The first commercial implementations of Haivision's HEVC encoding allied with the company's Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) protocol, are due in the new year.
HEVC was perhaps the hottest topic at this year's IBC show in September, but while most demos sought to showcase 4K HEVC in a controlled environment,Haivision took a different tack. The company showed off its HEVC encoding delivered via Haivision's proprietary Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) protocol—sent over the public internet from a hotel close to the conference venue.
How dynamic is MPEG-DASH Ecosystem after IBC 2013 ? Here is an analysis of the latest trends and an extensive industry DASH-compliant solutions directory.
While most of IBC’s buzz was generated by the shiny HEVC + 4K couple, it was a good occasion to stand back from the hype and measure how one of the most important video standards (at least for the OTT world) had spread over the industry since last year. MPEG-DASH is not sexy (let’s remember that it’s basically a collection of XML schemes), it’s a bit boring (as it’s usually demonstrated with the Big Buck Bunny that you saw not less than 2.000 times) and it’s complex – but once you go past those defaults, you might find that its potential to simplify your workflows and boost the profitability of your video service is high…
And that’s precisely what the industry has finally understood: video distributors want to streamline their workflows and save their storage budgets by reducing the number of output formats, they search for ways to build long term strategies with evolutive solutions – and all of this implies rolling away from proprietary ABR solutions like Smooth Streaming, HLS, HDS and the now defunct Widevine WVM proprietary packaging format (rest in peace), DASH’s first victim.
L’IBC était l’occasion de faire le point sur l’offre de plusieurs concepteurs de chipsets pour set-top-boxes. Chaque année, les gammes évoluent pour tenir compte de l’évolution des besoins et de l’environnement technologiques : la gestion du multi-écrans, le support de l’HEVC, l’arrivée de la 4K et la gestion des réseaux domestiques.
Le support d’HEVC est clé pour tout fabricant de chipset car les appels d’offre des opérateurs de TV payante et d’IPTV commencent à intégrer le support d’HEVC. Ce support permet aux opérateurs d’étendre le parc de clients éligibles à l’IPTV. Pas question d’UHD dans ce cas, mais de simple SD ou HD. Comme l’HEVC réduit de 30% à 50% le débit nécessaire pour la transmission de vidéo, le bénéfice est évident pour les opérateurs. Les autres bénéfices de l’HEVC sont de réduire les coûts de CDN (Content Delivery Networks, les serveurs dans le cloud qui optimisent l’accès aux vidéos pour les consommateurs) et aussi d’améliorer les offres mobiles de consommation de vidéo en live comme à la demande. Les appels d’offre d’aujourd’hui correspondent à des déploiements qui démarreront entre fin 2014 et fin 2015 et génèreront une base installée de box qui devra tenir jusqu’à facilement 2019. Donc, il faut voir loin !
With all the excitement around HEVC and all the reports we have put out at Frost & Sullivan on the topic, we get asked all the time if MSOs should skip AVC and directly switch from MPEG-2 to HEVC. Why is this such an enticing notion and does the idea actually bear merit? To answer that question, first, some history is in order.
Back in the nineties as North America transitioned to digital cable, MPEG-2 was the state of the art compression technology at the time. North America was ahead of the game even with HD and thus nearly all cable applications relied on MPEG-2 for SD and HD alike. But the industry paid a price for that early innovation – no sooner were they done with HD deployment than AVC broke onto the scene and fundamentally disrupted the video compression equation. Faced with a weak economical outlook (remember the dot com crash of 2002, anyone?), and having just made major investments in HD rollouts, the cable industry was unable to take advantage, in a meaningful way, the benefits offered by AVC. In contrast, as Europe began to transition somewhat later in the game, they did use MPEG-2 for SD digital cable but predominantly use AVC for HD.
Fast forward to 2013, when the growth of North American cable subscribers slows and IPTV is surging in popularity with its vast array of content and the lure of rich applications enabled by bi-directional connectivity. The writing on the wall is clear to MSOs –they can transition their primary business to broadband services, or they must dramatically reinvent themselves and the user experience they offer to remain relevant as mainstream Pay TV service providers. Wherein lies the rub – how do MSOs meaningfully and strategically invest in infrastructure that will ensure they are at state of the art over the next decade?
Google today announced it has enabled its VP9 video codec by default on the Chrome dev channel. The addition means users of the company’s browser can expect to see the next-generation compression technology available out-of-the-box before the end of the year.
For users, the main advantage of VP9 is that it’s 50 percent more efficient than H.264, meaning that you’ll use half the bandwidth on average when watching a video on the Internet. Yet that doesn’t take H.265 into account, the successor to H.264 that offers comparable video quality at half the number of bits per second and also requires its implementers to pay patent royalties.
VeriSilicon announced today the availability of Hantro G2 multi-format video decoder IP to support ultra HD 4K video decoding for HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding, aka H.265) video coding standard. The G2 IP also adds support for the upcoming VP9 web video format from the WebM Project. In addition, all legacy video formats such as H.264, VP8, MPEG-4, VC-1, AVS (soon also AVS+), MPEG-2, DivX, Sorenson Spark and VP6 are supported in Hantro G2 IP.
Nicolas Weil's insight:
Interesting to note that a long-time VP supporter promotes HEVC first...
Google plans to release the VP9 codec in less than a month. While it sounds promising, deep-pocketed companies will want to hold off on adoption.
In a series of blog posts last week, Google detailed the final release schedule for VP9 and a few other implementation details. These posts also indicated that YouTube plans to start using VP9 once it’s available in Chrome. Unfortunately for Google, recent patent infringement claims from Nokia seriously muddy the waters regarding whether or not VP8 and VP9 will ultimately be royalty free.
What’s clear at this point is that multiple companies have patents relating to HEVC technology, and they plan to ask for royalties from those who use their technology. This was the case with H.264 as well, and though many in the streaming industry grumbled about the royalties, this disgruntlement certainly didn’t limit H.264’s success.
Two things are different with HEVC. First, where H.264 involved a single group of patent holders administered by MPEG LA, it appears that some HEVC patent holders want to pursue royalties outside of a patent group, which will make it more challenging for HEVC users to license the technologies. According to “Patent Snafus Could Delay New Video Codec,” Mediatek and Qualcomm do not want to join the HEVC group formulated by MPEG LA, and Samsung hasn’t decided either way.
Our contact at MPEG LA reported that while the HEVC group had met three times as of February 2013, there was still no guarantee that a group would be formed or that all patent holders would join the group. So it appears that HEVC early adopters will have to decide to implement the technology without knowing the cost.
For large companies such as Adobe, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, that might be tenable; the H.264 license was capped, and it’s reasonable to assume that the HEVC license will also be capped. All four companies can amortize that cost over millions of product units shipped, and I think it’s highly likely that one or more of these companies will announce HEVC integration by NAB.
Nicolas Weil's insight:
Royalties scheme will indeed be a determining adoption factor.
At this year’s NAB show in Las Vegas, Motorola moves beyond basic technology demonstrations and will exhibit a practical implementation of HEVC with its first HEVC encoding and decoding in real-time. One demo will feature a real-time HEVC encoder delivering streaming content to a Google Nexus 10 tablet for real-time decoding and playback. A second demo will showcase real-time HEVC HTTP livestreaming to an Apple iPad (4th generation). A third demo will show an IP set-top box decoding HEVC. Motorola’s demonstrations will highlight how the compression efficiency of HEVC enables high-quality video delivery over bandwidth constrained networks to multiple platforms.
One of the best things about presenting at Streaming Media conferences is that the expertise level of attendees is so high that it’s rare you don’t learn a thing or so in the sessions that you present. So it was during my HEVC session atStreaming Media West.
The week before the session was the first time I was able to gauge the quality of HEVC with my own test clips. Though I had expected less than the oft-stated 50% bandwidth savings as compared to H.264, the Rovi-supplied clips encoded with the MainConcept HEVC codec lived up to the billing, confirming that HEVC should allow content producers to shave bandwidth costs significantly.
Yesterday, Sony continued its push to jump-start the 4K ecosystem with the announcement of a 4K TV media player. The $699 device will be available from retailers on July 15th and will come bundled with 10 movies and video shorts at 4K resolution. The encoder technology for the content comes from eyeIO, the power behind the Netflix streaming service. I stopped by eyeIO offices to get a demonstration of some of the 4K content. What I found convinced me more than ever that online delivery will lead the ultraHD charge. However, regardless of 4Ks fortunes advanced video codecs like eyeIO's are a game-changer.
Doubly amazing is the bitrate these movies were being streamed at: less than 10mbps! Mr. Vargas also claimed the next release of the codec will reduce that even further. At bitrates as low as this many consumers in the US could stream a 4K movie today on their existing broadband connections.
HEVC encoding and decoding technology is “ready for primetime,” but licensing negotiations are holding up real-world deployments.
While it was clear from walking the exhibit floor in Amsterdam that HEVC encoding and decoding technology is now “ready for primetime” as Sam Blackman, CEO of Elemental technologies put it, the licensing negotiations now underway between MPEG LA, the standardizing body, and those that would implement the patented technology into their products (consumer electronics companies and broadcast equipment suppliers), are holding back real-world deployments.
According to Blackman, companies like Apple, Samsung and others now have the technology to utilize HEVC, but they don’t dare for fear of having to pay billions in licensing fees. Although there has been no official comment on the negotiations, word on the street is that MPEG LA is seeking a $20 million cap on single users, whereas they receive roughly a $7 million cap for the use of H.264 today. The big difference reflects the potential multiple uses that new IP-based video services will require in the future.
Although Ultra HD was the visible headline story from IBC2013, with demonstrations of the new format everywhere, the serious business, when you scratched beneath the surface, revolved around multiscreen TV yet again. The technologies to get multiscreen deployed and then make it a compelling user experience have dominated the last five shows, with only 3DTV offering any serious challenge for the crown before disappearing off our radar. This year the focus was on personalizing and monetizing multiscreen TV more effectively, while there is also a trend towards end-to-end multiscreen solutions (including multi-vendor pre-integrations) and managed services. A key driver for these last two trends is the need to help smaller operators into the multiscreen market.
Company teamed with MulticoreWare to help develop and promote an H.265/HEVC codec, building on the success of the x264 codec, and already claims encouraging data rate reductions for encoding.
Telestream reached out to MultiCoreWare for assistance with multicore CPU and GPU acceleration. Telestream also involved Jason Garrett-Glaser, lead developer of the x264 project, who provided guidance on how to best apply parallelization to the x264 codec. The three-way collaboration worked so well that Telestream decided to apply it to the next generation x265 codec.
Rovi Claims to achieve transcoding conversion time savings via software using a single decoded stream and offering up to 10 simultaneous re-encodes for any given stream.
With today's announcement that it is releasing version 1.0 of the MainConcept software development kit (SDK) for H.265, Rovi Corporation hopes to jumpstart usage of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) in existing digital media workflows.
"The new MainConcept HEVC SDK 1.0 not only enables developers to increase the ease with which high-quality video content is delivered through existing cable, internet and wireless channels," stated a company press release, "but it also features innovative new technology to significantly reduce content conversion times."
The new SDK offers an Application Programming Interface (API) and is based on the MainConcept library of codecs. The intent of the SDK and integrated API, according to Rovi, is to "ease the process of adding HEVC support to new or in-market solutions." The SDK also includes an HEVC encoder and decoder. It is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, in both 32- and 64-bit version with a low-level C++ API and DirectShow filters.
Nicolas Weil's insight:
Interesting part is the conclusion : "Rovi says it expects to see additional gains for the HEVC SDK, doubling efficiencies from the current 20 percent gains, as it further optimizes its HEVC codec."
It's interesting to see how companies are ready to trade off maturity and performance over time to market. Let's remember that the initial HEVC promise confirmed by all industry actors as a target for VOD gain is 50%...
NHK's 8K Super Hi-Vision is an extremely bandwidth-heavy format -- so much so that earlier tests used gigabit-class internet links rather than traditional TV broadcasting methods. Thankfully, both the broadcaster and Mitsubishi have developed an encoder that could keep data rates down to Earth. The unassuming metal box (above) is the first to squeeze 8K video into the extra-dense H.265(HEVC) format, cutting the bandwidth usage in half versus H.264. Its parallel processing is quick enough to encode video in real time, too, which should please NHK and other networks producing live TV. We'll still need faster-than-usual connections (and gigantic TVs) to make 8K an everyday reality, but that goal should now be more realistic.
European-based satellite bandwidth provider SES has succesful tested an end-to-end file transmsission solution for UltraHD content using the H.265 coding scheme. The compressed 3840×2160 pixel (4K) signal was broadcast from an Astra satellite at 19.2 degrees East in DVB-S2 using a data rate of 20 Mbps. According to those that saw it, the live transmission provided significant improvements in file size and image quality when compared to H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) compression.
The company used technology from Harmonic and Broadcom Corp. to show that it can be done at the SES Industry Days in Luxembourg (April 18-19), using Harmonic’s ProMedia Xpress and a HEVC decoder reference-design system based on Broadcom’s BCM7445 Home Gateway Chip for receiving and displaying HEVC encoded UltraHD television transmissions.
Ultra-HD 4K broadcasting may be all the rage at NAB, but the implementation of the HEVC codec that makes it all possible is happening first for streaming video over-the-top. At NAB, virtually every video processing developer is highlighting adoption of HEVC/H.265 into their products; here we'll take a look at a few of the most notable who were willing to talk about their NAB plans in advance.