New Low-Bandwidth Video Coding Standard

Video Compression

Tardis TechnologyWith the increase in HD video resolution, the bandwidth required to deliver these better quality images increases as well. Think of it as trying to shove a watermelon down a garden hose. Short of having TARDIS technology where the inside of the pipe is bigger than the outside, there is only so much room to push that watermelon through. And with 4K video now making its way to mainstream that watermelon is even bigger.

Compression techniques are used to deliver the same quality and use a smaller pipe to get that information to you more quickly. So find some efficient way to make that watermelon small enough to fit down that garden hose, but give it back to you in its full beauty is a real challenge.

Most all compression is “lossy” and must sacrifice something to send all that additional information. That’s why many of your cable, satellite broadcast, Internet, etc. videos may not look as clean as the original source – they compress all the flavor out of that watermelon. The video and audio has been compressed a lotso it’ll fix down the pipe available. And with most broadband providers putting caps on how much you can receive in any given day, that pipe is getting smaller, too.

Fortunately the guys and gals at the International Television Union (ITU – the standards creators) look at all this stuff and come up with a new High Efficiency Video Coding standard (HEVC) which is designed to deliver high-quality, low-bandwidth video. It’s this new HEVC/H.265 standard that is touted as needing ½ as much bandwidth as the current H.264 standard.

That’s the good news. However, it will take a several years to get this new standard into all the places that create the content you view. The cable company, for example, is still trying to get out of the even older standard MPEG-2 (lots more compression and “lossy”) equipment.

Expect the Internet to more quickly adopt this new standard since more-and-more content delivery is moving to the web. Especially if you consider that NetFlix, which showed off 4K delivery at CES, will need to get that 4K image into your home will require some new and improved compression like mentioned above.