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MPEG announces HEVC codec, halves video bitrates

MPEG announces HEVC codec, halves video bitrates

The new HEVC codec from MPEG promises the same quality as H.264/AVC, but in just half the bitrate.

The Moving Picture Experts Group, which gives its name to the MPEG family of video and audio compression technologies, has announced a draft standard which promises to halve the bandwidth of video without harming the quality.

Dubbed the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard, the technology doubles the compression compared to the current state-of-the-art H.264/AVC standard, but without sacrificing any quality - and with video expected to account for 90 per cent of all network traffic by 2015, that's certainly nothing to be sniffed at.

'There's 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,' claimed Per Fröjdh, the manager for visual technology at Ericsson Research and the chair of the Swedish MPEG delegation.

The standard was hammered out during a meeting called by Fröjdh and encompassing nearly 450 people from 26 different countries, representing companies involved in the telecoms, computer, TV, and consumer electronics industries. With a draft standard for HEVC now complete, it's time for companies to begin development.

That, Fröjdh warns, could take a while for traditional markets. 'It will take time before it's launched for a TV service,' Fröjdh admitted, 'but adoption is much quicker in the mobile area, and we’ll probably see the first services for mobile use cases next year.'

Mobile is an area in which HEVC could truly shine: despite fourth-generation technologies promising impressive peak bandwidth, the actual sustained data throughput available on a typically congested mobile cell is far lower. Technologies such as small-cell - in which long-range mobile base stations are replaced by a far higher quantity of base stations each covering a far smaller area - can help alleviate this, but technologies for making the most out of the existing bandwidth will make an even greater difference.

For PC users, HEVC promises much in the way of improved quality: video streams could operate in high definition on a broadband connection half as fast as was previously required, while those on faster lines could enjoy ultra-definition formats without needing enterprise-grade connectivity.

Ericsson's visual technology team, led by Fröjdh, also claims to be working on developing a new compression format for 3D video in collaboration with MPEG, with a view to completing a standard by 2014. 'Future 3D technology will have more advanced displays, which will enable different views,' Fröjdh explains. '[i]The simpler versions of this technology will still just offer the two views we have today – left and right – without the need for glasses. But in the future, there will be many views next to each other, so you will simply move your head to the left or the right to give you a stereo impression of an object.'

14 Comments

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Bindibadgi 15th August 2012, 12:03 Quote
How long before the free xHEVC version? :D
theshadow2001 15th August 2012, 12:14 Quote
Just what the world needs, yet another video codec
Dave Lister 15th August 2012, 12:53 Quote
Oh great I'll need to take a year off work to re-encode all my video's !
WarrenJ 15th August 2012, 13:00 Quote
Looks like another good step towards SuperHD.
themassau 15th August 2012, 13:23 Quote
could this also imply a greater quality for the same band white like 50 or 60 fps instead of 24 or just double the resolution?
Salty Wagyu 15th August 2012, 13:57 Quote
Could this be a good thing for Freeview's limited transmission bandwidth if they used this new format?
[USRF]Obiwan 15th August 2012, 14:32 Quote
Wait what? They say it is half the bandwidth and it needs to be developed yet. That's ridicule!
damien c 15th August 2012, 15:47 Quote
Half the bit-rate for the same quality, hopefully that will mean smaller file sizes for uploads to youtube etc.
tonyd223 15th August 2012, 16:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by themassau
could this also imply a greater quality for the same band white like 50 or 60 fps instead of 24 or just double the resolution?

if it's recorded at 24 fps there's no increase in quality, and if it is recorded at a higher fps rate you get the whole Hobbit discussion going on...

Quality an interesting area, surely depends on the raw capture specs?
PlayLoud 15th August 2012, 17:39 Quote
It will probably be very processor intensive. Just like H.264 seemed very processor intensive when it was first released.
Star*Dagger 15th August 2012, 19:26 Quote
Make it easier for everyone to bit torrent Sasha Grey videos!
dyzophoria 15th August 2012, 23:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlayLoud
It will probably be very processor intensive. Just like H.264 seemed very processor intensive when it was first released.

I read somewhere that this is the case, it makes sense though, everything is getting faster, but communications links aren't developing in the same way.
edzieba 16th August 2012, 16:08 Quote
Half the bitrate with no quality loss? Colour me intensely sceptical until they show it in action. Even going from CBR MPEG2 to CRF Hi10p h.264 isn't going to net you half the filesize without any loss in quality.
play_boy_2000 16th August 2012, 18:27 Quote
If existing hardware acceleration (smartphones, media players, IPTV boxes etc) can actually be used for playback, then this my be the best thing since.... well h264.
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