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Earlier this summer, MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group) made an announcement that they would begin the process of creating a new video compression format that was twice as efficient as current standards. The High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), unofficially dubbed H.265, will work to reduce bandwidth consumption, particularly in mobile networks where spectrum is expensive. This would allow service providers to offer more video services without expanding their bandwidth.
“There is a lot of industry interest in this because it means you can halve the bit rate and still achieve the same visual quality, or double the number of television channels with the same bandwidth, which will have an enormous impact on the industry,” says Per Fröjdh, Manager for Visual Technology at Ericsson Research.
Up until now the most commonly used formats for the recording, compression, and distribution of high definition video has been H.264 also known as Advanced Video Coding (AVC). When H.264 was initially created back in 2003 the goal was to halve or less the bit rate of its predecessors MPEG-2, H.263, and MPEG-4 Part 2 without compromising the video quality. The need for High Efficiency Video Coding has been growing exponentially over the years so it was only a matter of time before this initiative was revisited. “Video accounts for the vast majority of all data sent over networks, and that proportion is increasing: by 2015, it is predicted to account for 90 percent of all network traffic,” Fröjdh says.
The cost of this compression format for developers is going to involve some computational complexity. Basically, it is going to take more time to compress your videos. You are going to want a computer with a faster chip if you want to see your compression times go unchanged. On the plus side, the most promising benefit I can see is the support given to 4k resolution. I think the thought of watching an IMAX movie in the comfort of your own home will resonate with both consumers and manufactures.
On August 22, 2012 Ericsson announced the world’s first HEVC encoder, the Ericsson SVP 5500. This real-time encoder is designed specifically for delivery to mobile devices and is due to showcase at this year’s International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) September 6-11 in Amsterdam, Holland.
With an ambitious goal of championing the mobile video market, MPEG’s HEVC will compete with a royalty-free alternative called VP8 that Google provides. The current H.264 standard is a slightly higher quality than VP8, so when and if HEVC is adopted (like AVC was adopted by Apple) I expect VP8 will become obsolete.
Anticipate hearing much more about this project in the upcoming months. I plan to stay on top of this as more information unfolds, if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page.