The new High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) draft describes a technology that achieves about twice the compression levels of the current H.264/AVC standard.
“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 Ericsson's Per Fröjdh, chairman of the Swedish MPEG delegation. According to the manager, HEVC could be launched 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. Fröjdh stated that his group is also working on a naked-eye 3D video compression format for introduction in 2014.
An introduction of a new video compression format is always problematic and superior technology not always translates in market adoption. For example, there have been several attempts to replace the JPEG image format with formats such as JPEG2000 back in the 2000 time frame and, more recently, there has been an effort from Microsoft to make HD Photo (Windows Media Photo) available as a JPEG replacement that can reach quality levels of uncompressed TIFF images.
In the video arena, H.264 has been discussed because of its patent base that could expose adoption of the format to licensing fees, which prompted, for example, Google to pitch its own VP8-based WebM format. And, of course, there is still OGG/OGV, which is also looking to gain some traction. Despite Google's huge effort to drive WebM into the market, H.264 remains the preferred video format today and it showcases just how tough it is to replace what has been established as a standard in the market.