Feeds

Google open-video codec goes experimental

Branches code tree for formats future

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Google has added an experimental branch to the VP8 code tree, encouraging developers to begin work on the next incarnation of its newly open sourced video codec.

Mountain View open sourced its $124.6 million VP8 codec less than a month ago in an effort to create a royalty free standard for web video, rolling it into a larger media format known as WebM, and WebM has already turned up in developer-build and beta browsers from Mozilla, Opera, and Google itself.

The VP8 bitstream – the format of the video itself – is fixed. As the encoder and decoder are tweaked, the project's main tree will stick to the same bitstream. But on the experimental branch, Google is already looking ahead to future versions of the codec, allowing changes to the bitstream as well. The experimental branch will house work on, say, VP9.

"To maintain codec stability while also allowing for quality and performance improvements in VP8, we have added an experimental branch to the VP8 source tree," reads a blog post from Google codec engineering manager Jim Bankoski.

"The WebM community can use this unstable branch to propose changes to VP8 that will produce the best video codec possible, but without the constraints of a frozen bitstream. At some point in the future, when the experimental branch proves significantly better than the stable branch, we will create a new version of the codec."

Google says that it already has teams of developers investigating and evaluating new techniques and that these teams "are committed to do so for the long term."

Though Mozilla and Opera have put their weight behind WebM, the two other browser vendors have not. Steve Jobs has indicated that Apple will stick with H.264, a royalty encumbered codec licensed by the MPEG LA. And though Microsoft says it will allows netizens to use WebM if they load it on their own systems, IE9 will only includes H.264 as well. Both Apple and Microsoft are part of the MPEG LA patent pool that backs H.264.

The MPEG LA has said its putting together a patent pool for VP8, which would challenge Google's effort to make the codec royalty free. In open sourcing the codec, Mountain View has also granted rights to the various Google-owned patents backing the technology. Google acquired VP8 as part of its $124.6 million purchase of video compression outfit On2 Technologies.

On YouTube, Google is already encoding larger videos with VP8, and various partners are working to provide hardware acceleration for the format. Bankoski says that these partners are committed to providing hardware based sometime next year. So the current bitstream will stay in place for at least a few years.

"Devices that use hardware acceleration for video are a very small percentage of overall web traffic today, but they are a rapidly growing segment of the market and our project must be mindful of these vendors' needs," he writes. "Given the longer lead times for changes in chipsets, hardware companies implementing the codec today need to be confident that it will be stable and supported as VP8 content proliferates." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.