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H.266/VVC Announced: Big Gains for 4K & 8K Streaming

Blog from Playbox Technology UK Ltd

Wed 26, 08 2020

Video compression is widely regarded as an incredibly fast-moving topic. Rapid technological developments and unforeseen innovations can vastly alter the future of compression for OTT and streaming service providers, as well as hardware manufacturers. It’s a never-ending race to the top, where the prize is efficiency, quality and accessibility.

On July 6th, the final Versatile Video Coding (VVC), or H.266 codec, was announced. The video encoding technology is designed with 4K and 8K video streaming in mind – and is slated to reduce the data requirements of streaming the standards by 50% when compared to H.265, or High-Efficiency Video Coding (HVEC).

Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Sony and Huawei were among the tech giants who partnered with the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute to develop and introduce the global video coding standard. Reportedly, the improved compression won’t sacrifice visual quality – the selling point of H.266 lies in the ability to maintain the visual fidelity of H.265 with half the required bitrate. Sounds perfect – especially when streaming over mobile networks – where data is valuable and efficiency is key.

8K itself has long been an unattainable goal for your typical household. Firstly, 8K TVs will set you back a pretty penny – many households haven’t even embraced 4K televisions yet! Also, In 2019, the average UK home ISP speed peaked at 54 megabits per second (Mbps). Sounds good, but reliable 8K streaming currently requires a minimum of 80+ Mbps. With H.266, you can expect the required speed to halve – a crucial first step in improving the accessibility of 8K for everyday usage.

Nowadays, you can’t talk about H.266 or H.265 without mentioning AV1. AOMedia’s Video 1 codec, or AV1, was introduced in 2018 as the royalty-free, open-source alternative to H.265. Since then, Netflix has adopted AV1 to perform selected Android streams. AOMedia also boasts an exceptional roster of adopters, and was founded by industry giants like Microsoft, Google and Facebook. AV1 already claims to offer 30% better compression than H.265, and the royalty-free status is a game changer – but we’re yet to see mass adoption and awareness for the codec.

When assessing playout, broadcast and live streaming solutions, you might be wondering whether a certain codec/format is supported. Can I schedule various media file formats in one playlist? Am I limited to particular compression types? With AirBox, there’s no restrictions – our solutions are compatible with a limitless range of compression types and media containers. All compatible formats can be seamlessly integrated into your playlists and delivered effortlessly. For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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