ITU members agree on new video codec

ITUITU members have agreed on a new video coding standard building on ITU-T H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC with hopes of easing pressure on global networks.

The new codec will ease the burden on global networks where, by some estimates, video accounts for more than half of bandwidth use. The new standard, known informally as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) will need only half the bit rate of its predecessor, ITU-T H.264 / MPEG-4 Part 10 Advanced Video Coding (AVC), which currently accounts for over 80% of all web video.

HEVC will unleash a new phase of innovation in video production spanning the whole ICT spectrum, from mobile devices through to Ultra-High Definition TV.

ITU-T’s Study Group 16 has agreed first-stage approval (consent) of the much-anticipated standard known formally as Recommendation ITU-T H.265 or ISO/IEC 23008-2. It is the product of collaboration between the ITU Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).

ITU-T H.265 / ISO/IEC 23008-2 HEVC will provide a flexible, reliable and robust solution, future-proofed to support the next decade of video. The new standard is designed to take account of advancing screen resolutions and is expected to be phased in as high-end products and services outgrow the limits of current network and display technology.

Companies including ATEME, Broadcom, Cyberlink, Ericsson, Fraunhofer HHI, Mitsubishi and NHK have already showcased implementations of HEVC. The new standard includes a ‘Main’ profile that supports 8-bit 4:2:0 video, a ‘Main 10’ profile with 10-bit support, and a ‘Main Still Picture’ profile for still image coding that employs the same coding tools as a video ‘intra’ picture.

The ITU/ISO/IEC Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC) (formerly JVT) will continue work on a range of extensions to HEVC, including support for 12-bit video as well as 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 chroma formats. Another important element of this work will be the progression of HEVC towards scalable video coding. The three bodies will also work within the Joint Collaborative Team on 3D-Video (JCT-3V) on the extension of HEVC towards stereoscopic and 3D video coding.