Alliance for Open Media launches open-source video project for 4K, other codecs

The Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), an organization created to develop open-source codecs that are royalty-free as an alternative to HEVC, has launched a new video project to promote active development of an open-source video codec.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Cisco, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Intel and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) are among the major supporters of AOMedia, and the organization said that three more vendors have joined: IP provider ARM and semiconductor companies AMD and NVIDIA.

The new AOMedia Video Project contains in its repository a baseline for the new video codec that the organization plans to develop.

"The open source availability of our AOMedia Video project with active contributions from industry leaders marks the beginning of a new era of openness and interoperability for Internet video," said Gabe Frost, executive director of AOMedia, in a prepared statement.

AOMedia was created partly in response to HEVC (high efficiency video coding) patent fees that many in the industry felt were onerous. HEVC, also known as H.265, is an encoding standard for 4K video. Patent pools including HEVC Advanced and MPEG-LA have risen to collect fees for use of the technology by OTT providers.

Other 4K encoding technologies include Thor, an open-source codec developed by Cisco and VP9, a codec developed by Google. (A successor, VP10, is also in the works.)

In the face of industry backlash over its proposed fees, HEVC Advanced walked back its prices in December and capped liability for royalties at $40 million, bringing its fees more in line with established rates for older technologies like H.264.

With online media optimization becoming a priority in the face of growing demand for higher-quality video to match the promise of those snazzy new 4K TVs many consumers have purchased, AOMedia's Video Project is landing at the right time. Bringing aboard manufacturers helps to ensure open-source encoding tech is available from one end of the online video delivery chain to the other -- the user's device.

"We are working to ensure that the new codec can and will be implemented in hardware once the software specification is finalized," said Mark Dickinson, general manager, media processing group, ARM, in a statement. "ARM's focus on mobile multimedia will enable hardware implementations of the AOM Video codec to quickly become available to all OEMs operating in the mobile market."

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