Efficient video compression is a key technology component that enables high quality media services across different platforms and connection types. Several different video codecs have been used since the start of the TV digitalisation and more efficient compression methods are constantly being developed.
For mobile video streaming services, it is important use the network resources as efficiently as possible, but compression efficiency is not the only factor that determines which video codec is best suited to be used. There needs to be a clear and reasonable licensing scheme, the encoding complexity needs to be at a manageable level, but most importantly, the receivers must be able to support decoding of the codec.
The XVC codec is a software-defined video compression format which delivers unprecedented compression performance, is available with a single reasonable license and with a light-weight decoding process that can be run in software on today’s mobile phones and tablets.
Video streaming applications are growing in volume and popularity and an increasing amount of video services are consumed over mobile networks. High performing video codecs are vital in order to utilise network capacity as efficiently as possible and to deliver the best possible quality across various connection types.
Due to high and uncertain licensing costs, the HEVC codec 1 has been unable to serve this market and is so far not deployed in many mobile streaming applications. Some are looking to completely royaltyfree alternatives such as AV1 2 to fill this gap, but the licensing situation around AV1 is unclear and due to technical compromises it is also unclear if AV1 will be able to match the compression performance of HEVC at reasonable computational complexity levels.
A different approach, which was first introduced during IBC2017, and which is gaining more and more interest in the media streaming industry is the XVC codec. The XVC codec is software-defined and has been designed to enable efficient software encoders and decoders. The publicly available XVC reference software includes an XVC decoder, capable of realtime decoding of FullHD video on smartphones and tablets.
The software focused approach makes it possible to deploy enhancements and novel compression tools on devices already in the market today, without having to wait for years until new decoding hardware is available and then wait for more years until the consumer base has swapped out their legacy devices.
This paper presents background information on the state of video codec licensing and lays out a description of the XVC licensing framework, constructed to significantly improve the current video codec licensing situation.
The paper provides technical details on of how the XVC codec is constructed to enable an efficient, flexible and extendable software compression system. By the end of this paper, results are provided, reporting on the bitrate savings offered by XVC relative to HEVC and AV1.