Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Fraunhofer’s new H.266 codec promises to halve the cost of 4K video streaming

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The Fraunhofer Institute Heinrich Hertz, the electrical and computer engineering division of the prestigious German research organization, announced on Tuesday VVC, a new video codec standard that promises to bring about 50% efficiency gains in video compression in streaming.

The full name of the codec is H.266 / Versatile video coding, because Fraunhofer says it is designed to succeed the standard formats H.264 / Advanced Video Coding (AVC) and H.265 / High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). which together account for around 90% of the world’s digital video transmission and compression on the market today. While HEVC was first released in 2013, the codec proved controversial due to aggressive patent litigation between its various stakeholders. This is why AVC, the predecessor of HEVC, remains the most dominant standard, despite its first release in 2003.

But Fraunhofer says VVC could be a route for the industry, since almost all of the big hardware and software companies are currently tied to a messy patent royalty system that dictates the amount that different stakeholders owe. pay to use different compression and transmission standards for devices, websites. and applications. With VVC, Fraunhofer says that you can get something much better than AVC and HEVC without any licensing issues.

“By reducing the need for data, H.266 / VVC makes video transmission in mobile networks (where data capacity is limited) more efficient. For example, the previous H.265 / HEVC standard requires 10 gigabytes of data to transmit 90-minute UHD video, “reads the Fraunhofer press release. “With this new technology, only 5 gigabytes of data are needed to achieve the same quality. Because H.266 / VVC was developed with ultra-high resolution video content in mind, the new standard is particularly beneficial when broadcasting 4K or 8K videos on a flat screen TV. In addition, H.266 / VVC is ideal for all types of moving images: from high-resolution 360 ° video panoramas to sharing screen content. “

Fraunhofer’s parent organization – the Fraunhofer Society, which includes many smaller institutes like Fraunhofer HHI and others – is best known in the world of digital media standards as the creator of MP3. He also contributed greatly to the creation of J.264 and H.265. The certainty of the research organization therefore has a rich and successful history of work in data compression. But Fraunhofer does not mention in its press release the existence of AV1, an open-source and royalty-free competitor to the HEVC standard created by the Open Media Alliance, which includes the five big American tech giants after the signature of Apple in early 2018. AV1 and its predecessor, VP9, ​​are an integral part of streaming 4K content from platforms like YouTube, so it is likely that these standards will continue to compete in the coming years. .

It’s unclear to what extent AV1, AVC, HEVC and VVC will all coexist in the future, but Fraunhofer says the Media Coding Industry Forum – the industry consortium it belongs to alongside Apple, Sony and others – is working currently on the chip. designs to support VVC at the hardware level. “This fall Fraunhofer HHI will release the first software (for both the encoder and the decoder) to support H.266 / VVC,” said Thomas Schierl, head of the Video Coding and Analytics department at Fraunhofer HHI, in a statement.

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