A New Video Compression Standard and its Paradigm
As the transition from analog to digital content continues in the AV (audio-visual) world, the number of new consumer devices supporting digital audio and video processing, including TV-sets, DVD players, Digital Still Image Cameras (DSCs), and Digital Video Camcorders (DVCs), continues its rapid climb. Every portable personal device these days seems to include audio-visual features, including mobile phone, portables media players and PDA. In addition, the PC, networking and the broadband technologies are also doing their part to fuel this transition by facilitating the creation, streaming and sharing of content.
The desire to create and share AV content in digital format was one of the key factors contributing to the creation of international compression standards. The MPEG (moving picture expert group) and JPEG (joint photographic expert group) committees created the original standards that allowed the transition from analog AV to digital AV formats, allowing the sharing and transfer of multimedia content via networks or portable storage media (e.g. DVD-disc, SD-card, etc.). However, with the major paradigm shift in the consumer space from content consumption to content creation, there is an increasing need for higher quality content creation, larger volume of content storage, and easier content transmission/sharing.
In typical AV products, the video content consumes most of the processing power, storage space and communication channel bandwidth. MPEG-2 video compression technology was instrumental in the transition from analog to digital video processing. As a result, it became one of the most widely adopted compression standard in the consumer space. H.264 is now poised to replace MPEG-2 as the new compression technology with better quality at lower transmission bitrate and storage requirements. These improvements are critical in cost-sensitive consumer products and especially in portable consumer devices.
The H.264 (also known as MPEG-4-AVC ) standard was completed at the end of 2005 by a joint effort of the ITU-T and the MPEG organizations. This standard greatly improves the MPEG-2 compression ratio in a wide range of applications from small size (mobile AV) to HD (high definition) video. Many applications of H.264 technology have already been launched, including Blu-Ray Disc, HD-DVD, AVCHD-Camcorders (HD-CAM), iTune-video, 1-seg DTV (mobile digital TV in Japan), DVB-H for European handheld DTV, among others. There are two key factors behind the wide adoption of H.264:
H.264 offers between 2-to-1 and 3-to-1 improvement over MPEG-2 in compression ratio, resulting in significant savings in video storage capacity and network bandwidth.
H.264 provides efficient implementation of Internet based application because of its well considered scheme to harmonize with network protocols.
Networks are proliferating at home, office and anywhere in between! The bandwidth and quality of service of wired and wireless networks is increasing, and video streaming over these networks is already commonly seen in cable, satellite, IPTV and other applications. The combination of H.264 video compression technology and this ubiquitous broadband network connectivity is fueling an era of mobile digital life style.