New video format ‘halves data use of 4K and 8K TVs’

8K TV

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Although 8K TVs are becoming more common, there is currently little content available in that resolution

A new video coding technology has been announced that promises to reduce data use by at least half, after three years of talks with some of the major players in the technology sector.

The standard should allow people with slow connections to stream higher quality footage than before, without pauses for buffering.

It could also pave the way for on-demand services to offer 8K content.

But one expert warned that it will probably take years to take it.

The codec – which is called both H.266 and Versatile Video Coding (VVC) – was announced by the German Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute.

He said that Apple, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Intel and Huawei were among those who had worked on its development.

He hopes that, over time, smartphones and other cameras can automatically record and play back footage in the format. However, new chips will have to be developed before this can be done.

In the meantime, the recordings will have to be re-coded to take advantage of the additional compression made possible. Playback will likely require a fast processor because today’s hardware was not designed with the codec in mind.

Codec choices

H.266 is designed to require half the bitrate – the amount of data transmitted per second – like today’s H.265 standard.

The H.265 codec itself has halved the bitrate requirement of its predecessor H.264, which is still widely used.

“H.265 requires approximately 10 gigabytes of data to transmit an ultra high definition of 90 minutes [4K] video, “explains a press release.

“With this new technology, only 5 GB is needed to achieve the same quality.”

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Some experts believe that VR headphones will only be able to match reality when they can display 16K or higher resolutions

In order to reliably stream 8K video, tests have indicated that homes require Internet connections capable of exceeding 85 megabits per second (Mbps), which is beyond what many properties have today. However, this has the potential to drop to more manageable 40-50 Mbps if H.266 takes off.

Another advantage of the technology is that users should be able to save twice the amount of footage on the same amount of storage space, assuming they don’t use the codec to capture it in higher quality.

Many people’s homes are not large enough to accommodate a television large enough to appreciate the quadruple increase in the number of pixels that 8K offers over 4K.

However, the resolution jump has great advantages for virtual reality, which fills the user’s field of vision.

In addition, it offers a more efficient way to stream high-resolution 360-degree movies to next-generation headphones, where additional detail can make a big difference as users only ever see one section of the recorded image at a time .

But just because the standard exists, it doesn’t mean it will be universally embraced.

Google previously chose to use a self-developed format – VP9 – instead of H.265 to encode YouTube videos.

And a consortium – which includes Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Samsung – has already developed a successor, AV1. The video game streaming platform Twitch has already stated that it intends to move to “100%” of the format by 2024.

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Google avoided some of the licensing costs associated with H.265 by using a different codec for YouTube

“The history of the codec is always the same: everyone always wants to get better quality videos in a more efficient state, but the challenge is to get people to adopt it,” commented Ben Wood of CCS Insight consultancy.

“To be successful, a codec needs to get broad adoption by all the major players. And deciding to support one may somehow be a religious decision.”

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