MPEG H.265 standard aims to double compression efficiency

The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) has met to issue a draft international standard of a new video-compression format that is twice as efficient as current standards.

The meeting, held in Stockholm July 16-20, gathered almost 450 people from 26 countries representing the telecoms, computer, TV and consumer electronics industries to approve and issue a draft standard for High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). This format will enable compression levels roughly twice as high as the current H.264/AVC standard.

A comparison carried out between H.264, and a version 4 of the H.265 draft carried out in November 2011 concluded that H.265 was around 44% more efficient for video calling style applications, and 39% more efficient for broadcast scenarios.

H.265 will support a maximum resolution of 7,680×4,320@120.0 Hz, compared to 4,096×2,304@56.3 Hz for H.264.

“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,” says Per Fröjdh, Manager for Visual Technology at Ericsson Research, Group Function Technology, who organized the event as Chairman of the Swedish MPEG delegation.

The availability of a new compression format to reduce bandwidth, particularly in mobile networks where spectrum is expensive, paves the way for service providers to launch more video services with the currently available spectrum.

“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.

InAVate asked Professor Iain Richardson, founder of Vcodex, which consults on video compression technologies to comment on the implications for professional video users of H.265:

"To get the best performance out of H.265 will require significantly more processing power than is needed for H.264. This means you can expect H.265 encoding and decoding to require higher-performance CPUs (for software encoding and playback) and/or dedicated hardware support," he said.

"If H.265/HEVC takes off and starts to become widely used, end users and service providers will have to cope with yet another video format, in addition to H.264 and the numerous other formats that are currently in play. It's unlikely that everything will move over to H.265 immediately, so I would expect to see significant inter-operability challenges in the short to medium term."