Scaling Media Processing overview

This page gives an overview of how and why to scale media processing.


A Media Services account is associated with a Reserved Unit Type, which determines the speed with which your media processing tasks are processed. You can pick between the following reserved unit types: S1, S2, or S3. For example, the same encoding job runs faster when you use the S2 reserved unit type compare to the S1 type. For more information, see the Reserved Unit Types.

In addition to specifying the reserved unit type, you can specify to provision your account with reserved units. The number of provisioned reserved units determines the number of media tasks that can be processed concurrently in a given account. For example, if your account has five reserved units, then five media tasks will be running concurrently as long as there are tasks to be processed. The remaining tasks will wait in the queue and will get picked up for processing sequentially when a running task finishes. If an account does not have any reserved units provisioned, then tasks will be picked up sequentially. In this case, the wait time between one task finishing and the next one starting will depend on the availability of resources in the system.

Choosing between different reserved unit types

The following table helps you make a decision when choosing between different encoding speeds. It also provides a few benchmark cases on a video that you can download to perform your own tests:

RU type Scenario Example results for the 7 min 1080p video
S1 Single bitrate encoding.
Files at SD or below resolutions, not time sensitive, low cost.
Encoding to single bitrate SD resolution MP4 file using “H264 Single Bitrate SD 16x9” takes around 7 minutes.
S2 Single bitrate and multiple bitrate encoding.
Normal usage for both SD and HD encoding.
Encoding with "H264 Single Bitrate 720p" preset takes around 6 minutes.

Encoding with "H264 Multiple Bitrate 720p" preset takes around 12 minutes.
S3 Single bitrate and multiple bitrate encoding.
Full HD and 4K resolution videos. Time sensitive, faster turnaround encoding.
Encoding with "H264 Single Bitrate 1080p" preset takes approximately 3 minutes.

Encoding with "H264 Multiple Bitrate 1080p" preset takes approximately 8 minutes.



Review considerations described in this section.

  • For the Audio Analysis and Video Analysis jobs that are triggered by Media Services v3 or Video Indexer, S3 unit type is highly recommended.
  • If using the shared pool, that is, without any reserved units, then your encode tasks have the same performance as with S1 RUs. However, there is no upper bound to the time your Tasks can spend in queued state, and at any given time, at most only one Task will be running.


You are charged based on number of minutes the Media Reserved Units are provisioned in your account. This occurs independent of whether there are any Jobs running in your account. For a detailed explanation, see the FAQ section of the Media Services pricing page.

Quotas and limitations

For information about quotas and limitations and how to open a support ticket, see Quotas and limitations.

Next step

Achieve the scaling media processing task with one of these technologies:


To get the latest version of Java SDK and get started developing with Java, see Get started with the Java client SDK for Media Services.
To download the latest PHP SDK for Media Services, look for version 0.5.7 of the Microsoft/WindowAzure package in the Packagist repository.

Media Services learning paths

Media Services v3 (latest)

Check out the latest version of Azure Media Services!

Media Services v2 (legacy)

Provide feedback

Use the User Voice forum to provide feedback and make suggestions on how to improve Azure Media Services. You also can go directly to one of the following categories: