Allegro unveils first HEVC H.265 compression equipment

At IBC, Allegro DVT showed what it called the first HEVC H.265 encoder and transcoder for broadcasters. The AL1200 HD-SDI encoder and AL2200 IP Transcoder target high-end operators and broadcasters willing to adopt the next-generation compression protocol early.

HEVC is a successor to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding) and is currently under joint development by the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG). HEVC is said to improve video quality, double the data compression ratio compared to H.264, and can support resolutions up to 7680 x 4320. While the final standard is to be expected in early 2013, Allegro DVT said its HEVC encoders would evolve (via software upgrades) as new drafts of the standard are submitted.

Until 2014, Allegro said, HEVC will be most interesting for applications where software decoding may apply, such as multiscreen delivery. The company said the finalized HEVC standard will bring bitrate savings somewhat between 30 and 50 percent compared to equivalent H.264 encodings.

As to the question of whether it makes sense for operators to start investing in the HEVC standard, Allegro said eventually, HEVC will be to H.264 what H.264 was to MPEG-2.

HEVC, it said, allows “premium video delivery at resolutions and places that operators and broadcasters were only dreaming of before. Most of the delivery pipeline will remain untouched, since HEVC will make use of agnostic delivery protocols such as MPEG-2 Transport Stream and MPEG-DASH.”

At its IBC booth, Allegro showed an end-to-end HEVC delivery system, based on an Allegro DVT HEVC encoder being fed a live IP video source. The encoded result was delivered to a custom version of the reference decoder that was adapted to support playout of live content, since the standard is not yet complete.