December 14, 2018

Intel & AMD CPUs and Nvidia GPUs That Support Native HEVC Decoder

In the recent years, the H.264 is considered to be the best video compression standard. Whenever someone does video streaming, watch TV Shows online, Blu-ray, TV broadcasts, etc., there is a high possibility of streaming up with the H.264 encoding stream at the backend. Behold H.265 which is considered to be the successor of H.264 also known as MPEG-4 Part 10′ or the Advanced Video Coding (MPEG-4 AVC). The H.265 standard is an extension of the earlier H.264  standard where both work by comparing different parts of a structure of video to obtain areas that are repetitive, both inside an individual frame as well as succeeding frames. These repetitive areas are later superseded with a short classification instead of storing the original pixels. The fundamental changes for HEVC combines the augmentation of the pattern identification and differential coding spaces from ‘16×16‘ pixel to sizes up to ‘64×64‘, advanced variable-block-size segmentation, updated “Intra” prediction within the same image, improved motion vector forecasting and motion area joining, revised motion compensation filtering, and a supplementary filtering step called ‘sample-adaptive offset filtering‘. Practical use of these enhancements requires significantly extra signal processing capability for packing the video but has less impact on the volume of calculation needed for decompression.

Now, HEVC compression is applicable for 720p, 1080p, 4k UHD and up to 8K (8192×4320) videos. For your typical 720p or 1080p, HAVC encoded videos, a computer running on a 5-year-old hardware should run it just fine. The scenario changes when you try to run a lot of 4K HEVC video content which can cripple your device if there is no Native HEVC Decoder support.

If you have a lot of 4K HEVC video content to watch, you would need a native HEVC decoder. To bring things into perspective, a 10 GB Blueray 4K content can be compressed to 1 Gigabytes, and the compression algorithm is taxing on the CPU (or GPU).

The H.265 is well known as a more efficient compression standard for many reasons. It provides the user with the highest quality of video by using a variable bit rate at the backend for compression. It is supported on almost all devices, and this provides versatility and ease of operations for the end users to store high-quality videos. Not only this, but it also preserves the high-quality videos like those in uncompressed Blu-Ray discs. Objectively speaking, the data quality loss is less than 10%. Moreover, a great deal of storage space saving is achieved due to its compression capabilities. Refer to the image below:

The H.265 was developed and introduced in the market in 2013 as a successor of H.264. Hence, it is also commonly known as the H.265 compression tool or MPEG-H part 2.

Native HEVC Decoder

HVAC is the more optimized version of H.264 compression standard which usually provides 10x higher compression and does a better job of preserving quality than that of the (MPEG-4 AVC) AVC.  HVAC Codecs may include multi-threaded encoders and decoders. These both are highly optimized and carrying an improved version of its successor. Refer to the table below for a quick subjective comparison.

Video
coding
standard
Average bit rate reduction
compared to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC HP
480p 720p 1080p 2160p
HEVC/H.265 52% 56% 62% 64%

Features

As discussed in the earlier section, HVAC is typically the more optimized version of the H.264 compression which usually provides 10x higher optimized quality than that of the typically used AVC tool.  HVAC Codecs may include the multi-threaded encoders in it along with the multi-threaded HVAC Decoders. Now, you do not need any special hardware to decode the H.265 content. However, hardware encoders ensure smoother payback with less CPU utilization.

On Linux and Mac systems, a VLC player would be a good software solution to bet on. For Windows, there are many options which provide the necessary codec’s to encode an H.265 video.

Video Coding Layer:

The video coding layer of the HEVC Codec may use the same “hybrid” terminology and approach typically being used in all modern video standards, from H.261, as it uses inter-intra-image prediction and also  2D transformation encoding. An HEVC encoder first incorporates the scheme of rating and then divides an image into the section of block regions.

Coding Tools:

HEVC replaces/swaps up the 16 × 16 pixel macroblocks, which were traditionally incorporated/used with previously introduced standards, with coding tree units (CTUs) that can handle more massive block structures of up to 64×64 samples and server with a better understanding and can better under-partition the image in variable size structures. HEVC initially / firstly divides the image into CTUs which may be 64 × 64, 32 × 32, or 16 × 16 with a more substantial block size of pixels typically increasing coding efficiency. 

Advantages of HEVC

The benefits of HEVC over the previously used compression/decoders can be primarily termed as the successive points of the compression tools which are:

  • HEVC has a power of 10x compression ratio than that of H.264; keeping the quality of the video same.
  • The space occupied by the HEVC tool is half than the filled area of H.264 and preserving the same quality which is quite useful than its predecessor.
  • HEVC either provide the same quality with less consumption of space, or an improved quality of the H.264 standard with the similar use of disk space.
  • Redundant blocks within a single frame of a stream are adequately compressed by the HEVC in the pixel range of 64×64 which helps to save space.
  • It has an enhanced variable block size segmentation.
  • It has better motion vector prediction level.
  • It also contains an improved level of deblocking along with motion compression filters.

HEVC Block Diagram

Hardware Support: Intel / AMD Processors

Like we said before, you do not need any specialized hardware to decode HEVC. However, when you compress high-resolution videos, your hardware performance may lag significantly. Below are some Intel / AMD processors that have some support level for native HEVC decoding:

  1. 4th Generation Intel Core processors (Haswell CPU 2- 3.5GHz, 4 Cores): Includes an HEVC Software Decoder capable of the real-time decode of HEVC 4K streams.
  2. 5th Generation Intel Core processors (Broad well): Supports HEVC 8-bit software/hybrid encodes.
  3. 6th Generation Intel Core processors (Skylake) Supports hardware accelerated HEVC 8-bit decode and encode.
  4. AMD’s 6th-generation ‘Carizzo’ APUs onwards
  5. AMD Radeon R9 Fury/Fury X ‘Fiji’ GPUs
  6. Nvidia 900 Series GPUs (GeForce GTX 960 or 950)
  7. Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, 810, 820, 835 for 4K HEVC decoding. Other SoC’s include 615,410, 208 or newer SoCs
  8. Latest MediaTek SOC’s support 10-bit UltraHD video & High Dynamic Range (HDR) and wide color gamut coverage.
  9. Apple A8, A10, A10x support native HEVC decoding. The A11 supports 10-Bit UHD + HDR.
  10. X-Box One, Roku 4, 2nd Gen Amazon Fire TV (& Stick)

Conclusion:

The advantages of HEVC encoding are apparent; playback is limited to PCs, high-end smartphones & tablets. Most of the modern range of media players (Roku, Amazon) and consoles (Xbox One) support HEVC. At this point, adaptability is no more a disadvantage like it was a few years before to encoding your media in native HEVC.

We hope you like our post on Native HEVC Decoder. For comments and suggestions, please use the comment section below.

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