After three years of research and standardization, Fraunhofer HH1 today announced the official launch and adoption of H.266, or Versatile Video Coding (VVC). The new standard is supported by companies like Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Sony, and it is a 50% more efficient than HEVC (H.265).
A 10GB movie with HEVC stays at 5GB with VVC
Being 50% more efficient implies that a film, if a 90-minute 4K video takes up 10 GB compressed with HEVC, with VVC the space it occupies is 5 GB without sacrificing quality. Or seen another way, the same 10 GB space can be kept, but doubling its bit rate to have even less compression. The difference with H.264 is even bigger, since that same movie would occupy 20 GB with the old codec.
The creation of this codec comes at a very important moment, since not only HEVC was beginning to lag behind what other alternatives like AV1 offer, but also the 8K is currently having a difficult advance because it does not have a codec with the than compress the content. An 4K movie can take around 50GB on average, and an 8K movie with HEVC takes up four times as much because it has four times more resolution. And there is no disk that accepts 200GB yet.
80% of Internet traffic is video
Therefore, that same 8K movie compressed with VVC would occupy 100 GB, and that does fit on a current Blu-ray. In addition, efficient codecs are increasingly needed to compress video, as the compressed video represents 80% of the world’s Internet traffic. H.264 and H.265 codecs are currently used by 10 billion devices, processing 90% of all video traffic in the world (72% of the total).
VVC will be a closed standard, although it will follow the same licensing philosophy as HEVC with fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory prices. In addition, they have stated that the new chips that are currently being designed will be able to hardware decoder this new codec. Therefore, it is expected that processors like the Snapdragon 875 and others released in 2021 will be able to decode it natively.
We will have to wait until next fall for the Fraunhofer HHI to publish the first software capable of encoding and decode content in VVC. At the moment, everything indicates that it will be much more efficient than AV1, so the open standard could be born dead, since it has the support of companies that were supporting AV1 itself such as Microsoft. Google, for its part, does not seem to be supporting it at the moment because it has many interests behind AV1.