The case for H.264 by Mark Harraway as published in International Security Buyers Guide Sept 09.
Q. Is there a ‘horses for courses’ argument in terms of the different algorithms given that they have been tested with varying aims and tailored to distinct applications? Is H.264 really so versatile as you believe?
In a word “Yes”. The official (snappy) titles for H.264 are “ISO 14496-10:2009” or “MPEG4 AVC (Motion Picture Experts Group Phase 4 Advanced Video Coding)” or even – since it is now developed and maintained by the Joint Video Team of the ITU-T and MPEG – “ITU-T H.264”. Within the standard there are a number of different profile requirements on how the codec function should work depending on the nature of usage. This can be from very low-end applications where reduction of bandwidth demand is key (such as video to mobile phones) right through to high-definition ultra high-quality broadcasting. Now, here’s the rub: each of these profiles will affect required processing power and therefore component and build costs. As a result, most manufacturers have only adopted certain profiles in their products with obviously divergent costs and functionality / quality and bandwidth ramifications. It is therefore difficult to be sure that you are comparing apples with apples as everything can still be said to be H.264-compliant but to which profile?