The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute has announced that the standardization started in April 2018 of the new H.266/VVC video codec has now been completed and the more than 500-page standard specification has been finalized. The successor of the widely used H.265/HEVC codec is expected to save up to 50% of the data rate with the same picture quality.
The VVC Codec (also MPEG-I Part 3) was developed by Fraunhofer HHI together with industry partners such as Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Sony and Huawei and supports high resolutions up to 8K as well as HDR and 360° video. The prospect of a higher efficiency of the codec should please both (mobile) users and providers of streaming video on the net, because less data also means less costs - especially in view of the situation that video traffic accounts for an increasing share of the data traffic on the internet. According to the Fraunhofer HHI, a 90-minute film in UltraHD resolution encoded by VVC/H.266 should only be 5 GB in size (instead of 10 GB per H.265).
However, the VVC competes with the open and license-free AOMedia Video 1 Codec (AV1), which is developed by the Alliance for Open Media, which includes major companies such as Amazon, Apple, ARM, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, Nvidia and others.
It also has significant improvements over HEVC/H.265 and compresses more effectively (about 40%). Its advantage: it is free and already implemented in all major browsers (except Apple&s Safari) like Google&s Chrome, Microsoft&s Edg (via AV1 extension), Mozilla&s Firefox and Opera as well as the VLC player and the FFmpeg program library.
The new VVC codec, on the other hand, must first be licensed and implemented before it can be used - both by video providers such as streaming portals and by the end devices or programs required for playback.
It is planned to create a uniform and transparent licensing model for the VVC for the use of basic standard patents in connection with H.266/VVC. The Media Coding Industry Forum (MC-IF) was founded for this purpose. Besides the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, more than 30 companies and organizations belong to the MC-IF. The new chips required for the use of H.266/VVC, e.g. in mobile devices, are currently being developed. In autumn of this year, Fraunhofer HHI plans to release the first software (for both encoders and decoders) that supports H.266/VVC.
It&s hard to say how big the chances are for the new codec in view of its late start and its still unclear license costs - on the other hand, the AV1 codec has just struggling with patent problems, which in the worst case could result in license cost payments. However, in the course of time three patent consortia had formed one after the other, which demand license fees for the use of the HEVC codec and thus cause uncertainty among licensees - a fate that could also threaten the VVC. According to a study by the BBC, its effectiveness is only slightly greater than that of the AV1 code and is accompanied by a longer computing time when compressing.