Market Insight

HEVC Compression Standard Approval Comes Just in Time for UltraHD & Mobile HD

February 15, 2013  | Subscribers Only

Randy Lawson Randy Lawson Subject Matter Expert

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With the news of the recent ratification of a new ITU video compression standard, known as HEVC, (High Efficiency Video Coding), consumer dreams of an “Ultra” High Definition electronics enabled world just got one step closer to reality.  HEVC, or to be specific, the ITU-T H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding standard, was approved on Jan 26th 2013.  HEVC represents the successor codec standard to the very popular H.264/MPEG4 (AVC) standard in wide use in current video streaming applications, and is the culmination of nearly a decade of work from the ISO/IEC MPEG group.   HEVC is expected to propel MPEG video compression standards into a third decade of dominance in codec standard adoption, following MPEG2 systems growth from the early 1990’s, MPEG4 from the early 2000’s, and now HEVC from 2013 onward.

Initial expectations for HEVC use in the market place seem to be centered around the hot topic of “4K” resolution TV sets and “UltraHD” video content.  During both CES 2012 and 2013, such super high resolution TV sets and panels made an increasingly large presence at the show from a growing list of panel manufacturers and Consumer Electronics OEMs.    While average screen sizes for TV sets continues to increase, making a stronger value proposition for UltraHD content, the near term price premium that UltraHD television sets will demand is expected to minimize market displacement of  existing HD and FullHD (1920x1080) resolution LCD TV sets and panels.  regardless of more efficient methods for distribution of UltraHD content. 

However, while HEVC certainly will help enable the market for higher-than-1080p content and displays, HEVC should not be considered primarily as an UltraHD content enabling technology.   The new HEVC codec is just as important from the viewpoint of yet another technology advancement  for content distributors and broadcasters to use to increase efficiencies in existing distribution systems, thus expanding the use and dispersion of existing HD quality content even further into the increasingly important mobile market.    

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