German AV codec experts the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute formally announced this week the development of a new AV compression codec optimized for 4K, 8K and other video resolution data formats, called Versatile Video Coding (VVC)/H.266, to serve as a possible successor to HEVC/H.265.

In a statement, Fraunhofer said it was a significant contributor in the development and standardization work, along with partners including: Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Sony.

The long-awaited codec was described as offering “improved compression” yielding data reduction with the same visual quality of 50 percent of the bit rate compared to its predecessor standard H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC).”

In other words, it will enable faster video transmission at the same level of perceived image quality.

VVC/H.266 will be up against a handful of other recent next-generation codecs vying for widespread use with 4K, 8K and other video resolution sources. Two of these new codecs include: MPEG 5/EVC from companies including Samsung, Qualcom and Huawei and AV1 from a group of companies in the Alliance for Open Media, including Amazon, Apple, Arm, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, NVIDIA, and Samsung Electronics.

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“Overall, H.266 / VVC ensures more efficient transmission and storage of all video resolutions from SD to HD up to 4K and 8K. In addition, high dynamic range video and omnidirectional 360-degree video are fully supported,” Faunhofer’s statement reads.

Versatile Video Codec H.266 is the latest a line of four-generations of video coding standards, more recently following H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC, which are now in use on more than 10 billion devices worldwide covering more than 90% the global video bit volume.

H.266/VVC is most specifically targeted at ultra-high resolution video content, and is expected to be very useful streaming 4K or 8K videos on the flat-screen TV, Fraunhofer said.

“The new type of data reduction also enables more efficient video transmission in the mobile network, where the data capacity is generally more limited. For a 90-minute UHD video, around 10 gigabytes of data have to be transferred when using the previous H.265 standard. H.266/VVC requires only about 5 gigabytes with the same image quality,” Fraunhofer said.

The new codec can also be applied with more efficiency to new video systems such as high-resolution 360-degree video panoramas or split screen video.

Fraunhofer’s statement said “a uniform and transparent licensing model based on the fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) principal will be used in issuing licenses to the standard essential patents of H.266/VVC. This will be administered by the new Media Coding Industry Forum (MC-IF).

Fraunhofer said new chips required for the use of H.266/VVC are currently under development, and Fraunhofer HHI plans to publish the announces Dr. Thomas Schierl, Head of Video Coding and Machine Learning at Fraunhofer HHI.

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By Greg Tarr

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