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Want to know data transfer rates for streaming video, such as from an external hard drive, or from an NAS or a home network. All I'm asking about is the data transfer speeds for clean video streaming.

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That depends entirely on the codecs and their settings. For example the standard values for Blu-ray Discs are:

MPEG-4 AVC Video at 18000 kbps for 1080p
MPEG-4 AVC Video at  8000 kbps for  720p
DTS-HD Master Audio

The bit rate of the audio codec is variable, but should stay under 4 Mbps. That's a total of 22 Mbps for 1080p and 12 Mbps for 720p. Lossy compression may result in much lower bit rates.

In comparison, some transfer speeds1:

  • USB 1.1 (full bandwidth): 12 Mbps
  • USB 2.0: 480 Mbps
  • PATA: up to 1064 Mbps
  • SATA I: 1500 Mbps
  • Ethernet2: 10 Mbps
  • Fast Ethernet2: 100 Mbps
  • Gigabit Ethernet2: 1000 Mbps

Even USB 1.1 could be fast enough for 720p. USB 2.0 and every modern hard drive should be fast enough for 1080p.

With Ethernet, it depends entirely on the speed of the involved components and other network activity. If all components support Fast Ethernet, the transfer speeds should be fast enough for 1080p.


1 For effective transfer speeds, protocol overhead has to be taken into account.

2This is not a standard. In practice, an Ethernet connection labelled as, e.g., Fast Ethernet could have a a different transfer speed.

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"Other codecs are generally more efficient." – MPEG-4 AVC is the most efficient codec today. –  slhck Feb 14 '13 at 10:53
    
I was thinking about H.264, but I just found out that MPEG-4 AVC is H.264, so silly me. –  Dennis Feb 14 '13 at 11:12
    
Something else that needs to be taken into account is the transfer rate of your storage media. Mechanical hard drives will struggle to much beyond 800 Mbps. SSDs will be faster but not by much. Of course both of these are way above the video's bitrates so it's probably a moot point. –  NullUser May 28 '13 at 22:51
    
just a note, 800mbps will transfer 1GB of data in 10 seconds. –  techaddict Feb 5 at 0:33

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