The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) has issued a draft international standard for a new video format, dubbed the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), that promises to offer the same subjective visual quality at only half of the bitrate of H.264.
HEVC, also known as H.265 in some quarters, has been in the works since 2004, but the draft was formally approved just last month, at a meeting of the committee in Stockholm.
H.265/HEVC works by increasing the computational complexity of encoding and decoding by a factor of up to 3 times, using even more complicated algorithms than H.264, to achieve as much as a 50% reduction in required bandwidth.
This will greatly benefit the spread of mobile video services, of which currently bandwidth limitations remain a major problem. The compromise though is that devices will have to become more powerful, and hence more power hungry, in order to play H.265/HEVC videos.
In addition to mobile applications, H.265/HEVC will support up to 8K or 4320p (7680×4320) resolution, just in time for an industry push towards 4K HDTV in the coming years. The decrease in bandwidth requirements per stream could also allow more streams to be transmitted within the same frequency.
"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, the chair of the Swedish MPEG delegation, and manager for visual technology at Ericsson Research.
Fröjdh believes that products using HEVC could be launched as soon as next year in the mobile arena.