Encoding specialist Harmonic is expecting the new video compression standard High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) to have become an international standard by mid-2012, with commercial implementations beginning to use it in 2014.
Thierry Fautier, senior director of convergence solutions at Harmonic, said the target was for HEVC to be 50% more efficient than its predecessor, H.264/AVC. “Today, it’s running at around 30-35%,” he suggested. “I think a 50% gain will be achievable by mid-2012.”
As with its predecessors, the new compression system will on its introduction produce the most significant bit-rate savings with high-resolution video formats. “With SD, you won’t be able to squeeze it that much,” said Fautier. “But on HD [or Super HD] there will be a significant improvement. The more bits you throw at the new algorithm, the better it works.”
However, HEVC requires a five-fold increase in processing power over H.264/AVC, and Fautier stressed that the new technology was “not for tomorrow – it’s a long shot.”
Fautier also revealed that there was an ongoing debate within Harmonic about the use of software- rather than hardware-based encoding. While it was clear that for very specific types of scene, hardware encoding performed better, “for 80% of cases, we are finding that software is doing a good job.”
Fautier listed the advantages of a software-based approach as including the fact that it handled high processing requirements more cheaply, was more flexible (encoders could be upgraded more easily and cheaply), and had a reduced time to market.