SVC Demystified: Series Conclusion: SVC Ready

by Casey King, CTO, LifeSize

First I want to thank Stefan Slivinski for writing the SVC Demystified blog series. If you haven’t read it, take a look there first. Hopefully you have a slightly better understanding of how this video technology really works and the environments where it excels.

To jump straight to the big unveil: LifeSize endpoints are SVC ready. We will deliver a SVC implementation that runs on our current 220 series codec line this calendar year. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Why do we add a new video codec to the mix? We have consistently said there are three reasons. A compelling improvement to any of them means we are interested.

1.  Efficiency. Compression science plods along at a regular pace that drops a significant improvement every 10 years or so. As an example, H.264 was ratified in 2003 and improved coding efficiency by a factor of 2x over previous standards. SVC does not offer this improvement, so we aren’t interested in SVC for this reason.

2.  Error Resiliency. SVC does offer some error resiliency benefits, but even SVC needs to employ some technique to protect the base layer. We are pretty happy with our implementation of stream protection that we added in software release 4.6 So again, we aren’t interested in SVC for this reason.

3.  Interoperability. We are always interested in adding video (or audio) codecs to extend the universe of people that we can connect to. In 2009, we even added support for H.261, which is an archaic, primitive, long-passed-its-prime video codec that was originally ratified in 1988. The net is: there will be SVC clients that we want to talk to and that will drive our inclusion of SVC.

In addition, the biggest advantage for SVC is in the deployment economics of bridging. It can work better and be less expensive and we’re all about that. Now that we are firmly in the bridging space with LifeSize Bridge 2200, there is the opportunity to build some genuinely interesting products that “bridge” both worlds. And they are different worlds.

So stay tuned. There will be more to come as the year unfolds.

One more teaser: I said that compression science moves slowly, but every 10 years or so there is sufficient advancement to get pretty excited about. True to form, the standards bodies are putting the finishing touches on a new video codec, which is imaginatively named HEVC/H.265. The promise is 2x efficiency gains over H.264 and yes, we are definitely interested in this one.

We are lucky to be working in such a fascinating space!

For more information about SVC, read our whitepaper “SVC Uncovered“.

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