Google Aims at VP10 in 2016

Google has spoken to CNet about the company’s plans for its VP10 codec which is under development.

Google’s existing VP9 codec is an alternative to the more mainstream HEVC. However, it has recently been receiving more attention due to the ongoing patent fee battles (HEVC Advance Offering Essential HEVC Patents in Competition to MPEG LA) surrounding HEVC.

VP9 is about twice as efficient as H.264, the predecessor to HEVC, and still a widely-used codec. Google engineering product manager James Bankoski says that VP10 will offer roughly a similar improvement, again.

Of course, it will be an uphill battle. Despite the growing pains, HEVC is already on its road to becoming an established codec in the industry. Meanwhile, other companies are developing their own alternatives – although they are some way from becoming finalised. Google is even involved in one of them (Leading Companies Collaborate to Avoid Codec Fees), while Cisco is championing the other major effort (Cisco Brings Down the Hammer on Codec Fees).

However, Google is moving swiftly; its engineers began adding the first VP10 changes to the VPx software project this month. Bakoski said, “We’re hoping to hit the performance target by the end of next year”.

Moving to VP10 will increase processing demands on computing devices. Google estimates that it will be about a 40% increase to decode VP10 video, compared to VP9.

‘Ghost Towns’ is an UltraHD video being streamed on YouTube today, using VP9Analyst Comment

CNet provides a useful breakdown of the increase in codec fees that come from HEVC Advance (the rival patent pool to MPEG). Where MPEG charges $0.20 per device, HEVC Advance charges $0.80 for mobile devices, and $1.50 for TVs. A company that sold 10 million smartphones supporting HEVC would have to pay $2 million to MPEG – but $8 million to HEVC Advance. (TA)