23 Comments

Summary:

Add YouTube to the list of companies showing off 4K streaming at CES. But YouTube’s demos will be using Google’s own VP9 video codec.

LGs 4K TV. Try to get that past your bandwidth cap.
photo: LG

YouTube will be demonstrating 4K video at CES in Las Vegas next week, with a twist: The Google-owned video service will be showing off ultra high-definition streaming based on VP9, a new royalty-free codec that Google has been developing as an alternative to the H.265 video codec that’s at the core of many other 4K implementations.

This isn’t the first time Google has tried to establish an open and royalty-free alternative to a commercial video format. Google’s VP8 video codec, which the company released in 2010, was supposed to become the default format for plugin-free video streaming and real-time communications, but those plans were thwarted by a lack of hardware support and fierce opposition from some companies with vested interest in established commercial video formats.

This time around, Google has lined up a whole list of hardware partners to kickstart VP9 deployment. YouTube will show off 4K streaming at the booths of LG, Panasonic and Sony. And on Thursday, YouTube released a list of 19 hardware partners that have pledged to support VP9, including chipset vendors like ARM, Intel, Broadcom and Marvell as well as consumer electronics heavyweights like Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba.

However, Francisco Varela, global director of platform partnerships at YouTube, didn’t want to frame YouTube’s use of VP9 as an either-or decision in a recent interview. “This certainly isn’t a war of the video codecs,” he said. Varela added that this was just a first announcement around 4K for YouTube, leaving open the possibility that YouTube could add H.265 support as well.

Instead, he emphasized how the use of the codec won’t just help YouTube to deliver higher resolutions at reasonable bitrates, but also reduce the amount of data necessary to stream regular HD videos by about half. This will help YouTube to improve video delivery and do away with buffering, said Varela: “By 2015, you’ll be surprised every time you see that spinning wheel.”

Varela said that he expects VP9 hardware decoding to come to PCs and mobile devices first, and that first TVs supporting the format should ship by 2015. This would not just benefit YouTube, but also other video services that are looking to deliver their streams more efficiently. “This is important for the entire ecosystem,” he said.

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  1. Sadly h265 is garbage at the moment.

    1. That’s quite a strong statement you’ve made there. Would you care to back it up with details why?

      1. That’s a very small detail though.

      2. Do you even google?

    2. where have you seen H265 lately and did you see the H265 that was in the Evertz booth at NAB last year ?

      it was excellent, 2x the quality at 1/2 the bandwidth.

  2. Howard Greenstein Thursday, January 2, 2014

    Will it work with existing Chromecast models? If so, that’s a great Trojan horse into the TV set.

    1. Hardware support won’t be until next year at the earliest.

  3. Google’s codecs suck

    1. Very constructive comment ;-)

  4. is adobe already supporting vp9 ? if not when ?

    1. Well Anybody still care about what adobe support ? For IE8 maybe ?

      1. LOL, you are aware that the Flash Player that you use on YouTube belongs to Adobe, right?

  5. I would like to get more details on how the test was done.
    What was the source video? Sampling rate?
    What were the encoder settings? It was stated H264 which is very broad.
    Which H264 profile was used for the comparison?
    What was the block size?
    Why did you not compare it to H265 as well?
    What are the plans for supporting 4K? Roadmap for 8K?
    Did you compare VP9 to H264 hardware encoders?

  6. Solely Slowlie Friday, January 3, 2014

    Great, as if Google didn’t have a monopoly on enough of the Internet and technology already..

    1. This is a free open source codec. Much better than the alternative patent encumbered paid-for monopoly that exists now.

      Google developed it because they don’t want to be forced to pay a random codec conglomerate to encode videos. VP9 being free for anyone to use (not just google) with free code given away by google to show how to encode vp9, makes this a much much better thing for everyone, not just google.

  7. Youtube is buffering enough with 1080p already, they should fix that before introducing 4k :P

    1. That’s more your ISP than anything else.

      1. No, it’s dash.

    2. Reading is tough.

      “he emphasized how the use of the codec won’t just help YouTube to deliver higher resolutions at reasonable bitrates, but also reduce the amount of data necessary to stream regular HD videos by about half. This will help YouTube to improve video delivery and do away with buffering”

  8. Michael Lovett Friday, January 3, 2014

    Yeah Google! =0)

  9. Google is great!

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