High-Efficiency Video Coding, or HEVC/H.265, is one of the most important technologies of the decade. HEVC is expected to deliver the same visual quality as Advanced Video Coding (AVC or H.264/MPEG-4) while using about half the bandwidth. It can also support ultra high definition resolutions, such as 4K and 8K.
Why is that so special? HEVC will allow content distributors to deliver HD video to mobile devices over cellular connections at reduced bandwidth costs, as well as provide stunning 4K and beyond video to the home. HEVC is also a potential boon for consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers because it could stimulate demand for a new wave of hardware upgrades.
HEVC is also great for consumers, who can enjoy higher-resolution, less buffering entertainment experiences as video is streamed more seamlessly to all of their devices — even over limited-bit-rate connections. And, thanks to HEVC’s quantum leap in compression, consumers can store more home video, as well as hundreds of hours of entertainment and movies, while likely saving money in the process.
Still, despite the many benefits, HEVC is currently facing a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma. To date, HEVC adoption has been slowed by the scarcity of content and the lack of players. But which comes first, content or compatible playback devices? Content distributors don’t want to invest in a new technology without a significant installed base, and CE vendors don’t want to support a technology with very limited content available for playback.
The trick to breaking the logjam and accelerating the market’s adoption of HEVC is simultaneously delivering tools for content creation as well as the decoders needed for building support into devices. Of course, it’s all easier said than done. And, given that not all HEVC video will be created the same, trickier still to ensure compatibility across the video delivery value chain. The following is one take on how this could all come together and the market can enjoy the benefits of HEVC sooner rather than later.