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H.264 also known as MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC (Advanced Video Coding) - is a video encoding standard designed for high efficient video streams compression. The first version of the standard was published in May 2003. H.264 was developed by ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and ISO / IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). Some video encoding programs also identify this standard as “AVC1”

H.264 standard contains several video encoding tools for more efficient compression against previous standards:

  • Motion compensation for dynamic block sizes from 16x16 to 4x4.
  • Out of picture motion vectors
  • Qpel interpolation
  • Intra prediction modes for intra frames (before only DC coefficient was allowed)
  • PAFF and MBAFF modes for combining interlace and progressive encoding
  • Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) algorithms for blocks 4x4 and 8x8
  • Deblocking algorithm, sometimes also called “loop filter”
  • New entropy coding algorithms
    CABAC - Context-adaptive binary arithmetic coding
    CAVLC - Context-adaptive variable-length coding
  • Network Abstraction Level (NAL units)
  • Multiframe inter prediction
  • Weighted prediction including bidirectional

and many others…

H.264 standard consumed more than a hundred patents held by organizations such as MPEG LA, Microsoft, Fujitsu, Philips, Apple, Samsung, Cisco, Toshiba, Panasonic.