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HEVC

HEVC

The new HEVC format is seen as the future of video encoding. It is a master piece in the use of Ultra-High definition and 4K contents. Its performance with encoding makes it a great standard for those new definitions.
Today: H.264

Today standard is the H.264, also well known for its general purpose codec, x264. Those are well known as successor of MPEG-2, used during the DVD era. It Is an enhancement, applying multiple techniques to produce smaller outputs. It is one of the most used formats used today, including Blu-Ray discs and numerical television.
Tomorrow: H.265

H.265 is the next step, further enhancement of the H.264 standard. It will provide additional tweaking to the existing H.264 standard: it will push analysis further and adapt block sizes from 16×16 to 64×64 which is more adapted to the UHD and 4K definitions.


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Performance

The whole point of H.265 is its ability to create smaller files for the same quality. It has been reported that, depending on content, files encoded with this new standard are around 30% smaller for SD files, and that it could reach 50% with UHD definitions. Smaller output files means less storage and reduced bandwidth for broadcast.

Resolution x264 x265 Relative size
3840×2160 673 Mio 463 Mio 68,80%
1920×1080 355 Mio 193 Mio 54,37%
1280×720 167 Mio 126 Mio 75,45%

It’s already here
We won’t wait anymore for H.265 use: it is already used. Modern hardware like recent smart TVs already include what is needed to decode the new standard. Decoding and encoding software already exist, and hardware capable of recording directly in H.265 is already out. We’re getting close to widespread adoption, which is planned for 2017.
Unfortunately, older hardware is another story, and may require new hardware to be bought, as video devices like home players need hardware decoding which just begins to exist. So, if you want to have the power of this new coded, chances are that you would have to seek new hardware.
Another problem exists: As the new codec needs more analysis, encoding times will be longer.

Patent issues

The last issue with HEVC is the patent issues. H.264 had an easy licensing, and a good codec to use, provided by the VLC software. H.265 is another story: there are different patent holders with different rules. Fortunately, those patent holders are now grouped under the HEVC Advance group, which would make use of HEVC easier. But what still frightens future users is that H.265 will be more expensive than his little brother H.264.

The future

H.265 has a bright future. Its uses are just beginning to appear and its performance are amazing. 4K is justifying its usage, and very-high resolution content is becoming more and more widespread. Explosion of streaming services like Netflix, broadcasting high-definition content, pose the problem of network congestion, which HEVC solves. HEVC really has a bright future.

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