If you’ve played a video on your iPad, you’ve enjoyed the benefit of the H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC video coding standard. It was once the underdog to Flash and other omnipresent formats, but has now become the most-used codec, currently accounting for more than 80 percent of all web video — and even winning a PrimeTime Emmy award.
And now it’s about to be replaced as well, by a new codec [compressor-decompressor] that promises even greater efficiency, enough so that higher-than-HD resolution video can stream over the Internet and to mobile devices. H.265 “will considerably ease the burden on global networks where, by some estimates, video accounts for more than half of bandwidth use,” says the ITU, the United Nations agency for information and communication technology.
The new standard, known informally as ‘High Efficiency Video Coding’ (HEVC) will need only half the bit rate of its predecessor. “HEVC will unleash a new phase of innovation in video production spanning the whole ICT spectrum, from mobile devices through to Ultra-High Definition TV,” ITU says.
Of course, we’re a long ways from seeing hardware built specifically to work with the new format on the shelves, but software-based encoders and players may debut later this year.