The new High Efficiency Video Codec, or HEVC for short, known as h.265 is poised to be the successor to h.264 and possibly moves us into the UHDTV "revolution." Here's 3 articles to help you wrap your brain around the coming h.265 train, because even if we don't do 4K TV we still need to enhance our compression ability (i.e. lower the data rate required to define a 1080p image) as more and more traffic moves to mobile devices. Users there don't want to blow through their whole data plan just watching 1 Netflix movie over LTE.
Joel Hruska at Extreme Tech writing that the h.265 standard is finalized, and could finally replace MPEG-2 and usher in UHDTV:
The HEVC/H.265 standard, which offers a number of improvements over current H.264 implementations, has now been finalized. It should now be a matter of months until you begin to see devices (smartphones, graphics cards) that support H.265 decode, though whether these implementations will be in hardware, or shoddy, battery-sucking software, remains to be seen.
For now, we’re cautious about making claims for the new standard. We know it does one thing well — reduce bandwidth consumption at a given quality level. That benefit could trickle down to battery life improvements when streaming video, provided the higher power consumption of decoding doesn’t offset the radio’s lower power consumption. It could make 1080p broadcasting and 4K video a reality — but not until Sony and other media giants decide how to package said content.
RedShark's Phil Rhodes has an Everything You Need to Know write up about h.265:
The successor to h.264 is, cunningly, h.265, an ITU standard just a fraction away from being approved at the time of writing that's based on the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) system. As we’ve seen, the complexity and therefore effectiveness of video codecs is largely controlled by the performance of the devices on which they will be replayed. HEVC leverages improvements in the performance of consumer electronics, aiming to achieve the same image quality at half the bitrate of h.264 through the application of more advanced image-encoding techniques, while being no more than three times harder to decode than High-profile h.264. On the face of it, this seems like a questionable deal, with a tripling of requirements while only doubling performance, but with Arm and Intel currently competing quite effectively to create electronics that do more work for less money and less electricity, this seems like a rather ungenerous criticism.
Since the claim is often made that h.265 effectively halves the data rate needed to define an image compared to h.265, Iain Richardson of Vcodex blog asks the logical question: HEVC: Is it Really Twice as Good as h.264:
The new standard for video compression, High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC, is claimed to require "half the bandwidth for high quality video transmission", compared with the older H.264/AVC standard. What does this mean? If the same video clip is encoded with H.264 at a particular bitrate, and with HEVC at half the bitrate, then the quality of the decoded HEVC video should be at least as good as the decoded H.264 video.
David Shapton of RedShark News has a demonstration of h.265 in action (bear in mind that your watching a 1080p recording of a 4K signal compressed by YouTube using h.264, so temper your expectations!):