Feeds

Google open-video codec goes experimental

Branches code tree for formats future

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.