4K-ready, hardware. By dividing one dense, data-heavy image into quarters, the power required is significantly smaller, uses cheaper tech and occupies far less space. It also appears that there's some motion-smoothing secret sauce that can make sure everything's looking fine when the images are put back together at the other end.

NTT is going to show off its latest box at a research and development forum in Japan at the end of this week. The company has added that it'll soon begin work to "commercialize" the box in the hope of hawking it to broadcasters. If that happens, then we might have to start rolling our eyes and sighing whenever someone talks about how amazing 4K looks.