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ATEME Claims 4K and 8K Over IP with New EAVC4 Codec

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French encoding specialists ATEME claim that their new EAVC4 codec is capable of delivering 4K and even 8K video over IP using current MPEG-4 compression. While ATEME is also a core member of a consortium researching the High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC)—the successor to MPEG-4 and designed expressly for higher resolutions—it suggests that Ultra-HDTV video transport can be achieved today.

ATEME claims that the H.264-compliant EAVC4 codec can deliver a 20% gain in efficiency over previous MPEG-4 H.264 AVC codecs.

“It provides a major leap forward in performance for users to either encode faster at current video quality levels or to significantly increase quality while maintaining current encoding speeds,” said ATEM CTO Pierre Larbier. The software unlocks the future of multi-screen delivery and supports MPEG growth demands while HEVC matures.

The EAVC4 encoder is said to have the following attributes:

  • Up to 20% bandwidth gains for progressive and interlaced content based on objective measures, and even higher gains based on visual perception
  • Reduced bandwidth for use cases with high and emerging market demand with support for iPad (1080p), smartphones (even at 64 Kbps), and all with efficient software-based CBR and VBR bit-rate regulation
  • Expanded range of available use cases—including 4K and 8K, 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 chroma, up to 14-bit coding precision, and AVC-I intra only coding

The technology makes use of a patented technique ATEME calls Multi-Screen by Design which the companysays  “relies on intelligent parallelisation to perform common processes only one time for all bit- ates and screen formats.”

It states that in practice this delivers up to three times more speed for file transcoding workflows, such as VOD processing, and three times as many linear channels per processor blade to benefit live transcoding workflows, such as IPTV.

There is already some 4K content available on-demand and supported by YouTube at a resolution of 4096 x 3072 pixels, (12.6 megapixels). The introduction of 4K-ready TV sets to the home in 2013 will see 4K begin to seep into the home however for longer term and wider scale streaming and DTT broadcast of UltraHDTV—4K (3840x2160) and 8K (7680x4320) resolutions—the industry is looking to standardise on HEVC.

ATEME is part of a three-year multi-million Euro research program, 4EVER, aiming to demonstrate a first complete Ultra-HDTV production and transmission chain by mid-2013.

Fellow 4EVER members include Orange Labs, GlobeCast, TeamCast, Technicolor, and Doremi Labs, as well as the Télécom ParisTech and INSA-IETR University Labs. On the production side, the lead partner will be France Télévisions which is already experimenting with 4K captured content. Orange is targeting the end of 2012 for end-toend 4K testing over its IP network.

“ATEME is well underway with plans for HEVC product releases. However, it is clear that the need for higher performance, encoding flexibility and improved multi-screen capabilities is not something that users can simply defer until the full testing and adoption of future HEVC solutions,” said Larbier.

The initial version of the HEVC standard, scheduled to be completed in January 2013, includes a 16x9 aspect ratio, progressive only, and frame rates up to 120Hz. It will be 8 bits/sample, 4:2:0, single layer only, with an extension planned for January 2014 that will include 10 bits/sample, 4:2:2, and 4:4:4.

The support for a higher frame rate option of 120Hz may be necessary for accurate portrayal of motion at extreme resolutions on large wall-sized displays. Pay-TV operators and vendors are already thinking along such lines. NDS, for example, demonstrated delivery of 4K UHDTV to large displays at IBC 2011 over its Surfaces platform.

If a plug-in can be developed for download then the first applications of HEVC can be used almost immediately for carrying HD video over the internet.

“Today’s video encoding systems must not only support large-scale, continuous video encoding operations, but they must also offer a high degree of flexibility for outputting different levels of video quality, frame-rates, bit-rates and screen resolution. The release of EAVC4 addresses the ever-escalating consumer demand for rich video content now, and empowers broad access across an increasing number of viewer devices.”

The EAVC4 will be available shortly as part of ATEME’s TITAN range of transcoders.

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