Google pressing for fast adoption of royalty-free VP9 video codec

By on May 20, 2013, 4:30 PM

Last week at I/O 2013, Google said it is nearly finished developing the new royalty-free VP9 video codec. The new specification is available now for testing, and will be officially finalized on June 17, reports CNET.

Through VP9, Google promises a fifty percent gain in compression levels over current VP8 and H.264 standards, while maintaining the same video quality. This efficiency translates to massive savings for video streaming services like YouTube, which output huge amounts of data every second.

When compared to VP8 and H.264, VP9 sounds amazing. However, H.264 is nearly a decade old, and its successor, HEVC, or H.265, is complete and offers the same gains in performance. Head-to-head with H.265, Google says that VP9 is approximately one percent more efficient overall, but this varies from one video to the next.

A one percent gain will add up for giants like YouTube, but for most projects, it’s negligible in practice. Not only that, but H.264 is extremely popular, and is the de facto video standard in many cases; it’s not a stretch to think that H.265 could gain the same popularity. The major differentiating factor between the two new competing standards is licensing. VP9 is royalty-free, while H.265 is licensed through the MPEG LA organization.

Whether it's just convenient or was always intentional, Google seems to be looking out for the little guy here, and perhaps gaining a minor amount of credibility back to its mantra, “Don't be evil.” Concerning video projects by schools, startups, or programmers, Matt Frost, senior business product manager for the Chrome Web Media Team said, "We have to make sure they're not writing five or six million dollar checks every year to standards bodies."

The rapid adoption that Google is pushing for is relatively easy in the agile web browser ecosystem, but presents many issues in other arenas. For example, it will take a long time for standard hardware support in mobile chips for phones and tablets that will allow for video decoding without quickly draining battery life.




User Comments: 9

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MrAnderson said:

Sure bring on the VP9. Where are the tools to render to the codec?

JC713 JC713 said:

How does June 24 make any sense. Chrome 26 has been out for like 3 weeks, which means June 24 will be the drop date for Chrome 29 to hit the beta channel, not the final stable release.

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Jesse Jesse said:

How does June 24 make any sense. Chrome 26 has been out for like 3 weeks, which means June 24 will be the drop date for Chrome 29 to hit the beta channel, not the final stable release.

June 24 is Chrome 29 dev channel release, and also the date that VP9 will be finalized, but not the final stable release of Chrome 29.

JC713 JC713 said:

June 24 is Chrome 29 dev channel release, and also the date that VP9 will be finalized, but not the final stable release of Chrome 29.

You sure? I have been using Chrome 28 dev for about 3 weeks now.

umbala said:

How does June 24 make any sense. Chrome 26 has been out for like 3 weeks, which means June 24 will be the drop date for Chrome 29 to hit the beta channel, not the final stable release.

They're not actually releasing anything, but simply removing the beta flag on that date. This can easily be done with a small maintenance release on the existing stable release of Chrome.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

It would be interesting to see how VP9 and HVEC compare in reality. One major concern about HVEC versus H.264 is that the former requires much more CPU power to decode, which inevitably translates into more battery life sucked out by mobile devices. How does VP9 compare in this department?

stbecker said:

Exciting news. I realize there is a difference in new/free vs interoperable/paid, but having competition should spice things up. Hopefully we avoid the VHS/BETA and HD-DVD/BR-D battles in hardware.

I can already run a couple high-res streams across my home internet connection, but this type of progress gives me hope for having 2K or even 4K eventually.

entropyy entropyy said:

June?? why so far lol

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

June?? why so far lol
That was 7 months ago.

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