H.265 Video Format Approved, Ensures High-Quality Video At Half Bit-Rate
Back in August we reported that MPEG had released a new draft for a video codec, H.265, also informally known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) – now, the video format has been approved by the ITU. This approval could eventually see Ultra HD 4K video to future networks, as well as making streaming HD video on low bandwidth mobile networks.
The new video format is the successor to the H.264 codec, which nearly every video publisher has standardized after the release of the iPad and several other connected devices. It seems crazy now, but once upon a time, Apple’s adoption of H.264 and insistence on HTML5-based video players was controversial — especially since most video before the iPad was encoded in VP6 to play through Adobe’s proprietary Flash player.
The hope is that, through improved compression techniques, H.265 will enable publishers to stream 1080p video with about half as many bits as required today. That should make true streaming HD video available not just in broadband households, but on mobile and tablet devices, using networks that are a lot more bandwidth-constrained. Doing so could make online video more widely available in markets with poor connectivity or mostly mobile connections.
In places where there is decent broadband connectivity, H.265 could enable even higher-quality video. With 4K TVs finally becoming available, there’s an opportunity for even greater video resolution. The only problem is that networks aren’t built to support the load that streaming that video would require. With H.265, 4K streaming could be possible with as little as 20-30 Mbps of bandwidth. Still a lot by today’s standards, but not completely unheard of.
We should see software encoders by the end of the year, but hardware? Not in the short-term. Broadcom announced at CES that they had their new BCM7445 chip which was one of the first to support H.265. Devices with this chip won’t be seen until 2014 at least, as high-volume shipments aren’t expected to ramp up until then.