Europe races to implement next generation HEVC video encoding

Europe races to implement next generation HEVC video encoding

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

Both Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institute HHI in Berlin and Ericsson in the UK and Sweden are developing encoders for the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) data transmission standard, showing early versions next week.
HEVC requires half the bandwidth of the previous H.264/AVC standard for high quality video transmission and will be needed for the next generation of HD TV, with 4K displays, also called 2160p format, being shown next week as well. the Fraunhofer development is scheduled for completion in January 2013 and the HEVC standard for 3D movies should follow in one to two years.
"Parts of H.264 were subsumed and optimized," said Dr Thomas Schierl, group manager of multimedia communications at HHI. "One example is the block size: whereas H.264 subdivides the transmission image into blocks of 16 by 16 pixels, HEVC instead carves the image into blocks of varying sizes with up to 64 by 64 pixels. These larger blocks can be encoded considerably more efficiently."
Because the blocks in HEVC are substantially larger than in H.264, correspondingly less movement data are needed. Compared to H.264, since the computational effort for the higher coding efficiency increases sharply to encode or decode the images, HEVC in the standard design allows computer units to work parallel with each other. Either the image is separated out into several parts, known as tiles, whereupon each processor works on one of them, or in the wave front method, where the processors each handle one block of lines in the image. These methods allow encoder manufacturers to get implementations and products to market rapidly.
The new standard will deliver benefits to video telephony as well. It too, was hitherto largely based on H.264. With the H.265 version of HEVC, the image quality can be increased substantially at the same data rate. Likewise, the transmission can be adapted for web video-streaming. MPEG-DASH, a transport format for multimedia streaming, currently enables viewers to watch judder-free videos via the Internet. Today it allows the transport of H.264-encoded contents as well as other standards. The researchers are planning to extend DASH by April 2013 so that it can also transmit HEVC-encoded videos.
Ericsson is also showing an HEVC coder with a focus on smaller screens for mobile devices.
Ericsson ConsumerLab research shows that as much as half of the TV/video consumption on smartphones is today done out of the home, while a July 2012 report from Juniper Research suggests that the number of streamed mobile TV users on smartphones will increase to 240 million by 2014.
“We are seeing a dramatic change in consumer habits towards TV – they still want to watch at home on their HD screen, but they increasingly expect to consume content on other all devices, whether in the home via Wi-Fi or out the house using mobile 3G and 4G networks,” said Ove Anebygd, Vice President and Head of TV at Ericsson. “Consumers are looking to find simple, enjoyable and seamless ways to consume any content, any way and anywhere. That is why we’ve responded by pioneering another first in adopting and implementing HEVC specifically for mobile use.”
So Ericsson (which took over Tandberg TV in 2009) has launched a system capable of real-time encoding at resolutions up to HD. The SVP 5500 HEVC encoder greatly reduces bandwidth requirements and allows network operators to deliver consistent, high quality TV.
“As operators strive to keep pace with the multi-screen consumer demand, they are facing increased strain on their networks. There is an immediate need for new video compression solutions that enable high quality pictures over mobile networks, while keeping bandwidth and storage costs as low as possible,” said Dr Giles Wilson, Head of the TV Compression Business at Ericsson. “We understand the dynamics of consumer and operator needs, and the launch of the Ericsson SVP 5500 encoder demonstrates our ability to make first to market moves that allow next-generation TV experiences to become mass market reality.”

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