H.265 video? Old hat! Here's H.266!

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We've been used to H.264 video, now ubiquitous on smartphones in 2020. Then we had the more efficient H.265, codecs for which are even now not available on every platform and for common applications. And now we have H.266, announced this week by the Fraunhofer Institute, see the quote below. It's claimed to be twice as efficient again, meaning half the bandwidth/download size needed for the same quality as H.265. Pretty impressive. If you thought squeezing a music track into a 4MB MP3 file was cool then the mathematics behind H.266 would blow your mind....!

From the Fraunhofer press release:

After devoting several years to its research and standardization, Fraunhofer HHI (together with partners from industry including Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Sony) is celebrating the release and official adoption of the new global video coding standard H.266/Versatile Video Coding (VVC). This new standard offers improved compression, which reduces data requirements by around 50% of the bit rate relative to the previous standard H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) without compromising visual quality. In other words, H.266/VVC offers faster video transmission for equal perceptual quality. Overall, H.266/VVC provides efficient transmission and storage of all video resolutions from SD to HD up to 4K and 8K, while supporting high dynamic range video and omnidirectional 360° video.

Today, compressed video data make up 80% of global Internet traffic. H.266/VVC represents the pinnacle of (at least) four generations of international standards for video coding. The previous standards H.264/Advanced Video Coding (AVC) and H.265/HEVC, which were produced with substantial contributions from Fraunhofer HHI, remain active in more than 10 billion end devices, processing over 90% of the total global volume of video bits. Both previous standards were also recognized by collectively three Emmy Engineering Awards for contributing substantially to the progress of television technology.

Through a reduction of data requirements, H.266/VVC makes video transmission in mobile networks (where data capacity is limited) more efficient. For instance, the previous standard H.265/HEVC requires 10 gigabytes of data to transmit a 90-min UHD video. With this new technology, only 5 gigabytes of data are required to achieve the same quality. Because H.266/VVC was developed with ultra-high-resolution video content in mind, the new standard is particularly beneficial when streaming 4K or 8K videos on a flat screen TV. Furthermore, H.266/VVC is ideal for all types of moving images: from high-resolution 360° video panoramas to screen sharing contents.

Good stuff. When it means less buffering on our devices because less data is needed to stream video then I'm all for it. It'll be a couple of years before our smartphone cameras routinely capture in H.266/VVC though. Even now H.265/HEVC can cause issues when editing on some platforms.

Source / Credit: Fraunhofer