We’ve all heard the hype: H.265, also known as HEVC, will
be the panacea for our bandwidth woes, offering the same
quality at half the bitrate of H.264, better macroblocking
performance, and more. But is HEVC really the solution we’ve
been waiting for?
HEVC is two times more efficient than H.264. In theory,
video encoded with HEVC will achieve equivalent video quality
at half the bitrate or double the video quality at the same bitrate
when compared to H.264. H.265 does this using a number of
techniques, one of which is doing away with standard square
macroblocks and replacing them with subdividable, 64x64 pixel
Coding Tree Units. In other words, HEVC can more effectively
chop up the picture, resulting in better encoding efficiency.
There are even more improvements built into HEVC, but
even with the latest compression technology, how, and more
importantly, will the industry immediately abandon existing
stalwarts such as H.264?
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH HEVC?
The short answer to this question is: not much. Well, not
much yet. Up until just recently, licensing rights for HEVC
use haven’t been clear, preventing most major technology
companies and web platforms from developing support for
the codec. Those in the encoder space have been gradually
adopting the new standard, but it has generally been reserved
for behind-the-scenes video transmission and delivery.
However, Apple’s June 2017 announcement that it will
embrace the codec in both iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra sets
the stage for wide consumer access.
Outside of Apple, support among consumer tech giants is
thin but growing, and adoption is expected to expand rapidly
through the coming year. Until then, IP video users on the
cutting edge have just a few choices for HEVC, and that includes
the venerable Teradek Cube.
MEET THE TERADEK CUBE 700 AND 800 SERIES
Cube is an ultra-portable, power-efficient, do-it-all video
encoder that fits in the palm of your hand. From streaming to
the web to point-to-point broadcasting to real-time monitoring
on iOS devices, Cube can do it all.
The 700 series introduces HEVC encoding at resolution/
framerates up to 1080p60, while the 800 series offers the same
features but adds 4K resolution. Each device also supports
H.264, allowing you to swap between codecs when needed.
Is It Time To Go Live
H.265 (left) vs. H.264 (right) macroblocking efficiency
Despite the HEVC encode (left) being 1 Mbps below the H.264 encode (right), the image quality is
Teradek Cube is designed as a camera-top encoder for mobile applications, but can easily be
integrated into studio workflows. Also available in rack-mount form.