Video Surveillance Encoding H.264 vs H.265 codecs

Conceived to boost video streaming, High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), or H.265, is a video compression standard designed to substantially improve coding efficiency when compared to its precedent, the Advanced Video Coding (AVC), or H.264.  High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2, is a video compression standard, one of several potential successors to the widely used AVC (H.264 or MPEG-4 Part 10). In comparison to AVC, HEVC offers about double the data compression ratio at the same level of video quality, or substantially improved video quality at the same bit rate. It supports resolutions up to 8192×4320, including 8K UHD.

With the rapid development of IP video surveillance technology, the current H.264 (MPEG-4/AVC) standard no longer meets the requirement of video encoding for higher image resolution. Going forward, 4K UHD and 8K UHD video equipment will inevitably become the standard just as Full HD is today. As the next generation video compression standard, H.265 comes into market, H.265 or High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) has been gradually adopted in high-definition IP surveillance products such as HD IP cameras, NVR. (Note that your IP Camera and your VMS must support h.265 compression or something like it in order to take advantage of these benefits) Both of our certified partners Axis Communications and Milestone Systems support HEVC.

HEVC promises a 50% storage reduction as its algorithm uses efficient coding by encoding video at the lowest possible bit rate while maintaining a high image quality level. Even though HEVC is already finalized, it is still not popular. Apart from the fact that the codec is patented by various parties and it is associated with high licensing fees, HEVC/H.265 comes with the trade-off requiring almost 10x more computing power.

The difference between H.264 and H.265 is primarily one of streaming bandwidth and storage requirements There is great interest in H.265 recording, because the new video coding standard brings huge bandwidth savings of approximate 40-50% over H.264 encoded content with similar quality. In a nutshell, the H.265 has the ability to offer higher quality video for bandwidth constrained network connection. This means when using H.265 IP cameras, user will experience high video quality with smooth playing, low video latency and lower storage requirements. Take into consideration any industry or government regulations about image quality and detail when choosing a compression format.

HVEC H.265 vs H.264 — a technical comparison

Both codecs work by comparing different parts of a video frame in order to find the ones that are redundant within the subsequent frames. These areas are replaced with a short information, describing the original pixels. What differs HEVC/H.265 from H.264 is the ability to expand the size of these areas into bigger or smaller blocks, called coding tree units (CTU) in the HEVC/H.265. The pattern CTU sizes can be from 4×4 to 64×64, whilst H.264 only allows a maximum block-size of 16×16 (CTU is particular feature of HEVC). An improved CTU segmentation, as well as a better motion compensation and spatial prediction require much more signal processing capability for video compression, but has a significantly less impact on the amount of computation needed for decompression. Motion compensated prediction, another great progress in HEVC/H.265, references blocks of pixels to another area in the same frame (intra prediction) or in another frame (inter prediction).

As mentioned above, CTU are one of the HEVC’s main coding tools. Apart from this, the codec relies on paralleling processing computing techniques to make it even faster and supports advanced extensions as AVX/AVX2 and FMA3/FMA4. The individual rectangular regions that divide the image are independent and enable parallel processing. Besides, HEVC also has another feature that H.264 doesn’t possess: Wavefront Parallel Processing (WPP), a sort of decision tree that grants a more productive and effectual compression.

Overall HVEC H.265 compression is clearly going to be the dominant codec in the coming years. So you will be able to recorder ever higher resolution video surveillance and higher frame rates and store that video for longer retention times, all at lower total system costs. Although as the old adage goes “The data always expands to fit the available storage.” So plan on doubling your storage capacity over time and maybe even your camera counts. The more you get the more you want.


If you want to get a guaranteed accurate calculation of the savings of using h.265 vs H.264 compression take advantage of our free bandwidth and storage calculator


Video surveillance infographic chart