​HEVC versus AV1: V-Nova Has A View

NAB will see heated debate over the attributes and potential of codec schemes for UHD, streaming and next-gen data intense applications. We asked Fabio Murra, SVP Product & Marketing, V-Nova for a view on this he responded with some insightful comments, not least about the place of V-Nova’s own codec, Perseus, in the scheme of things.

How successful has been the uptake of HEVC? Aside from needing a licence what other issues might be making adoption of HEVC problematic?

V-Nova: HEVC licensing issues have been dominating the debate on the adoption of the latest codec from the Moving Picture Expert Group (MPEG). Truth is, however, that like its predecessors, HEVC also requires new hardware to be deployable at scale, which takes time and comes at a large additional cost.

To date, HEVC is supported by the majority of new high-end STB chipsets, making it appealing for some 4K broadcast services. However, the smartphone replacement cycle has continued to slow down, with a majority of U.S smartphone users now waiting more than two years to upgrade their devices, and many existing devices in the market have no support for hardware acceleration – which is crucial for keeping power consumption to a minimum. For example, Apple provides HEVC hardware acceleration only in the iPhone 6S and later models. Support in the browser space is equally limited, with only Apple Safari providing support in software from iOS 11, and across the board support is limited to 8% of browsers for streaming. As a result, the market has become increasingly fragmented.

Newer technologies such as PERSEUS Plus solve this problem with a uniquely-flexible approach to improving compression efficiency. Our solution is built on top of existing codecs – whether h.264, HEVC, VP9 or AV1.It leverages whatever base hardware decoding capability and other hardware blocks are available in the device, enhancing the output of the base codec with additional layers of resolution. This approach enables a step-change in compression efficiency and extends compatibility to practically all devices in the market today.

What is the key advantage of AV1 in your view? 

AVI makes a number of promises, such as the potential for bandwidth savings over HEVC and a royalty-free model. Whether or not AV1 ultimately fulfills these promises, we now know that its adoption will come at a cost. AV1 will take considerably more computational resources (up to 100x times as of today), will require production workflows to be upgraded, and will require hardware support to be added to end-user devices. This means that AV1 will most likely be adopted first in consumer-side PC applications such as YouTube and for video on social networks, rather than in traditional broadcast workflows.

PERSEUS is proprietary and licenced - is the market saying that it does not want this model?

Not at all. Today V-Nova is already servicing a broad customer base from professional capture through to consumer distribution. The fact that our codec can be used to upgrade any existing h.264 service with better-than-HEVC compression efficiency, in days, and without the need for any new hardware, is proving to be a real eye opener for many operators, and promises to revolutionise their business models.

In addition, our solution is already supported by practically 100% of devices in the market, through its ability of being decoded with Javascript/WebGL on a HTML5 browser.

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