Google's VP9 Gets Hardware Support, Poised to Be the Dominant 4K Streaming Codec
2014K Continues! When we last posted about the VP9 codec it was just beginning to threaten H.265 for dominance, but recent hardware partnerships with nVidia, ARM, Sony and many other tech giants solidifies VP9 as the next go-to HD and 4K streaming codec. Google's previous VP8 codec failed to win out over H.264, which was already massively adopted by the time VP8 showed up. However, with this announcement Google looks poised to win this round of the knock-down drag out codec war. Will VP9 succeed where VP8 failed? Hit the jump to learn more.
Google boasts a 50% increase in bandwidth efficiency with VP9 over its predecessor, the VP8. Almost all major hardware vendors will begin to support VP9 natively within their products this year, as well as enable YouTube to stream up to 4k to computers and devices. The list of new hardware partners is exhaustive and includes:
TechCrunch reports that it was easy to sign partners up for VP9, as it is unencumbered by complicated licensing issues:
Google is also making the codec available for free, while hardware and software vendors who want to use the H.264 standard have to pay a licensing fee to MPEG LA (which then distributes it to the various patent holders).
For an extremely in-depth article, and an explanation of the video below, check out this post by Levan Chelidze.
The video was converted into different formats and bit rates, and you can see some of the results here, with all of them looking pretty similar as bit rates get higher (first is roughly 300Kbps for each and second is roughly 1000Kbps for each -- click for larger):
Tsahi Levent-Levi from BlogGeek spells it out Google's intentions in layman's terms:
Google is designing VP9 to be comparable in quality with H.265, sans royalty costs on patent licensing.
So why does this all matter? One of the largest drawbacks with 4K is the difficulty to move it over the internet, so if Google's efficiency claims are correct, this will go a long way in aiding that. And it's free. It then puts Google into a powerful position going forward as 4K becomes adopted across more technologies over the next year. A demo at CES will aim to promote its adoption as a standard, despite technically being 7% behind its competitor H.265.
VP9 will be rolling out slowly over the next year, first to computers and then to TVs. For the codec-minded, please join the discussion below.