Home / Blog / H.265 is coming. What will this mean for encode and decode engines?

H.265 is coming. What will this mean for encode and decode engines?

Earlier this year, Tech Crunch reported ­on the ITU’s approval of the H.265 standard for streaming video. The goal for the new standard – a.k.a. HEVC (for High Efficiency Video Coding) – is that, with better compression techniques, high quality HD streaming will be possible for those in bandwidth challenged areas, and/or relying on mobile connections to cellphones and tablets.  Those of us with good bandwidth will get some benefit, too. We’ll get better resolution for 4K TV/Ultra HD streams.

All this isn’t going to happen overnight, but having the new standard out there is good news.

Anyway, when I read about this on Engadget, I got to wondering what this would mean for encode and decode, which prompted me to pose a question in the comment section:

 With the advantages of 1/2 the bandwidth requirements over H.264, what will be the increased requirements on encode and decode engines to support it?

Someone – thank you, CPTel_Mike – jumped in with an answer.  Mike had talked to Envivio (which does software-based video processing solutions and which apparently hadn’t waited for ITU to speak before getting going on their H.265 work – they were talking about it last fall. He was told that they’ll be releasing a 1RU HEVC software encoder in the near future:

According to them this device can do 4 HEVC encodes at the same quality as 4 AVC encodes would be. Or to gain a 30% reduction in bandwidth it can do 1 HEVC encode. This is 1st gen technology for HEVC encoders. Back when AVC first came out 1 encode per a 1RU encoder was normal. Nowadays you can get up to 40HD AVC encodes per a 1RU encoder. So I expect that as time goes on encoders will get more dense.

Regarding decoding, that usually takes much less work than encoding. I’d expect that any modern (i3 and up) CPU could decode a HEVC video in software no problem.

That’s one answer, but it’s not 100% what I was looking for, and I’ve still got more questions. For sure you’d  think that, in order to decrease the bandwidth required of an encoded stream, the video encode algorithm is more complex, and would require additional CPU or CODEC power to accomplish. But how much?  And how soon do we think that the hardware-based CODEC engines will be available?

Any thoughts? Any answers?