A new MPEG video standard is being prepped for launch in 2013, which could see its arrival in commercial products very soon after.
The High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) system is a follow-up to the now commonplace H.264/AVC, which is used in just about every digital video product at the moment, from TVs to set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, games consoles, mobiles and tablets.
HEVC would enable the next generation of video hardware to handle content with about half as much bandwidth (if downloading) or 50 per cent less disk space if it’s being stored in memory.
It means that both standard and high definition video will benefit from downloading times that are effectively twice as fast. At last some of those movie streaming services that offer little or no HD content could upgrade their picture quality.
This is crucial to network operators, too, as video already accounts for the vast majority of data traffic and, "by 2015, it is predicted to account for 90 percent of all network traffic," according to Per Fröjdh, manager for Visual Technology at Ericsson Research.
The new MPEG standard "could be launched in commercial products as early as in 2013," added Fröjdh. Members of the Moving Picture Experts Group met towards the end of July and have now issued a draft international standard.
Processors with HEVC built in will work better than those that have to decode the system in the software, which is especially important when keeping power use down in battery-based mobile devices. Therefore the real boost will come with products launched later in 2013 and beyond.
“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,” said Fröjdh.
The new MPEG system has already been suggested as a suitable compression technology for Ultra HDTV. This TV standard, which has a 16-times the resolution of conventional HDTV, is being tested in Japan under NHK’s brand name Super Hi-Vision. Advances with compression such as HEVC have already led to Super Hi-Vision’s tentative launch date being brought forward by four years to 2016.
HEVC could be of similar help to broadcasters such as the BBC or Sky to push some kind of UHDTV service through in the UK in the next few years.