HEVC goes mainstream, enables up to 8K content
During the American National Association of Broadcasters's NAB Show, content creators, broadcasters and display manufacturers made announcements and demonstrations involving high efficiency video coding (HEVC) for the delivery of ultra high definition, also known as 4K, content on devices including set-top boxes, televisions, tablets, and smartphones.
Even going beyond 4K, Japanese public broadcaster NHK laid out its plans to demonstrate over-the-air transmission of 8K content (so-called Super Hi-Vision featuring 7680x4320 pixels) in a single 6MHz UHF TV channel. In February, the company had announced an 8K sensor that could shoot video at 120 frames per second(fps), with an 8K-capable video camera weighing under 2kg.
For the efficient delivery of heavy Ultra HD content boasting 3840×2160pixels at either 60fps or 120fps, you must not only be able to acquire and process video at that sort of resolution and frame rate, but you must also be able to encode and decode it efficiently to enable data streaming.
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) is the name of the game. H.265 / HEVC is said to double the data compression ratio compared to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC for the same level of video quality. It can support 8K UHD and resolutions up to 8192x4320.
At NAB, MaxLinear and STMicroelectronics announced a reference design for ultra HD set-top boxes and gateways, for satellite pay-TV operators.
The reference design supports multiple decode, multi-channel personal video recorders (PVR), video-on-demand (VOD) and multiple transcoding for streaming to second-screen clients. It combines MaxLinear's MxL5xx family of satellite Full-Spectrum Capture receivers and ST's pin-compatible STiH312 "Cannes" and STiH412 "Monaco" set-top box SoC decoders.
Altera was keen to announce that its H.265 Enhanced Motion Estimation Engine, paired with server software from video delivery infrastructure provider Harmonic could enable 4Kp60 real-time performance, cutting on rack space and CPU processing power.
Barco Silex also demonstrated 4K Video over IP, combining its JPEG2000 compression IP cores and transport stream solutions with Xilinx' SMPTE 2022 cores on a single Kintex 7 device to deliver encoded content compliant with the VSF (Video Services Forum) for maximum interoperability.
Earlier this year at CES, French company Kalray was demonstrating a low power Ultra HD HEVC encoder running on its MPPA 256 Manycore processor (256 cores on a single chip), streaming DivX HEVC UltraHD video to a set top box (with live encoding and decoding) while drawing under 50W of power.
The company sees a big market opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of cloud infrastructures used by content providers to encode, decode or transcode multi-format and premium videos for multi-screen devices such as tablets and smartphones.
DivX HEVC is part of an end-to-end solution helping to accelerate the adoption of the next-generation compression standard across the entire video distribution system.
It includes MainConcept encoding SDKs for professional content creators, the DivX Video Service with studio approved DivX DRM for protected content delivery across multi-screen devices, and popular DivX consumer software tools for PC-based content creation and playback.
In addition, DivX HEVC is integrated into the DivX Certification program that allow IC and OEM customers to quickly bring to market mobile and consumer electronics products that enable consistently high-quality DivX HEVC video playback.
Solutions are also cropping up to stream Ultra HD content from a smartphone to a larger display such as a 4K-capable TV stuck on a wall. For instance, Toshiba Electronics' TC358840 Ultra HD HDMI to MIPI CSI-2 converter chipset supports 4K video resolution. The chipset converts an Ultra HD HDMI video stream to a dual CSI-2 video interface on an application processor, effectively converting a smartphone or a PC display into a 4K gateway for home TV.
The HDplay ICs rolled out by TranSwitch supports both HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) and DisplayPort standards, eliminating the need for active converter cables and enabling consumers to port 4K content from their notebook PCs, tablets and smartphones to Ultra-HD televisions (for those who can afford them).
- Julien Happich
EE Times Europe
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