Everything You Need to Know about H.266, AV1, and EVC

264. HEVC. VP9. If these words mean nothing to you, then you are not alone. Each is a type of video codec. Although we are responsible for every video we watch online or on Blu-ray, there is little reason to think that most people at home watch Netflix on their Roxas or Smart TVs.

However, recent developments in the codec world are about to bring some exciting changes to the way streaming video works, with some potential pitfalls. Here you have to know everything you need to know.

What is the codec?

Before we begin, let’s quickly discuss what the codecs are, and why there seem to be so many different ways to label them.

If you already know a lot about this stuff, you can shout, “Stop confusing the codecs with video coding formats, they are not the same!” You are right, they are different. But for most people, this difference doesn’t matter much, so we’re going to stick with the word codec, with our apologies to the tech community.

Kodak is a word – a word that combines two other words – “encode” and “decode”. It describes a method for taking a specific type of file (in this case a video file) and converting it through an encoding process. Encoding can accomplish a lot of things, but usually, it makes the file smaller using compression techniques.

Of course, once a file is encoded and sent to the Internet or stored on disk, whatever device or app needs to be decoded is responsible for playing the video, and a codec that Describes the method of performing the portion also.

If you are familiar with the MP3 format, then you are already codec-savvy, even if you don’t know it. The MP3 audio format that captured the world of music 20 years ago is actually an audio codec that can reduce CD audio tracks to less than one-tenth of their original size.

What’s with all those letters?

By technical standards, codecs are given the kind of labels that only an engineer can love. H.263, H.264, and H.265 are all examples of these labels. But with their formal designations, the codex is often given a friendly name such as “high-efficiency video coding”, which is naturally shortened to HEVC (hey, it’s all about making things small, right is?).

The most well-known example of a technical standard being given a friendly name is IEEE 802.11. For most of us, we know it as “Wi-Fi”.

Why should I care about codecs?

Frankly, the only people who should really care about the codecs are the engineers who develop them and the hardware, software and streaming service companies they need to implement.

But codecs can have a direct impact on the quality of the video we watch, the amount of video we use on our mobile or home data plan, and when we go to buy a new TV or streaming media device.

As such, it is worth tracking the development of the video codec world to ensure that you can take advantage of the latest benefits it offers.

Okay, so what’s changing?

You can think of the development of the codex in the world of audio and video as a never ending quest to find more efficient ways to reduce the size of a given file while preserving its quality.

The last major achievement in this discovery occurred in 2013 when H.265 – known as HEVC – first debuted. This increased the ability to take a video file and compressed it to half the size that the previous best codec (H.264 AVC) could achieve, and it did so without any loss in quality.

In real terms, this meant that if you streamed 4K resolution video using H.264, it would require 32Mbps of bandwidth. The same video required only 15Mbps, using HEVC.

But HEVC is now seven years old (which means the technology is still outdated) and it is time for it to pass the torch to a new generation.

H.266 VVC

H.266 Versatile Video Coding (VVC) is the brainchild of the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, the same group that developed the famous MP3 audio format, as well as AVC and HEVC. This is also known as future video coding (FVC) – seriously, how many names can we use for the same technique? – VVC can reduce the bandwidth required by another video by up to 50% on HEVC.

In an example given by Fraunhofer, using HEVC, you need 10GB of data to transmit a 90-minute 4K video. With VVC, only 5GB of data is required to achieve the same quality.

Fraunhofer HHI developed VVC in collaboration with several major electronics companies including Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Sony. The standard was finalized on July 7, 2020.


Running parallel to the development of VVC is AV1, a codec being developed by Alliance for Open Media, a non-profit organization whose members include Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Samsung and, perhaps most notably, Netflix .

The AV1 reportedly offers a 30% savings in bandwidth over HEVC – but potentially up to 40%.

If VVC is more efficient then why would we need AV1? By the way, money is also a big reason. The AV1 is considered open-source, meaning that anyone is free to use it without paying royalties or other fees. On the other hand, VVC requires a paid license.

If the cost savings from open source don’t already have enough benefit for the AV1, there’s another ace up its sleeve: Netflix started using the AV1 in limited capacity when streaming for Android devices is. When the greatest force in video streaming supports your technology, it is a good sign that it will be widely adopted by others.


Finally, the Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG) – the same people who created the MPEG-2 standard used for all ACS digital TV broadcasts – recently released its next-generation codec, MPEG-5 Required Video Coding. (EVC) is finalized.

Huawei, Qualcomm and Samsung have already approved it, and are committed to announce their licensing terms within the next two years. Like VVC and AV1, EVC promises greater efficiency over HEVC – requiring up to 25% less bandwidth – but EVC takes a different road to getting there. Instead of creating an entirely new video coding system, it applies new coding techniques to existing codecs such as AVC, HEVC and even AV1.

What does all this mean to me?

At the moment … nothing. Sorry, we know this was a lot of information to process for such a small payment, but here’s a look at why we don’t expect an impact anytime soon from these new codecs .

Even though it is now 17 years old, H.264 AVC still has a large share of the video codec market: 82% by 2018, at least by one estimate. In contrast, HEVC enjoyed only 12% in the same year.

HEVC’s failure to grab a large piece of the pie during its seven-year existence has mostly been chalked up to a rat’s nest of license terms that some have complicated and misapplied.

VVC is clearly a big leap from a technology point of view, but observers have already pointed out that this is despite HEVC’s commitment to a uniform and transparent licensing model based on the FRVC principle (ie, fair, unbiased) of HEVC. Can damage the same fate as proper, and non-discriminatory).

Both VVC and AV1 are able to offer their impressive efficiency gains because they rely on computationally heavy algorithms. In other words, any playback device such as a smart TV or streaming media player that is compatible with these new codecs will have to pack some serious computing horsepower – possibly more capable than current generation devices.

If you are on Netflix or any other provider of streaming or disc-based video, it probably makes no sense to roll out extensive support for the new codec unless your significant number of subscribers can take advantage of it.

Future is bright

Let us go on a positive note. Despite the financial and technical hurdles these new video codecs are facing, once the dust settles and they begin to deploy, this is a great thing for those looking for 4K, 8K, HDR , Or whoever wants to enjoy the next big thing, the video shows

The biggest advantage for more efficient codecs is that they can deliver the same high-quality image we use, but with less bandwidth.

If your home internet package does not come with unlimited data, it means that you will be able to stream as many 4K movies twice before you hit your cap. Once 8K movies become mainstream, they do not overshadow the network capacity (and your data plan) that they would be if you watched them with today’s codecs.

And which is great for those at home, it’s even more important for mobile users who usually have more restrictive data allowances.

It is also possible that the use of these new codecs may bring down the prices of streaming media subscriptions. This can be very optimistic, but consider this: If Netflix converted all of its content into video encoded using VVC, it would not only reduce its network bandwidth by half, it would Will also reduce its storage needs by half.

Will it pass those savings on to its customers? It would be nice if it did … after all, why shouldn’t better video compression reduce our monthly bills too?

Editors recommendations

Related Posts