Bye bye H.265, hello VP9. Or is it really?
In this small world of video conferencing, there’s a battle brewing. One fought between the incumbent players and the entrants who bring with them this new technology called WebRTC. One of the main contention points at this time is the mandatory video codec: will it be H.264, a royalty bearing codec, as the incumbents want; or will it be VP8, which is free.
What is important to understand here, that the batter is larger than WebRTC’s MTI. It has a lot more to do with YouTube than it has to WebRTC. If there was a need for proof, then just read the news from CES about YouTube, 4K and VP9.
The short story?
- YouTube is adding 4K support (that’s 4 times the resolution of 1080p HD video)
- They are doing that with VP9 codec and not H.264 or H.265
- They lined up “a few” hardware partners: ARM, Broadcom, Intel, LG, Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, Panasonic, Philips, Qualcomm, RealTek, Samsung, Sigma, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba (that’s like the who’s who of chipsets and consumer electronics)
Why does it matter?
- I’ve asked a couple of months ago someone in the TV if he heard about VP9. He said all the chatter with TV is around H.265. This may now change
- YouTube accounts for 19% of downstream traffic in North America. That’s second to only Netflix’s 31.6% (source). That’s most of the video on the internet
- Neflix is taking the route of H.265 and 4K. Fragmentation of video coding is here to stay
- VP9 seems to be taking no prisoners in its effort to build the missing ecosystem around it. It is doing so at the speed of Google, which is faster than any standards committee is going to take to get H.265 the wide acceptance it needs
Will this kill H.265 before it gets off the ground? As I’ve stated in the past, the only thing H.264 has over VP8 is ecosystem and hardware acceleration. Both are immaterial when it comes to H.265 and VP9. Google knows that as well and is making the right moves to position VP9 as the future codec.
If it could nail this one in either YouTube/streaming or WebRTC – it will be enough of a tipping point for the other to follow suite.
And if you are contemplating which video codec to use in your WebRTC application then read more about VP9 codec in WebRTC.