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Netflix says new compression format will improve picture for HD viewers too

Netflix has attributed some of its impressive growth to its successful and critically acclaimed original show House of Cards. Netflix will now use the second season of the show as a vehicle for its efforts to provide customers with 4k resolution content.
Netflix says that the 4K programming will be offered through smart TV apps on next generation 4k TVs. Netflix's Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt said in an interview with Stuff, "We're not naming specific manufacturers, but we have several of the major TV vendors who are going to be producing 4K capable TVs – they'll be announcing them at CES."
As for the possibility of 4K streaming content coming to next generation consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, don’t hold your breath.
Hunt added, "The new game consoles may eventually be 4K-capable. But the ability to take 4K out of the box and drop it into a separate television is lacking some standards and HDMI 2.0, and it's just a little premature. So we probably will see that, but right now we're talking about 4K Netflix built into the smart TV."

While some of us have a hard time streaming full HD resolution broadcasts thanks to slow broadband speeds around much of the U.S., Netflix is leaning on technology to allow owners of 4K TVs to stream the higher resolution format.
"We're pushing forward with new encoding technology – we'll be using H.265, which is colloquially known as HEVC, instead of AVC H.264," Hunt explains. "We think with that we're going to be delivering in the 10-16Mbps range – about 15Mbps is probably what we should think of."
The new compression format will allow a higher resolution picture without needing a major step up in bitrate. Hunt promises that people that don’t have 4K TVs will also see a benefit, noting, “We're pioneering HEVC, which is about twice as efficient as AVC. And so, when we start to see those HEVC decoders get real, and the encoders get more efficient, we're going to be able to recode all the HD content – and the standard-def content, for that matter – in HEVC. So people with a 2 Mbps DSL will be able to receive a better picture than they do today."

Sources: Stuff, Stuff

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RE: Hurry Up Already
By inighthawki on 12/19/2013 2:02:34 PM , Rating: 2
Im not sure the X-Box One or PS4 have enough power to do H.265 especially at 4k maybe 1080p. Video decoding is just one of those things that should be done through hardware to keep high CPU/GPU down and thus less heat and reduced fan noise with little to no possibility of stuttering.

I'd be utterly shocked if they couldn't, especially the PS4. I'm pretty sure even low end intel integrated can do 4K now, possibly even high end ARM devices.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By Guspaz on 12/19/2013 2:23:05 PM , Rating: 2
4K isn't the problem, there's near-zero hardware decoding support for HEVC. Heck, there's barely any software support for decoding it either. Pretty much anything claiming 4K hardware decode today is talking about 4K h.264.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By Mitch101 on 12/19/2013 4:26:39 PM , Rating: 1
Im with you the XBox One and PS4 Might be able to do 4k Video using H.264 but neither has enough CPU to do 4k Video in H.265 since h.265 is not baked into the GPU/CPU. The only software decoder I know of specifies an i7 and well neither console is near that. What this means if its a streamed source you will need a higher speed internet connection for 4k video and if its a file the file will be a good 50% larger.

What Might be possible is a software h.265 decoder that can do 1080P on the XBONE/PS4. The benefit there is netflix can stream a 1080P video that uses nearly half the internet bandwidth it takes to stream current 1080p so if you have a slower internet connection that handle h.264 in 1080p you might be able to do 1080p using h.265 and software decoder.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By CZroe on 12/20/2013 2:32:54 AM , Rating: 3
It wasn't publicized, but the earliest Sony Blu-Ray players essentially had Pentium 4 CPUs inside for software decode even though PCs with the latest Pentium 4 couldn't dream of doing it in software (too many resources shared with the rest of the legacy OS and applications).

Let's not forget that the GPUs can also be employed in the software decoding.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By therealnickdanger on 12/20/2013 8:20:47 AM , Rating: 3
Baytrail Atom can do 1080p H.265 in software at 35% load. You guys are overhyping the hardware requirements. Atom probably can't do 4K H.265 (I can't find evidence that it can or can't), but I'll bet an i3-i7 can... probably even a Core 2 Quad.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By bug77 on 12/20/2013 8:41:34 AM , Rating: 2
You're right, but I have a feeling h265 won't take off until appliances can decode it and appliances don't have Core2/Quad inside. Not that it matters much, it will catch on when it will catch on. And it won't improve either Casablanca or Star Wars ep. 1-3.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By Reclaimer77 on 12/20/2013 9:46:18 AM , Rating: 2
Baytrail Atom can do 1080p H.265 in software at 35% load. You guys are overhyping the hardware requirements.

That's what I was thinking. But I didn't want to open my mouth and be wrong and reap the DT whirlwind lol.

But don't these consoles just software decode via the GPU anyway? I thought specialized decoding hardware was mostly used in under-powered mobile devices.

I don't see why the PS4 couldn't decode H.265 with a simple software patch. I've seen a pure-software decoder smoothly playing HEVC 1080p@30fps on a smartphone! Surely these consoles could handle it at 4k.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By Mitch101 on 12/20/2013 10:45:26 AM , Rating: 2
Nice find didn't know that. Makes we wonder if chips like the 4771 and AMD chips coming in Q1 2014 will have it.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By jihadjoe on 12/20/2013 5:51:52 PM , Rating: 1
DivX released some HEVC decoding performance figures last month.

4-core, 8-thread i7 @ 3.5GHz does 101.5FPS at 1080P, but that drops down drastically to 29.6FPS at 4k

Based on their results i3 to i5 probably can't decode 4k H265.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By yottabit on 12/21/2013 2:54:04 PM , Rating: 1
Sounds about right. Have to LOL @ 4k being soft decoded on an Atom.

I remember watching a 4k video on YouTube a while back and it pegged all 8 threads of a first gen i7 (ran fairly smoothly though)

It all depends on bitrate... my old C2D laptop can soft-decode 1080p low bitrate fine, but if I through it a 24 Mbps video it chugs. High bitrate 4k is going to be a challenge to decode with software.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By soccerballtux on 12/21/2013 4:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
PS3 would probably be able to do it no problem.
The Cell processor (remember, "Broadband Engine"?) was, IMHO, designed to be put into all the Blu Ray players and Sony TV's, not just the PS3s. Why? For the high definition high bandwidth media decoding.

RE: Hurry Up Already
By soccerballtux on 12/21/2013 4:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
*those SPE's are simply fantastic for performing straight math on vectors, such as what you would do on an Mpeg4 stream...

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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