Using Innography software we recently completed a high-level analysis of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) technologies. Our subsequent technology intelligence report provides a detailed landscape of essential patents for HEVC technologies, identifies the major players in the area, and offers insight into licensing costs, market trends and future challenges and solutions for large corporations exploring HEVC. In this blog, we take a closer look at the history of HEVC and its first stages of development.
HEVC (also known as H.265) is a video compression standard originally developed to provide high quality video coding using half the bandwidth cost. The technology is anticipated to be used in almost all video processors and display devices in the future, but where did it start and why does it matter?
HEVC delivers an average bit rate reduction of 50% compared to the previously adopted standard of H.264, transmitting the smallest amount of information necessary for a specified level of video quality. This saves bandwidth cost, but also enables higher quality television delivery over the internet.
The latest television technology (4K) contains four times the number of pixels as 1080p (full HD). Without HEVC, broadcasters wanting to transmit programmes in 4K quality face the challenge of needing high quality broadband reception to make 4K broadcasts a reality. A benefit of HEVC is that it makes broadcasting 4K more feasible– reducing both the cost and time it takes to deliver high quality programming.
A developing technology
Development of HEVC started immediately after the preceding video coding standard (AVC) was finalised in 2003. AVC (Advanced Video Coding) is a block-oriented motion-compensation-based video compression standard that remained one of the most commonly used formats for recording, compression, and distribution of video content.
The techniques specified in the first version of the HEVC standard described the main 8-bit coding profiles and the technology has since been implemented in software and hardware decoders now found in mobiles, computers, televisions and set top boxes (STBs). It is predicted that HEVC will be adopted in satellite, cable, broadcast, gaming and streaming by the end of the decade.
The big players
HEVC technology is the brainchild of several technology giants and was developed as a joint venture between Samsung, Qualcomm, LG, Mediatek, Microsoft, SK Telecom, Huawei and a number of other companies. Of the 993 relevant HEVC patent families - identified through our analytics team’s analysis of 6500 patent families - most are still owned by the companies and institutes involved in the first stages of development. However, there are approximately 75 other companies and institutes that now own patents defining the HEVC standard.
By providing substantially improved video quality at the same bit rate to other technologies, it is anticipated that HEVC will be used in almost all video processors and display devices in the future. With technology companies such as Hitachi and Broadcom now adopting the technology for their new innovative TV offerings, HEVC has achieved significant industry recognition in the five years since its development.
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