We have been hearing a lot about MPEG 4, Part 10, also known as H.264, advanced video coding. It promises more efficient coding, resulting in HD images occupying less transmission or storage bandwidth than MPEG 2-encoded images of equivalent quality.
At the recent CES in Las Vegas, Tandberg Television and Broadcom demonstrated end-to-end H.264 coding/decoding for the first time, with Tandberg Television supplying the encoding end and Broadcom supplying the decoding end.
H.264 promises equivalent quality at half the bit rate required for MPEG 2 HD streams. Cable and satellite program distributors are enthusiastic about the possibilities, and some of them have already incorporated H.264 decoding capability into their set-top boxes. Currently, it cannot be used in digital terrestrial broadcast in the United States, which must use MPEG 2 coding by FCC regulation. Presumably, at some point in the future, it might be possible to incorporate both MPEG 2 and H.264 decoding capabilities into terrestrial DTV receivers, and thereby facilitate eventual use of advanced coding in terrestrial broadcast.
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