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The x265 Project and MultiCoreWare’s H.265 Encoder

HEVC-Logo-348x196High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) is the next generation codec. It’s designed to handle higher quality video at lower bitrates and file sizes than is possible with H.264. MultiCoreWare Inc. launched a joint project called x265 offering a commercial open source encoder for the H.265 standard.

The goal of x265 is to offer lower bitrates and higher quality, but also to provide “Highest encoding and decoding speed for any hardware configuration” when compared to other HEVC encoders. This factor is important because software encoding is very CPU intensive – it uses a lot of power and processing on the computers when it’s working. Decreasing the time it takes to encode, and reducing the overall load on the computer system, helps maintain stability (less crashing of the computer or device). Also the faster the encoding the better the end experience, especially with live streaming because the latency is reduced. MultiCoreWare is using parallelised computing to reduce the computation speed of its x265 encoder.

The x265 project released the first version of code in mid-July 2013. performed a benchmark on the new encoder and found some interesting results.

  • 25%-35% lower bitrates for equivalent quality than H.264
  • Significantly lower file sizes than H.264 (40-50% smaller)
  • Encoding time took much longer than H.264 (247 versus 129 seconds on one example)
  • Encoding is 5-10 times more compute intensive than H.264

In their article, “H.265 benchmarked: Does the next-generation video codec live up to expectations?” stresses that the code they examined is still very early and performance is expected to improve over time.

Even still, if you look at their article they’ve posted screen shots of a video using both H.265 and H.264, you can see the results of even this early version of code are impressive. The quality of the H.265 is equivalent to, arguably better than, the H.264.

The promise of H.265 was it would reduce bit rates and file sizes while still offering the highest quality video. It looks like it does just that.

Oliver Burt

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