MPEG: H.265 expected to double the efficiency of H.264

Industry experts say MPEG H.265, also called High Efficiency Video Coding, will squeeze video sizes to half the sizes of H.264, doubling the efficiency of the current de facto standard algorithm.

The greater level of compression could lead either to a much smaller video footprint for bandwidth-challenged mobile users or could increase the image quality with current amounts of bandwidth.

The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) met to issue a draft international standard of the new compression format in Stockholm from July 16-20. A total of 450 people from 26 countries representing the telecoms, computer, TV and consumer electronics industries gathered to approve and issue a draft standard for the new format.

“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,” said Per Fröjdh, manager for Visual Technology at Ericsson Research, Group Function Technology, who organized the event as chairman of the Swedish MPEG delegation.

The availability of a new compression format to reduce bandwidth, particularly in mobile networks where spectrum is expensive, opens the door for more video on wireless systems.

“Video accounts for the vast majority of all data sent over networks, and that proportion is increasing. By 2015, it is predicted to account for 90 percent of all network traffic,” said Fröjdh.

The MPEG committee meets four times each year to discuss, propose and issue international standards for compression, decompression, processing and coded representation of moving pictures and audio.

“MPEG has a big impact on the industry and on consumer electronics. On the video side, almost all digital terrestrial, satellite and cable TV services rely on video codecs standardized by MPEG,” Fröjdh said. “When you buy a DVD or Blu-ray Disc, the compression format also uses MPEG standards.”

The HEVC format discussed by MPEG in Stockholm, Fröjdh said, could be launched commercially as early as 2013. “It will take time before it’s launched for a TV service, but adoption is much quicker in the mobile area, and we’ll probably see the first services for mobile use cases next year,” he said.