Technical Insights - Embedded

Next Generation 4K Video Codec Experience – Ultra HD

The next-generation High Efficiency V...
Technical Insights - Embedded

handling 3D, 48-60 fps encodes, and even 4K. The Blu-ray disc standard doesn’t currently in...
Technical Insights - Embedded

First up — file sizes. What we’re comparing here is actually the size of the elementary vid...
Technical Insights - Embedded

Performance & image quality

The next area we wanted to consider was performance. H.265 is ...
Technical Insights - Embedded

The parallelization performance looks good — Sandy Bridge-E, with six cores, is somewhat ah...
Technical Insights - Embedded

Original uncompressed

H265 Q=24

FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential

Page 6 ...
Technical Insights - Embedded

H264 Q=24
The variance here is minimal. The hardwood floor underneath the leaping player is...
Technical Insights - Embedded

H.264 Q=30

At q=30 (file sizes of 6.39MB and 10.87MB), the H.265 video stream is arguably ...
Technical Insights - Embedded

Encode/decode support, meanwhile, is already going to be possible on a vast range of produc...
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Next generation 4k video codec experience - Ultra HD

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Long-term, H.265 will likely succeed H.264’s position as the premier solution for advanced video, though that may depend on whether or not battery consumption while decoding can match H.264’s levels in the long term. That’s something we’ll only be able to evaluate once hardware is available, but for now we’re optimistic. H.265’s explicitly parallel model should map well against multi-core devices of the future.

Encode/decode support, meanwhile, is already going to be possible on a vast range of products. Modern CPUs are more than capable of decoding H.265 in software, OpenCL support is coming in future iterations, and hardware GPU support, while not formally guaranteed by AMD, Intel, or Nvidia for next-generation products, is a mid-term certainty. All three companies have previously leapt to include advanced video pipelines in their products — as the H.265 presentation notes, video is something that’s become ubiquitous across every type of device

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Next generation 4k video codec experience - Ultra HD

  1. 1. Technical Insights - Embedded Next Generation 4K Video Codec Experience – Ultra HD The next-generation High Efficiency Video codec (HEVC), H.265, has hit a major public milestone, the x265 encoder is already impressively parallelized and supports all of the major instruction sets including AVX/AVX2 and FMA3/FMA4. There are lots of discussion about H.265 and next-generation video encoding technologies, but this is the first time we’ve had the chance to sit down with a next-generation encoder (albeit a pre-alpha version) to examine both performance and video quality. We’ve put together a comparison of both video quality and stream encode sizes versus H.264, as well as a quick look at performance across Sandy Bridge-E, Ivy Bridge, and Haswell. The benefits of H.265 H.264 has been a huge success. It’s a flexible codec standard that’s used by streaming services, satellite providers, and for Blu-ray discs. It’s scaled remarkably well since it was first proposed and is capable of FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential Page 1 of 9
  2. 2. Technical Insights - Embedded handling 3D, 48-60 fps encodes, and even 4K. The Blu-ray disc standard doesn’t currently include provisions for some of these technologies, but the H.264 codec itself is capable of handling them. The problem with H.264, however, is that while it can handle these types of encodes, it can’t do so while simultaneously keeping file sizes low. A new standard is necessary to push file/stream sizes back down while driving next-generation adoption, and that’s where H.265 comes in. It’s designed to utilize substantially less bandwidth thanks to advanced encoding techniques and a more sophisticated encode/decode model. Unlike H.264, which can extend to cover 4K television but wasn’t designed with the feature in mind, H.265 was built to match the capabilities of future screens and includes support for 10-bit color and high frame rates. This is early days — support and capability of the current alpha are limited to 8-bit color and YUV output, but we still wanted to take the alpha technology out for a spin. Armed with a freshly compiled version and some test clips, we set out to see what we could build. FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential Page 2 of 9
  3. 3. Technical Insights - Embedded First up — file sizes. What we’re comparing here is actually the size of the elementary video stream. Note that these are video streams only — audio isn’t encoded in either instance. Encode sizes were defined by the quantizer setting, with lower q-values equaling a higher quality (and larger file size). The base encoded file is 500 frames of a 1.5GB, YUV 4:2:0 file at 50 fps. The elementary stream file size is used for comparison here because it represents what’s transmitted to the decoder to create the final output. We’re working with elementary streams because, at this stage of the project (pre-alpha), the decoded video file always comes back at 1.5GB, regardless of the stream quality used to create it. This gives a good basic idea of what sorts of benefits H.265 can offer compared to H.264. While it’s not hitting 50% bandwidth savings in most cases, it’s close — quantizer 24 is 57% the size, q=30 is 59%, and q=40 is just 47%. Granted, at a quantizer of 40, the final output is wretched — but it’s wretched at less than half the bandwidth. FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential Page 3 of 9
  4. 4. Technical Insights - Embedded Performance & image quality The next area we wanted to consider was performance. H.265 is known for taking more horsepower to encode and decode than H.264, though the team developing the standard continues to emphasize the role of parallel computing in speeding the encode/decode process. It’s implied that OpenCL support will materialize sooner, rather than later, which means initiatives like AMD’s HAS could get a boost from x265 support early in 2014. Right now, we’re limited to CPU support, but MultiCoreWare spokesperson Tom Vaughan emphasized that the team has already been working on strong multithreading. We decided to test the alpha decoder using Sandy Bridge-E, Ivy Bridge, and Haswell. We experimented with different levels of parallelization but settled on options that stuck to the number of physical cores in a system (6, 4, and 4). HyperThreading was enabled, but setting for 12/8 - thread parallelization actually increased encode time slightly. HDMI 2.0 (the name going around the industry, despite the HDMI forum's decision to do away with version numbers for all HDMI products) is going to be ratified soon, and will apparently simply double the operating frequency of the controller / PHY to provide enough bandwidth to send across uncompressed 4Kp60 video. The high cost of current 4K solutions is already a deterrent, and if one is hesitating to jump in right now, these facts should serve as an incentive to wait for some more time. Contrary to popular belief, there is really no dearth of 4K content since most professional videographing solutions have been 4K capable for a number of years. It is a simple matter of bringing that content in the right format to the end-consumer. H.264 emerged as the codec of choice (and replaced MPEG-2 due to better compression efficiency) when moving from SD to HD. However, both H.264 and MPEG-2 coexist in the Blu-ray standard for HD content. Similarly, H.265 (HEVC) is expected to become the codec of choice (and replace H.264 due to better compression efficiency) when moving from HD to 4K. However, consumers can expect a lot of the initial 4K end-user content to be in H.264 format (such as the current 4K videos on YouTube or the 4K videos being shot on the GoPro Hero 3 Black). All said, a future-proof 4K solution should have the capability to decode 4K content in both H.264 and H.265 (HEVC) formats. FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential Page 4 of 9
  5. 5. Technical Insights - Embedded The parallelization performance looks good — Sandy Bridge-E, with six cores, is somewhat ahead of Ivy Bridge with four. Similarly, Ivy Bridge is beaten out by Haswell, thanks to the new core’s AVX2 support and better performance characteristics. Compared to x264, even on the –very slow preset, x265 encodes take noticeably longer — our Ivy Bridge 3770K encoded the same file in H.264 in 129 seconds as compared to 247 seconds for H.265. Keep in mind, however, that this is very, very early software. Of more interest is the quality question — how does the H.265 output compare to the uncompressed original? We chose a basketball clip because, at 50 fps, it’s full of the sort of fast motion that often gives encoders fits. H.265’s smaller sizes won’t be worth much if the final output isn’t as good. To that end, here’s the original uncompressed YUV output, the H.265 encode at q=24, and the H.264 output at q=24. Click on each image to enlarge it. FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential Page 5 of 9
  6. 6. Technical Insights - Embedded Original uncompressed H265 Q=24 FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential Page 6 of 9
  7. 7. Technical Insights - Embedded H264 Q=24 The variance here is minimal. The hardwood floor underneath the leaping player is slightly less blurry in the H.264 variant, but the H.265 image quality is phenomenal considering it’s half the size. What about lower qualities? Here’s H.265 and H.264 at q=30; H.265 is first. H.265 Q=30 FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential Page 7 of 9
  8. 8. Technical Insights - Embedded H.264 Q=30 At q=30 (file sizes of 6.39MB and 10.87MB), the H.265 video stream is arguably better than the H.264 encode stream. We’re not trying to claim this is an absolute — as always, encode settings matter a great deal and are sensitive to tweaking. But after waiting more than a year for H.265 to break cover, it’s clear that the new standard is going to offer what its proponents have claimed. FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential Page 8 of 9
  9. 9. Technical Insights - Embedded Encode/decode support, meanwhile, is already going to be possible on a vast range of products. Modern CPUs are more than capable of decoding H.265 in software, OpenCL support is coming in future iterations, and hardware GPU support, while not formally guaranteed by AMD, Intel, or Nvidia for nextgeneration products, is a mid-term certainty. All three companies have previously leapt to include advanced video pipelines in their products — as the H.265 presentation notes, video is something that’s become ubiquitous across every type of device. Long-term, H.265 will likely succeed H.264’s position as the premier solution for advanced video, though that may depend on whether or not battery consumption while decoding can match H.264’s levels in the long term. That’s something we’ll only be able to evaluate once hardware is available, but for now we’re optimistic. H.265’s explicitly parallel model should map well against multi-core devices of the future. Source: Extremetech.com FossilShale Embedded Technologies – Confidential Page 9 of 9

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