Advantages of H.264 (AVC) | Disadvantages of H.264 (AVC)

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of H.264 (AVC) Advanced Video Coding.It mentions benefits or advantages of H.264 (AVC) and drawbacks or disadvantages of H.264 (AVC)

Introduction: Video codec is made of two parts viz. coder and decoder. Video encoder converts analog video into compressed digital format so that video files are lesser in size and it is easy to stream video over internet or in real-time or on demand. Video encoding also helps to reduce buffering size requirement to stream video. Both video and audio codec are used to compress raw video and audio files.

What is H.264 ?

The H.264 is a video compression standard. It was introduced by ITU-T video coding experts group and ISO/IEC moving picture experts group in the year 2003. It is also known as MPEG-4 Part 10. This video codec standard is most widely used across smartphones, tablets, computers, streaming media players etc. It uses various techniques such as intra-frame prediction, inter-frame prediction, entropy coding in order to compress video. It offers high level of compression with good video quality. It is widely used in various applications viz. Blu-ray discs, broadcast TV, video streaming etc.

Following are the features of H.264 (AVC).
• Capable to encode high resolution video upto 4K and supports HD (High Definition) video up to 1080p resolution.
• Offers improved error resilience resulting in more consistent and reliable video playback experience.
• Enhanced motion estimation with various block sizes, supports various prediction block sizes (4x4, 8x8, 16x16) and 9 modes for intra prediction
• Supports 59.94 fps
• Supports CABAC and CAVLC entropy coding
• Uses hybrid compression model
• Different profiles are supported viz. baseline, main and extended
• Supports advanced intra-coding, multiple reference picture, integer block transform, improved de-blocking filter etc.

H264 video encoder decoder

The figure depicts H.264 video encoder modules and video decoder modules.

Benefits or advantages of H.264 (AVC)

Following are the benefits or advantages of H.264 (AVC):
➨It produces high quality at low data rates compare to previous standards.
➨It compresses video files to half of its size compare to its predecessor MPEG-2 and maintains same quality as offered by MPEG-2. Hence it requires less storage to store video compare to other standards. This allows easy video transmission through IP.
➨Enables fast and efficient video encoding and video decoding with the help of multi-core CPUs. It is two times more efficient than MPEG-2 codec.
➨Offers low latency video encoding/decoding which results into fast response times and less delays in real time applications.
➨It provides high quality images with minimal usage of the bandwidth.
➨It is extremely efficient for slow motion video content.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of H.264 (AVC)

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of H.264 (AVC):
➨It is expensive to implement compare to other video codecs due to patent licensing fees.
➨It is very complex video codec and requires number of parameters to be configured for specific applications.
➨It requires significant processing power for encoding/decoding which is challenge for limited processing devices.
➨It does not provide native support for higher resolution video greater than 4K. Moreover it does not provide native support for HDR (High Dynamic Range) video.
➨Error resiliency feature takes care of bit errors but results into lower compression rates.

• Also refer advantages and disadvantages of H.265 video codec >>.

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