Cisco Debuts Thor, a Project to Create a Royalty-Free Video Codec

Article Featured Image

Does the online video industry need another standard? After HEVC Advance—the second HEVC patent group—announced its royalty rates in late July, more people are likely to answer yes.

In a blog post, Cisco fellow and vice president Jonathan Rosenberg announced that his company is leading a project called Thor to develop a codec that's advanced, next-generation, and royalty-free. Licensing costs for H.265 are up to 16 times that of H.264, he notes, and there's no upper limit. There's also no allowance for use in free software (including browsers) or freemium software.

"While HEVC Advance is quick to say how 'fair and reasonable' their terms are, they aren’t," noted StreamingMedia.com executive vice president Dan Rayburn in a separate post. "The best way to describe their terms would be unreasonable and greedy."

Thor's project's team includes Gisle Bjøntegaard and Arild Fuldseth, both of whom have made significant contributions to other video codecs, and a passel of patent lawyers who can make sure Thor doesn't get bogged down in legal actions over patent infringements.

Cisco has already open sourced Thor's code, making it available on GitHub. Rosenberg invites others to help develop Thor or to contribute intellectual property rights for the royalty-free project.

In a reply to a reader comment, Rosenberg said that a final version of Thor is still years away. 

Streaming Covers
Free
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues
Related Articles

Video Will Comprise 82% of All Net Traffic in 5 Years, Says Cisco

Cord cutting households use far more data than their pay TV peers, and the number of households using 1 TB of bandwidth per month is rising.

Cisco Will Acquire 1 Mainstream, Gaining OTT Video Services

With OTT offerings on the rise, Cisco scoops up a cloud-based video platform that should complement its own cloud video solutions.

With HEVC Royalty Payments Getting Steep, it's Thor to the Rescue

What can battle the two HEVC patent pools and the third one being formed? Cisco's open source video codec Thor is on the horizon.

HEVC Advance: What Do the Royalties Mean for Video Publishers?

While there have been some heated arguments against the royalties announced by the new patent group, the payments appear to be appropriate. We break it down with real-world numbers.

HEVC Advance Announces Royalty Rates, Wants 0.5% of Gross Revenue

Licensing costs for Netflix and Facebook would total over $100 million per year, and terms are retroactive. Group calls terms "fair and reasonable."

HEVC Advance Patent Pool Creates Confusion, Lacks Transparency

Details are sparse about HEVC Advance. The industry knew a second HEVC pool might form, but why do patent holders have a problem with MPEG LA?

HEVC Advance Misses First Milestone

The second HEVC patent pool promised to announce licensing terms and royalty rates last month, but its press conference was cancelled at the last minute, and no information has been made available.

UHD Codec Update: Legitimate Challengers to HEVC

Get an update on where UHD codecs are in their development life cycle, their comparative performance, and where they're being used.