Fraunhofer HHI introduces video coding standard H.266 / VVC

The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) was instrumental in researching and standardizing the new worldwide video coding standard H.266 / Versatile Video Coding (VVC), which was completed and officially approved last week.

The Berlin Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI), which specializes in communications technology, has, together with numerous well-known partners from industry, including AppleEricsson Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Sony, researched and standardized the new worldwide video coding standard H.266 / Versatile Video Coding (VVC).

With significantly improved compression, the new standard achieves an additional significant 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). This enables a significantly faster video transmission with the same perceived image quality. 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.

Compressed video data currently make up 80 percent of global Internet traffic. Video transmission is therefore of great importance. The newly developed standard H.266 / VVC is currently the most modern and efficient representative of at least four generations of international standards for video coding. Fraunhofer HHI has already made significant contributions to the development of the previous standards H.264 / AVC and H.265 / HEVC. These two standards are now implemented in more than ten billion end devices worldwide and process over 90 percent of the total global volume of video bits. Both previous standards received three Emmy Engineering Awards for their significant contributions to the advancement of television technology.

H.266 / VVC was developed with the focus on ultra-high resolution video content. The new standard is to be used, for example, when streaming 4K or 8K videos on the flat-screen TV. 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 ten gigabytes of data have to be transferred when using the previous H.265 / HEVC standard. With H.266 / VVC you only need about five gigabytes with the same image quality. Another advantage of H.266 / VVC is its expanded field of application for all types of moving images. In this way, the new standard can also be applied in a particularly efficient manner to high-resolution 360-degree video panoramas or split screen contents.

“After almost three years of active standardization work, we are proud to have been instrumental in shaping the new H.266 / VVC standard,” says Benjamin Bross, video coding systems group leader at Fraunhofer HHI and editor of the over 500-page standard specification of H.266 / VVC . “The quantum leap in coding efficiency that H.266 / VVC offers will help to ensure that video usage continues to increase worldwide. In addition, the expanded versatility of H.266 / VVC will make the new standard attractive for a wider range of video transfer and storage applications. ”

“If you consider that Fraunhofer HHI was also significantly involved in the development of the previous video coding standards H.264 / AVC and H.265 / HEVC, we are pleased that over 50 percent of the bits on the Internet are now based on a Fraunhofer HHI technology are generated, ”adds Dr. Detlev Marpe, Head of Video Coding and Machine Learning at Fraunhofer HHI.

A uniform and transparent licensing model based on the FRAND principle (FRAND: fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) is planned for the award of licenses for standard essential patents of H.266 / VVC. For this purpose, the so-called Media Coding Industry Forum (MC-IF) was founded. In addition to the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the MC-IF now has over 30 companies and organizations. The new chips required for the use of H.266 / VVC are currently under development. “This autumn, Fraunhofer HHI will publish the first software that supports the new H.266 / VVC standard both from the encoder and the decoder,” announces Dr. Thomas Schierl, Head of Video Coding and Machine Learning at Fraunhofer HHI.

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