Future of Video transmission H.265(HVEC) approved

H.265 With the explosion of Big screen or at least lengthy screen, consumers has started to give importance to video in their smartphones. Me, do have very less time (busy bee :-p) to see good movies which are recommended by my friends. I used to see it on my smartphone while on travel/waiting to meet someone etc. But the problem with this is videos occupy a lot of space. A movie can occupy significant space in your mobile device. Especially if its a Full-HD(1080p) movie your mobile device’s 4GB is occupied.

Ah, yes. Storages are becoming cheaper now a days. But this phenomenon is a continuous process. Media industry started to think in some other way. Since storage is coming at less cost, programmers has started to work for next HD standard. Ultra HD. With the advent of Ultra HD 4K displays, videos are going to occupy more storage. I am talking in longer perspective here. You may argue that its not going to happen soon. Besides there are arguments that 4K displays are stupid.

Okay. Ultra HD is coming, need more storage in phones. Ultra HD handles strenuous 3840×2160 resolution. Cisco’s Networking index says almost 51% of data passes through network is Video and predicted 56% by year 2016. So we need a better codec than H.264 informally known as MPEG-4, which we (industry) use in most of our technologies, Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize in Business video solution and Apple, Nokia, Samsung in Consumer electronics.

H.265 approved

On Friday Jan 25 2013, ITU has approved H.265, which is a successor to H.264 and often called as HVEC (High Efficiency Video Coding). The first standard was given at last year July and waited for ratification. It is the latest video compression was in development and approval stages for last couple of years. It was developed by JCT-VC (Joint Collaborative Team – Video Coding) a collaborative project between the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and the ISO/IECE Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). As in H.264 codec, its also approved as open standard can be used in any vendor, any hardware.  H.265 can handle 7680×4320 resolution, so it can easily handle Ultra HD’s resolution requirement.

Advantages & Trade-offs

H.265 is can provide a lot of advantages: It can provide same or better quality of H.264 with half the bit rate. So the bandwidth it consumes to transfer over internet will be less. But the computing power it requires to do those coding and decoding will be more. In enterprises, for video conferencing requirements, hardware has to be upgraded, which is no big deal with the cost of AV codec processors coming down. In consumer sector already, the prices of mobile phones coming down it may not be a problem. Note that there are possibilities of developing software codec, but may cause battery drain issues, which will not be a suitable solution for mobile device. Hardware refresh is the best option.

Do the industry ready for it?

Before approval ITU group who approved this standard has seen PoCs and implementations from various vendors such as Ericsson, Broadcom and Mitsubishi. Ericsson has already started its work in Commercial segment with SVP5500, the world’s first HEVC encoder for live TV delivery to mobile devices and was announced in IBC2012.

Cisco also demonstrated its HVEC implementation in Collaboration summit.

Cisco’s Demo of HVEC in Collaboration summit

It took at least two years to see h.264 in regular video implementations after H.264 ratified. But that was 10 years ago. With the burst of video industry we can now see H.265 implementations on all new quad core hardware quickly.

ITU announcement: http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2013/01.aspx#.UQaaB-ib2Si

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