How To Set Session Limits

What is the session limit for?

By default an orchestrator can handle a maximum of 10 incoming livestreams at a time. Whenever the number of concurrent transcoding sessions goes above this, the orchestrator returns an OrchestratorCapped error to the broadcaster.

Of course, the transcoding capacity and the bandwidth varies for everyone - so you can set the -maxSessions CLI parameter with a value that reflects available resources to maximize work received from broadcasters.

For example if you have enough transcoding capacity and bandwidth to handle 30 streams, you can set the max sessions using the following command (other flags omitted):

$ livepeer -orchestrator -transcoder -maxSessions 30

How to calculate my session limit?

Calculate the session limit based on (1) transcoding hardware and (2) bandwidth as explained below, and take the minimum of the two. Finally, pass it through the -maxSessions parameter to your node as explained above.

The bandwidth and computational power needed to transcode a video stream varies with the source video and requested outputs’ configuration. Thus any session limit estimate only serves as a ballpark, and you may want to tweak it after some real use on the network.

The steps below assume that the incoming streams are configured with the most-commonly found Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) ladder on the network. You may calculate it similarly for a different ABR ladder.

1. Transcoding Hardware Capacity

The livepeer_bench tool can help you get a rough idea of the number of concurrent transcoding sessions your hardware can handle. Refer to the Benchmarking Guide on how to setup the tool and to learn more about the CLI parameters.

Once you’ve got the tool setup - you can benchmark with the most common transcoding ABR ladder (transcodingOptions.json).

For example to test for a range of concurrent sessions on a single Nvidia GPU with device id ‘0’ you can use the following bash script:


for i in {1..20}
    ./livepeer_bench -in bbb/source.m3u8 \
    -transcodingOptions transcodingOptions.json \
    -nvidia 0 \
    -concurrentSessions $i |& grep "Took" >> bench.log

To test on a CPU omit the -nvidia 0 flag and change the loop’s maximum from 20 to something lower like 5.

You will see the final output in a file called bench.log as following

Took <X> seconds to transcode 30 segments of total duration 60s (1 concurrent sessions)
Took <X> seconds to transcode 30 segments of total duration 60s (2 concurrent sessions)
Took <X> seconds to transcode 30 segments of total duration 60s (20 concurrent sessions)

The goal here is to have the transcode time X remain within real-time, leaving about ~20% buffer room for network transit. Thus X <= 60s/1.20 = 50 seconds.

If your transcode time was quite fast even for the limit of 20 sessions in the above script, feel free to increase it to something higher. If you have multiple GPUs you can multiply whatever limit you calculate with a single GPU above, or pass all your devices in like -nvidia 0,1,2.

2. Bandwidth Capacity

The most common transcoding ABR ladder found on the network is (assuming source is 1080p30fps) -

Resolution & Fps Bitrate
1080p30fps 6000kbps
720p<source>fps 3000kbps
480p<source>fps 1600kbps
360p<source>fps 800kbps
240p<source>fps 250kbps

For a single stream you require 6000 kbps for fetching source rendition and 5600 kbps for sending the transcoded renditions. Thus you will roughly need -

Download Bandwidth = 6 Mbps Per Stream

Upload Bandwidth = 5.6 Mbps Per Stream

To get an idea of the number of streams you can handle, divide the above from your network provider’s limits. For example a typical broadband connection with upstream/downstream of 100 Mbps can serve ~16 streams reliably. You can probably stretch it by ~20% more as not all streams’ segments would be processed at the same time. You may want to refer to some suggestions in Bandwidth Requirements around testing your available upload/download bandwidth.