ITU Approves Final Version of H.265/HEVC Codec for Ultra High-Definition Video

ITU Members Agree on H.265/HEVC Video Codec

by Anton Shilov
01/28/2013 | 02:25 PM

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has approved the next-generation video codec for both high-definition and ultra high-definition video. High efficiency video coding (HEVC) also known as H.265 will need only half the bit rate of its predecessor, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. HEVC will unleash a new phase of innovation in video production spanning the whole IT spectrum, from mobile devices through to ultra high-definition TV.


ITU-T’s study group 16 has agreed first-stage approval (consent) of the much-anticipated standard known formally as recommendation ITU-T H.265 or ISO/IEC 23008-2. It is the product of collaboration between the ITU video coding experts group (VCEG) and the ISO/IEC moving picture experts group (MPEG). ITU-T H.265/ISO/IEC 23008-2 HEVC will provide a flexible, reliable and robust solution, future-proofed to support the next decade of video. The new standard is designed to take account of advancing screen resolutions and is expected to be phased in as high-end products and services outgrow the limits of current network and display technology.

HEVC/H.265 codec supports maximum resolution of 7680*4320 and therefore can support both incoming quad-FHD (3840*2160, QFHD or 4K) as well even beyond ultra high-definition resolutions (7680*4320, UHD, UHDTV or Super Hi-Vision [SHV]) video. HEVC/H.265 is, according to some experiments, is 51% - 74% more efficient than today’s MPEG4-AVC/H.264.

The new standard  includes a ‘Main’ profile that supports 8-bit 4:2:0 video, a ‘Main 10’ profile with 10-bit support, and a ‘Main Still Picture’ profile for still image coding that employs the same coding tools as a video ‘intra’ picture.

The ITU/ISO/IEC joint collaborative team on video coding (JCT-VC) (formerly JVT) will continue work on a range of extensions to HEVC, including support for 12-bit video as well as 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 chroma formats. Another important element of this work will be the progression of HEVC towards scalable video coding. The three bodies will also work within the joint collaborative team on 3D-video (JCT-3V) on the extension of HEVC towards stereoscopic and 3D video coding.

“ITU-T H.264 underpinned rapid progression and expansion of the video ecosystem, with many adopting it to replace their own proprietary compression codecs. The industry continues to look to ITU and its partners as the global benchmark for video compression, and I have no doubt that this new standard will be as effective as its predecessor in enabling the next wave of innovation in this fast-paced industry,” said Hamadoun I. Touré, secretary-general of ITU.