Google developing VP10 encoding, promising to cut online video size by half again

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is trying to speed ahead in the encoding race against other high-quality video compression technologies like HEVC/H.265, telling CNET that its engineers are already beginning work on the successor to its current open-source encoding standard, VP9.

"We're hoping to hit the performance target by the end of next year," James Bankoski, engineering product manager for Google, told CNET. Google engineers are adding changes to the company's VPx software project.

VP9, and its planned successor VP10, is an open-source technology that, like its competitors, compresses online video so that it takes up less capacity on IP networks, making delivery easier and more reliable. The technology is free to use -- an advantage that's getting a lot more attention as a more widely used encoding standard, HEVC, runs into patent fee issues.

VP10, like HEVC, will provide additional compression for IP-based videos, something that is becoming all-important as 4K content availability over the top gradually increases. Other image quality features like HDR (high dynamic range) and wider color range translate to higher file sizes for streamed video as well.

However, despite promises that VP10 will cut video size by half again as much as current standard VP9 does, Google's encoding technology has a lot of catch-up work to do if it wants to catch HEVC, patent problems or no. HEVC "still has major momentum," CNET said, with support in place for broadcast cameras, smartphones, and Blu-ray, among other technology areas.

Google acquired the VPx technology in 2010 when it purchased On2 Technologies for $123 million, and the compression standard is used for YouTube videos.

In related news, the search engine giant has joined with other tech companies including Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Intel and Cisco in forming the Alliance for Open Media. The new group's stated goal is to make sure that compression technology keeps pace with online video innovation. But it's going up against fierce competition in the standards game, including MPEG (the Moving Picture Experts Group) and patent pools MPEG LA and the HEVC Alliance.

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