Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Comparison Between VP8 and H.264 (3): VP8 vs x264

Some interesting results of encoding 720p videos with VP8 and x264 were shown using different settings and bitrate and qpsnr to compute the PSNR and SSIM of the videos themselves. The conclusions are as follows.

"What can I say?
Well, given that in many occasions PSNR and SSIM aren't far away between x264 and VP8, VP8 is a fair competitor for x264.
Indeed, currently (Jun 2010) the badly implemented VP8 encoder (--best option in ivfenc) offers same quality as x264 normal. Which is pretty good considering the fact that there's room for improvement.
Would I use VP8 now to save my HD videos? Not really, because ffmpeg 0.6 is extremely slow (6+ FPS on my 4 cores AMD x4 965 B.E.), and doesn't use all of my 4 cores, while Handbrake is faster ( 60+ FPS) and uses 4 corse 100% each. And even if ivfenc is faster than ffmpeg there is still the question about playing videos on other devices which at the moment don't support VP8.
So, from my viewpoint, VP8 is not usable in production right now, but once it'll be better implemented (and maybe the encoder will manage to better save background details) VP8, given the patent free nature of this format, could become the real standard.

  • Compression speed: in this case the real winner is x264; VP8 code needs much more improvement to be comptetitive (at least using ffmpeg, ivfenc needs improvements as well).
  • Patents and royalties: well clearly VP8 is the winner here, without chance for x264 to ever come near. Unless MPEG L.A. decides to make it become a royalty free standard (which I definitely doubt as seen as they make money out of patents).
  • Quality: they are sort of tied now, x264 is slightly better in more static scenes while VP8 is better for highly dynamic ones. But when proper encoders will be available for VP8 probably we'll see it fill (at least some) the gap in less dynamic scenes.
  • Hardware accelleration: this was one of the major publicity stun that was lacking for other video formats than x264 (h.264 to be specific). But now a lot of companies have announced hardware support for VP8.

Final words
At the moment x264 is having the edge because is a very good encoder, stable since some years and really implements the h.264 standard inside out. In a nice way indeed.
VP8 is like rough gold, it needs to be primed, in the code and perhaps some details algorithm search as well.
But give VP8 some time, I feel that this one could be a real liberation (and evolution if I may say) from a heavily patented codec.

If you want to have a word, please contact me at ema at (remove the _ otherwise email address won't work)."

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