Europe races to implement next generation HEVC video encoding

August 24, 2012 // By Nick Flaherty
The race to implement the the next geneation of video encoding is speeding up with European researchers at the forefront of the developments.

Both Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institute HHI in Berlin and Ericsson in the UK and Sweden are developing encoders for the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) data transmission standard, showing early versions next week.
HEVC requires half the bandwidth of the previous H.264/AVC standard for high quality video transmission and will be needed for the next generation of HD TV, with 4K displays, also called 2160p format, being shown next week as well. the Fraunhofer development is scheduled for completion in January 2013 and the HEVC standard for 3D movies should follow in one to two years.
"Parts of H.264 were subsumed and optimized," said Dr Thomas Schierl, group manager of multimedia communications at HHI. "One example is the block size: whereas H.264 subdivides the transmission image into blocks of 16 by 16 pixels, HEVC instead carves the image into blocks of varying sizes with up to 64 by 64 pixels. These larger blocks can be encoded considerably more efficiently."
Because the blocks in HEVC are substantially larger than in H.264, correspondingly less movement data are needed. Compared to H.264, since the computational effort for the higher coding efficiency increases sharply to encode or decode the images, HEVC in the standard design allows computer units to work parallel with each other. Either the image is separated out into several parts, known as tiles, whereupon each processor works on one of them, or in the wave front method, where the processors each handle one block of lines in the image. These methods allow encoder manufacturers to get implementations and products to market rapidly.
The new standard will deliver benefits to video telephony as well. It too, was hitherto largely based on H.264. With the H.265 version of HEVC, the image quality can be increased substantially at the same data rate. Likewise, the transmission can be adapted for web video-streaming. MPEG-DASH, a transport format for multimedia streaming, currently enables viewers to watch judder-free videos via