Ultra High-Definition HEVC Video Codec to Bring HD Video to Portables First

4K Video Can Wait, HEVC to Bring 1080p to Smartphones and Tablets

by Anton Shilov
02/06/2013 | 11:50 PM

Without any doubts, high-definition video was one of the most important technologies introduced in the last decade and everything points to ultra high-definition video becoming a fundamental technology of this decade. The ratification of the first draft spec of H.265/HEVC has been hailed as the dawn of 4K video and television since the codec is crucial. But before it will make a 4K revolution, it will bring 1080p videos to portable devices.


High-efficiency video codec, or 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, which, on the one hand, allows to record UHD video on existing Blu-ray media, but on the other hand lets to compress HD video to fit them on mobile devices.

DisplaySearch analyst Paul Gray believes that while it is tempting to imagine that HEVC will unlock a new era of 4K broadcasting, HEVC’s main effect will likely be widespread high-definition video, not 4K TV.

“Like MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 before it, its greatest effect may be in perfecting the bleeding edge (in this case 1080p HD video) of the previous codec’s application. Furthermore, with the current ‘pixel war’ in tablet and smartphone screens, Internet video consumption devices are now HD-capable. The days of your entire HD video library in your pocket are not far away,” said Mr. Gray.

Video accounts for the vast majority of all data sent over wired and wireless networks these days, and that proportion is increasing: by 2015, it is predicted to account for 90% of all network traffic. The availability of a new HEVC compression format to reduce bandwidth, particularly in mobile networks where spectrum is expensive, paves the way for service providers to launch more video services with the currently available spectrum.

Modern mobile electronics gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets, already support full-HD (1080p) or even higher screen resolutions, but today it is pretty hard to download videos with such quality using mobile networks. As soon as portable electronics will gain support for HEVC and will be able to decode appropriate streams efficiently, it will be possible for HD video to make it to mobile devices.