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MPEG Founder Says the MPEG Business Model Is Broken (chiariglione.org) 159

theweatherelectric writes: Leonardo Chiariglione, the founder and chairman of MPEG, argues on his blog that the current MPEG business model is broken. He writes, "Thanks to [MPEG's] 'business model' that can be simply described as: produce standards having the best performance as a goal, irrespective of the IPR involved. Because MPEG standards are the best in the market and have an international standard status, manufacturers/service providers get a global market of digital media products, services and applications, and end users can seamless communicate with billions of people and access millions of services. Patent holders who allow use of their patents get hefty royalties with which they can develop new technologies for the next generation of MPEG standards. A virtuous cycle everybody benefits from." But, he argues, the MPEG model is now in crisis because the forthcoming AV1 video format from the Alliance for Open Media means that "everybody realizes that the old MPEG business model is broke, all the investments (collectively hundreds of millions USD) made by the industry for the new video codec [HEVC] will go up in smoke and AOM's royalty free model will spread to other business segments as well." Chiariglione goes on to explain what can be done: "The first action is to introduce what I call 'fractional options.' ISO envisages two forms of licensing: Option 1, i.e. royalty free and Option 2, i.e. FRAND, which is taken to mean 'with undetermined license.' We could introduce fractional options in the sense that a proposer could indicate that the technology be assigned to a specifically identified profile with an 'industry license' (defined outside MPEG) that does not contain monetary values. For instance, one such license could be 'no charge' (i.e. Option 1), another could be targeted to the OTT market etc."

"The second action, not meant to be alternative to the first, is to streamline the MPEG standard development process. Within this a first goal is to develop coding tools with 'clear ownership,' unlike today's tools which are often the result of contributions with possibly very different weights. A second goal is not to define profiles in MPEG. A third goal could be to embed in the standard the capability to switch coding tools on and off."
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MPEG Founder Says the MPEG Business Model Is Broken

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  • Better Idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by galvanash ( 631838 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @03:04AM (#56031419)

    ...let it die.

    • Re:Better Idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jonsmirl ( 114798 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @08:47AM (#56032201) Homepage

      Here lies there conceptual problem: "My concerns are at a different level and have to do with the way industry at large will be able to access innovation. AOM will certainly give much needed stability to the video codec market but this will come at the cost of reduced if not entirely halted technical progress. There will simply be no incentive for a company to develop new video compression technologies knowing that it assets will be thankfully – and nothing more – accepted by AOM for use in its video codec."

      He simply doesn't get network effects. It is not 'thanks' that you get by putting the technology into a free pool, when everyone does this it creates a broad and compatible market for everyone to sell into. The only group that does not benefit from this are the NPEs since they don't sell anything.

      Look at all of the technology going into Linux and tell me the only thing people are getting out of Linux is 'thanks'. Royalties are not the only way to make money (unless you are a NPE).

      • Re:Better Idea... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @11:52AM (#56033185) Homepage Journal

        Research into codecs will not stop because nobody is paying for codecs. For example, our research into the digital voice codec "Codec2" has progressed to the point that our fully Open Source codec can encode clear voice into a 700 bit per second bitstream. It is an improvement over previously available commercial codecs, and our software modems, when used with SDR radios, yield about a 10 dB improvement over the modulation all vendors were previously using for digital voice two-way radios.

        The problem with MPEG is that many entities, from individual researchers to large, deep-pockets companies, were willing to put in effort to make software just as good or better, but under Open Source terms. MPEG made itself the poster boy for its own elimination, as has every other entity that has attempted to push a royalty-based technology as a web standard. Many people want an open web, and are willing to pay for the research without then monetizing it.

        • Re:Better Idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @12:54PM (#56033633) Journal

          The revolt against GIF that culminated in PNG over 20 years ago showed that royalty free and patent unencumbered works. I recently learned of Free Lossless Image Format (FLIF) [flif.info], currently in development and intended to replace PNG, and it looks great. Handily beats WEBP, and also addresses animations, the reason GIF didn't completely die. FLIF alone shows that PNG was not a one time freak. But there's also Xiph, which has been working on audio and video codecs for decades, giving us Ogg Vorbis and fairly recently, Opus. And soon we will have AV1.

          Opus supposedly bridges the gap in audio between music and voice, better at both than even the best codecs tuned specifically for one or the other. Opus is good at voice, but from my own experiences, no, it's not the very best. Shouldn't VoIP software use Opus, if it was the best? I'd love to abandon Skype. This is the first I've heard of Codec2 [rowetel.com], thanks for mentioning it.

          The area most in need of an update is lossy stills, where JPEG is still supreme. (Why didn't JPEG 2000 catch on?) I saw a comparison on stills between AV1 and JPEG [xiph.org], and in my opinion, JPEG is clearly superior. I hope AV1 improves there, but I wonder if we could have a "double" JPEG, bump the 8x8 blocks up to 16x16, just as a stopgap?

          Yet despite all this evidence, IP rights holders still refuse to concede that unencumbered works. What is accomplished by moaning the clearly wrong idea that codecs will not be developed? They really think they can persuade some deep pocketed organizations to swallow that propaganda and join with them? I don't follow that notion of "fractional options", and I don't see why anyone else should either, especially with AV1 in the wings. Meantime, for video I'm sticking with VP9 and Opus (and webVTT) inside WEBM.

          • Re:Better Idea... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @01:05PM (#56033751) Homepage Journal

            There is really a relatively small group of researchers working on all of these codecs. For example, Jean-Marc Valin is a big contributor to Opus, also contributed to Codec2. A lot of them are radio hams too, and I run into them at conferences devoted to SDR.

          • I saw a comparison on stills between AV1 and JPEG [xiph.org], and in my opinion, JPEG is clearly superior.

            Huh... Are you sure you're using it right? The jpeg for the first image shown, 'Crepuscular Rays', looks awful to me. Anything with sky in it looks awful. Like 'Air Force Academy Chapel'.

            AV1's failure mode is blur, JPEG's is blocky. I'll always take the blurry image over those blocks. The chapel image is full of JPEG's mosquitoes too.

            Look at 'Nestor' (the parrot). That's the blockiest parrot with distorted colours I've seen.

            I'd be hard pressed to find a single image in that comparison that looks decent as J

            • AV1's failure mode is blur

              And textures. I've noticed this problem with wavelet based lossy image compression.

              Texture is why JPEG wins. On Cecret Lake, the clouds, vegetation, and gravelly slopes look better in JPEG. JPEG is very blocky at the high compression rate they must be using, and you can see this up close, but the textures are better preserved. AV1 just smears everything. Twigs are gone, fine filaments in high altitude clouds are gone, gravelly slopes look vague. Step back from the monitor to where you can't see JPEG

              • Very well. I see your point now, and I can see the extra detail in JPEG, but the artefacts (and sometimes, discolouration) disturb me so much that I honestly cannot judge it to be the better format.

                (By 'blur' I did indeed mean a lack of detail. It was a poor word choice.)

                Needless to say, the samples are all compressed heavily enough to make the comparison artificial -- no real world user, I hope, would use that high a compression -- and I would be interested in a comparison that uses a file size 2-4 times l

          • by theCoder ( 23772 )

            Why didn't JPEG 2000 catch on?

            JPEG 2000 is a complicated and slow (compared to JPEG) codec. I only work with it in software, but I'd imagine that it's easier (and thus cheaper) to design and implement JPEG encoders in hardware than JPEG 2000. So if the various cameras out there "settle" for JPEG, then that is what people will tend to use.

            There's also browser support -- I don't think any modern browsers support JPEG 2000 images natively. That hurts.

            JPEG 2000 has several "parts" in the spec, and only part

    • It can go recursively patent litigate itself to death. Please.
    • Business models which have successfully channeled hundreds of millions of dollars in the past will do whatever they can to postpone the inevitable, extend the ROI.

      Giving up early would be disrespecting their investors.

  • 1) Produce standards having the best performance as a goal, irrespective of the IPR involved
    2) ?????
    3) Profit!

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @03:09AM (#56031433) Journal

    OK, I think I'm done here for the night. I read that summary four times and I still don't know what it's about except something to do with video.

    • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @06:03AM (#56031787) Homepage

      The MPEG model until now :
      - create a standard (e.g.: MPEG 1 Video, MPEG Audio Layer I).
      - concentrate on making the best compression, irrespective of patent situation
      - because good compression and official standard, MPEG gets extremely popular and implemented everywhere.
      - all the MPEG creators who hold patents band together, form a patent pool.
      - the use the popularity of the standard and their patent pool to extract as much money as possible from as many people as possible.
      - re-invest the money left over after the CEO's pay into producing the next standard. (e.g.: MPEG 2 Video, MPEG Audio Layer II, etc.)
      - rinse and repeat

      The problem (not directly clearly stated in the summary) :
      - companies realize that they can make even more money
      - patent holder stay hidden for a while, they push a new standard knowing that it's patent covered
      - once the standard becomes pervasive to the point it's not possible to function without it (e.g.: MPEG Audio Layer III, a.k.a MP3), suddenly the patent holder wakes up (in this case: Frauenhoffer Institute).
      - the holder tries to sue the shit out of everyone to make even more money.
      - rent seeking and giant money grab rots the industry.

      (Historically, it's not the first time this has happened. See the holders of the LZW (Lempel-Ziv-Welsh) patent and the Graphics Interchage Format - GIF)

      The current situations with MPEG HEVC / H.265 is a giant patent minefield, with several patent pools and/or patent holder each going for their maximal money grab.
      To the point that HEVC/H265 isn't getting as widespread support in hardware as one would have expected when looking at its predecessors.

      Meanwhile, the industry is fed up with this shit :
      They've decided to do their own video standard with blackjack and hookers.
      Actually forget about... blackjack.

      They've decided to create a video standard with the explicit target for making it patent-free so it can be implemented for free by anyone who wants to use it online.

      It's not the first time such a switch of standards on the grounds of being fed up has happened.
      (The older being the switch from GIF to PNG by replacing the patented LZW compression with the free deflate).

      And that is what frightens the MPEG guys.


      As a note, a new standard won't necessarily devolve into the xkcd joke [xkcd.com].

      Each time, such switch have managed to actually succeed if :
      - there is an actual push for the standard by the industry (e.g.: browser have started supporting PNG)
      - the new standard is at least as good or even better that the old one (e.g.: PNG supports much more color schemes than the up to 256-palette of GIF. It also supports alpha channels, and the deflate compression is better).

      The AV-1 is frightening the MPEG guys even more on these grounds.
      - it's a coordinated effort by most of the industry big players including browser vendor, hardware vendor, server solution makers, etc. (i.e.: most of the company who make money by *using* video, as opposed to *selling the patents on the video* are in and pouring resources into it)
      - it's a new gen codec, so of course it compresses somewhat better than the older standards.

      And among the names of the companies involved, you see names who have been successful in deploying standards in the past :
      - Google who have pushed their VPx series of codec.
      - Xiph who have had relative success in the past:
      - already with Vorbis against MP3 and WMA. It didn't get widely known by the general users, but it got a niche success : nearly all no-name asian media players supports it, it's used by several older audio streaming web companies - like Spotify and the completely free implementation have seen success in being used in various applications and engines - like game music)
      - they did it again being among the company that contributed to OPUS, the free codec that currently beat everything else (including AAC) and is currently used by nearly any app/software on the

      • That's a good summary and the information about OPUS is new to me but it's wasted on "LOL TL;DR" merchants like the Pope Ratzo who'll just whine it is longer than the original summary which they couldn't read.

      • The easy reader version

        Thank you, friend. Now do you think I could get that in large print?

    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @07:28AM (#56031991) Homepage Journal

      1) They killed the goose.
      2) Then they cooked it and ate it.
      3) They made geese extinct. Many, many ducks were collateral damage.
      4) ...
      5) Now they wonder why there's no more golden eggs.

    • If I understand it correctly, he thinks the issue is licensing (well, duh), and is proposing that people contributing technologies to MPEG tick a box on their MPEG FRAND agreement along the lines of "If my patented technology is used in this standard way, then the technology can be used for free, but not if it's used in this other standard way."

      He doesn't give examples, and his use of the term "profiles" suggests it could boil down to "Allowed to be used for low bit rate video for free, but not in high b

  • Rent-Seeking (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @03:13AM (#56031443)

    The current MPEG "business model" has a name: rent-seeking [wikipedia.org].

    Anyone trying to profit from the MPEG standard can go DIAF.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, its actually better than that. All of the money, which the article suggests is a lot, that MPEGLA has spent on their new version will be wasted when AV1, which is open-source, replaces MPEG.

  • by locater16 ( 2326718 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @03:20AM (#56031467)
    How about that Leo? How about fuck off. Anything royalty free I'll take, and the less patents and more open source the better on top of that.
  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @03:25AM (#56031471) Journal

    The summary mentions they are competing with the Alliance for Open Media. AOM was founded by Amazon, Apple, ARM, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix and NVIDIA. Other AOM members include AMD, Hulu, and more.

    AOM members serve up over 80â... of the world's internet traffic, and decide which codec it will use. Almost all the internet traffic is handled by network based on equipment made by AOM members. AOM members design nearly 100â... of the world's CPUs. 98â... of consumer devices (computers and phones) run operating systems made by AOM members. You can't beat AOM unless AOM somehow destroys itself.

    Even is just Netflix and YouTube chose to offer a codec which was playable on Android, iPhone and Windows, that would be hard to beat. And all those companies are AOM members - plus many more, including Intel, AMD, and ARM.

    MPEG is going to need a RADICALLY different business model, unless they get extremely lucky and invent something far better than what all the AOM members can come up, or AOM destroys itself.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @03:34AM (#56031487)
      What weird proprietary encoding are you using where % is encoded as â?
    • by DingerX ( 847589 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @04:31AM (#56031591) Journal
      TFA claims that he's going to simplify everything by clarifying partial ownership, making how payment works more ambiguous, and allowing parts of the standard to be disabled. Right. If the "solution" is actually less complicated than what they're currently offering, I can see why AOM has already won. To me, this here MPEG nonsense is kryptonite to anyone needing a sustainable solution.
    • AMD, Intel and NVIDIA (who make the GPUs in desktop machines
      ) are on board with AOM meaning they will presumably support hardware acceleration of the new coded but what about the companies that make mobile GPUs powering most of the world's phones (and the SOCs they go into) like Qualcomm and Samsung? Will there be hardware acceleration for the new codec in the Samsung Exynos chips or the Qualcomm Snapdragon chips?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If Google says you need it for Android certification anyone who wants their chips to be usable outside of China will implement hardware acceleration for it.
        So for your particular ones, Samsung and Qualcomm aren't even going to have a choice.

      • by ptaff ( 165113 )

        Will there be hardware acceleration for the new codec in the Samsung Exynos chips or the Qualcomm Snapdragon chips?

        The whole point of AV1 codec is to be an open format unencumbered by patents. So if they want to, they can implement it in hardware, just like they can already implement Vorbis or PNG encoding/decoding in hardware, without owing anything to anyone.

      • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @09:14AM (#56032301) Journal

        Apple is a founding member of AOM, as well as Netflix, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Hulu is a member. So that's >80% of streaming media that will absolutely support the AOM codecs.

        Apple also happens to be a hardware manufacturer who makes their own mobile CPUs. So you can bet that iOS / tvOS / macOS will support the codecs.

        Google also happens to be a mobile OS manufacturer, so you can bet there will be codec support in Android and ChromeOS.

        Broadcom is a member, and they're currently trying to buy Qualcomm. Should that sale go through, you could bet that Qualcomm designers would get on board. Especially because ARM is a founding member, and could incorporate hardware decode into their core designs.

        AMD, Intel, and Nvidia are all founding members, so that covers roughly 100% of laptops and PCs.

        Samsung would basically be forced to get on board, as any relevant service would support AOM codecs, and everyone's hardware except theirs supports decode in hardware. It becomes an "adapt or die" situation - either take a pounding in your marketing when every single one of your competitors boasts several hours more playback time of UHD video on battery, or join up.

      • If ARM, a member of the alliance, includes it in their design, it'll be very easy for Samsung and Qualcomm to include it in their next design, if only "just in case".

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      Yup, I've been experimenting [github.com] with streaming vpx/opus and it's quite simple and should just work with any modern browser. You can do surprising bit of stuff with the video with Javascript, as well. That alone is going to be pretty compelling for any business that wants to do anything with video, even before you factor in not getting sued for trying to use the format for anything without a license.
  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @03:26AM (#56031473)

    What MPEG is learning is that in reality the world does not need them because open standards are far more cost effective,

    • by Ramze ( 640788 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @04:01AM (#56031543)


      MPEG is from the pre-internet era of media. Back when content was purchased on disk, it made sense to have a licensed standard for MPEG, MPEG2, and even MP3. MPEG4 for Blu-Ray was really the last gasp.

      Now, everything is streamed online. While Hollywood was fine paying a few cents on the dollar for encryption and compression on disks, streaming media sites are looking to cut costs.

      Netflix, Hulu, Google/Youtube, and others are big enough to make their own standards and cut out the MPEG group entirely. They even have different goals as there are different methods to adjust quality over live streams vs a pre-compressed file.

      I can't say I'll be sad to see MPEG go -- they were vicious in protecting their licensing and downright bullying in their negotiations, and the lack of alternatives held back progress for years. Now that real alternatives are here, they want to change... ha. good luck w/ that.

      • by cas2000 ( 148703 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @04:40AM (#56031613)

        Back when content was purchased on disk, it made sense ...

        "it made sense" is not the term I'd use.

        "paying rent to the MPEG patent trolls was unavoidable" is more accurate.

        Nobody should shed a tear for these trolls. They don't deserve any sympathy. They benefited from being parasites for far too long as it is. Now, they can go die in a fucking fire. And piss on them after the fire has gone out, not before.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @06:33AM (#56031851) Homepage Journal

        MPEG will live on in broadcast TV. With 8k coming in a couple of years that will almost certainly be broadcast as some kind of MPEG stream. Of course current 4k broadcasting is all MPEG 4. But for the internet, it's days do seem to be numbered.

        Side note, I had a look at some 8k TVs recently. They were inferior to the earlier demos because the compression artefacts were very noticeable. Current BluRay 8k streams are woefully inadequate. It will be interesting to see what they use for broadcast.

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @07:56AM (#56032061) Homepage

          All the standard definition TV is MPEG2 based here in Europe or anyone on DVB-T and most of ATCS is MPEG2 based as well. Consequently broadcast TV will in part use MPEG2 for some considerable period of time.

          But here is the rub the MPEG2 patents run out in just 15 days time on the 14th of February when 7334248 expires, which managed to sneak a whopping 1394 days extension from first filing. This is the only remaining patent from the MPEG-LA on MPEG2, as 6181712 expires *today*.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            DVB-T(2) in Germany is HEVC, in Sweden it is H.264. No SD available in either one.
            DVB-S (for SD) is MPEG-2, and as most HD is encrypted that is somewhat relevant, but still that does not actually leave THAT much MPEG-2 around.

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @07:14AM (#56031973) Journal
        I think it's more an artefact of centralisation. The MPEG model kind-of makes sense in a world where there are lots of smallish companies that want to use a video CODEC (ideally an interoperable one). MPEG provided a model where they could all pay a small amount and share the R&D costs (not a great model, because only stuff that was both patented and pushed in made it, so Apple stayed there with a patent covering part of the QuickTime .mov file format and nothing else, academics who developed a bunch of the ideas but didn't patent them got nothing, smaller players with better patented ideas were worked around and ignored). The difference now is that there are a number of companies making so much from having a decent video CODEC that they can afford to cover the entire R&D costs themselves (e.g. Google with YouTube, Netflix, Apple with the iTunes store). Any of them working in isolation could produce a decent CODEC and save more in royalties than they'd spend on R&D. A group of them together will pay far less in total R&D and then end up with something that doesn't require any license accounting (saving them more).
    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @04:54AM (#56031637) Homepage

      What MPEG is learning is that in reality the world does not need them because open standards are far more cost effective,

      Well... there's been many failed attempts at trying to replace closed source codecs with open source ones like Theora, the VPx codecs, Direc, Daala and so on. The only one with a bit of traction was VP9 but not more than that I'd call it a trial balloon. Vorbis never caught on to replace MP3 or AAC either. It's one straw in particular that broke the camel's back and it's that those licensing HEVC saw the rise of video streaming services and got a bit too greedy. The MPEG standards have mostly been driven by dedicated AV companies that make like camcorders and set top boxes and they've sorta refused to see the massive power shift caused by the trend towards streaming/smartphones.

      Basically, if you have Android and iPhone (= Google and Apple) recording AV1 video, YouTube and iTunes (= Google and Apple) delivering AV1 video to hardware decoding in smartphones (= Google and Apple) you have a working ecosystem entirely without Canon/Nikon/Panasonic/Samsung/NEC/Fujitsu/JVC and so on. Companies like Intel, AMD and nVidia don't really care that much because practically they need to support HEVC in hardware anyway, they just need to be on board. That's a one time expense, AV1 is free but the HEVC patents will probably expire before they can remove support. It's the possibility of running royalties that caused uproar.

      To me this is more like why Google funded Mozilla rather than start Chrome much earlier, they wanted an open web to deliver web apps and through an open source browser they got all forces allied against IE. They didn't care about giving away the browser because it wasn't their money maker. Same with AV1, they're making and giving away the codec because they'll make plenty money on services that use AV1. It's a bad time to be MPEG, they're like Opera that was trying to sell a browser in a market where everyone else is giving it away. It should be expected, you don't really make any money selling JPG or PNG or MP3 codecs... eventually the market for paying for a video codec would dry up. But they probably hoped it would be a while longer...

      • by roca ( 43122 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @05:18AM (#56031681) Homepage

        VP9 hasn't become dominant but it has been beating HEVC in many markets. http://1yy04i3k9fyt3vqjsf2mv61... [netdna-ssl.com]

        It was Microsoft who drove the purchase price of browsers to zero, when they gave away IE to try to "cut off Netscape's air supply" in the famous phrase.

        Google has never really "funded" Mozilla; they have always paid for search traffic, just like they pay Apple for iOS search traffic.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Vorbis is very widely supported, even on cheap hardware. Open source made it possible - those boxes typically run some kind of embedded Linux and throw in some free audio and video decoding libraries that support Vorbis.

        I think GPU manufacturers might drop MPEG support soon. The CPU is powerful enough to decode 4k anyway, and you can probably implement a good amount of acceleration in shaders anyway which makes it an option and not part of the base cost. Why add a few bucks to the cost of your GPU just to s

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          Why would you drop MPEG2 decoding when it goes patent free in 15 days time. If anything you are more likely to include it now than before.

        • I think GPU manufacturers might drop MPEG support soon.

          Oh hell no. The CPU isn't powerful enough. The difference between CPU and GPU encode/decode is my CPU (3930k I believe - 6 core/12 thread) struggling to keep up with 1 stream (and sucking down a ton of power) and having no issues streaming 4 streams, and only streaming 1 or 2 using next to no power.

      • Past example (Score:5, Informative)

        by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @06:39AM (#56031873) Homepage

        Well... there's been many failed attempts at trying to replace closed source codecs with open source ones

        And the big web switch from GIF to PNG is a good exemple of a successful one.
        Usually it requires 2 things :
        - a big industry push
        - as good or better as the replacement

        like Theora, the VPx codecs, Direc,

        Dirac is a very small scale stuff. Mainly pushed by the BBC and hence only used in their echo-system.

        Regarding the VPx family :

        - VP6 / Theora : happened late at a point when it wasn't that competitive against MPEG standard of the day and was only pushed by a handful of companies (mainly Xiph Mozilla, and considered by Google for Youtube) while the rest of the industry pushed for MPEG which *did* had patent costs, but not crazy ones yet.
        - VP9 : pushed by Google, a company a tiny bit more relevant, but still not industry-wide, because people were betting on the upcoming MPEG-HEVC/H265 because nobody knew yet the massive patent minefield it was going to be.
        - VP10 : see below.

        Daala and so on.

        Daala *is* AV-1.

        AV-1 is done by combining the efforts of Xiph's Daala, Cisco's Thor, and Google's VP10.

        Some parts didn't make it (Daala's Perceptual Vector Quantization - PVQ - currently isn't enabled by default in AV-1 and is considered too different/weird), other parts of Daala are actually in AV-1 (the entropy coders experiments of Daala are now part of the AV-1 standard).

        Now: AV-1 is showing interesting results.
        And nearly anyone who is relevant in the internet-video business is on it. (you find content streamer like Netflix and Google (Youtube), browser makers like Google (Chrome) and Mozilla (Firefox), etc. - the whole ecosystem is in there).

        By the GIF/PNG exemple and unlike the less popular video formats mentioned above, all the chance are on AV-1's side.

        Vorbis never caught on to replace MP3

        It still had some limited success :
        - nearly any no-name asian media-player supports it. (Despite a campaign by Microsoft's WMA certification to explicitly ban it)
        - accepted as part of the IETF standards
        - supported by all major browsers
        - thus a few on-line web service have built around it (Spotify is one notorious example, and it's far from a tiny player).
        - Youtube can optionally use it.
        - Thanks to widely available free code, it has also found it's way in numerous software applications (lots of game engines used it)

        So it's not as widely known by the public as MP3 or AAC, but it still beat WMA, and it still managed to get used quite a bit.

        or AAC either.

        Vorbis/MP3/WMA all predate AAC.

        AAC appeared much later.
        It also ended up feature many of the same problem as the MPEG Video codecs mentioned in the article : mainly heavy patenting.

        So although it managed to gain a foothold in the TV/Radio (DAB+ and HD DVB-x) and Music selling (iTunes) business, it got completely blown out on internet.
        OPUS has basically come and destroyed it. It has much better audio quality, and is completely free of patent licensing.
        As such OPUS is what is used by nearly any modern app : Skype, WhatsApp, FB Messenger,... chances are if it's on your smartphone and allows you to talk with audio, it probably runs on OPUS.
        There are even experiments in using it on radio (OPUS is an unofficial codec used in the "DRM" long range AM-like radio).

        It's one straw in particular that broke the camel's back and it's that those licensing HEVC saw the rise of video streaming services and got a bit too greedy.

        Yup, totally agree, it's the patent-trolling that killed HEVC (and AAC for that matters).

        Basically, if you have Android and iPhone (= Google and Apple) recording AV1 video, YouTube and iTunes (= Google and Apple) delivering AV1 video to hardware decoding in smartphones (= Google and Apple) you hav

        • by Trogre ( 513942 )

          Dirac is a very small scale stuff. Mainly pushed by the BBC and hence only used in their echo-system.

          This is possibly the best pun I have seen in a long time.

        • On the other end, none of my media players (Xbox One, Nvidia Shield, Chromecast, AppleTV, etc) support it or my 4k projector (All support MPEG2/h.264/HEVC).

          HEVC is already entrenched in the UHD standard, so that isn't going away any time soon. So unless they can get the content creators (TV Shows and movies) to switch, then AV-1 will be a "web-only" technology unfortunately or we will have to wait for a UHD 2.0 standard.

          • On the other end, none of my media players (Xbox One, Nvidia Shield, Chromecast, AppleTV, etc) support it or my 4k projector (All support MPEG2/h.264/HEVC).

            The idea of AV-1 creators, is to use GPGPU approaches for the hardware acceleration for the first devices supporting it.

            So your Xbox, Shield and Chromecast will likely get the support added in a future OS upgrade, probably managing to get fluid play (but maybe at a higher power consumption than MPEG-AVC/H264).
            After all, AV-1 is also going to be IETF's NetVC, and all these device boast web browsers.

            Apple, being one of the HEVC licensor is probably going to drag their feet much longer.

            HEVC is already entrenched in the UHD standard, so that isn't going away any time soon.

            From being used in TV ?

      • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

        It's one straw in particular that broke the camel's back and it's that those licensing HEVC saw the rise of video streaming services and got a bit too greedy

        That's an understatement if there ever was one. Many of HEVC's patent holders refused to put their patents into the MPEG-LA pool - so instead of one organization and FRAND licensing, we get three pools (and Technicolor off on its own, dumping the FRAND idea entirely -- each licencor is individually negotiated).

        The authors of x.265 pleaded for sanity, knowing HEVC won't go far without a major change. Many groups can't get the licenses required for HEVC at any price.

        AOM is a collective middle finger to the gr

    • They're also learning the lesson that Rambus learned. Yeah, you can get a design score from one of the leading manufacturers of PC hardware standards and rake in some fat stacks of cash; but if everyone hates your breathing guts, they will do everything they can to cut you out.

      I look forward to reminiscing about MPEG in the same way in 15 years when some new asshat company / organization tries to encumber the next generation of technology, or patent torpedo an industry-wide standard.

  • by SysEngineer ( 4726931 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @03:28AM (#56031479)
    For years MPEG licenses screwed people. Now that they have competition they say "we are sorry, we will work with you now". If AV1 did not come out, MPEG licenses would still cost too much.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    for current patent licenses to 'fund' the next-gen codec...

    (how much of that actually went to *development* and how much went into executives' bank accounts? cuz it sure as hell doesn't cost "hundreds of millions" of dollars to develop a fucking codec)

    and you wonder why your business model is "broken"? holy fuck, you're so totally clueless, you could run for office.

    free and open source will find a way when you gouge people and the manufacturers of the devices they purchase and use.

    shrivel up and DIE, Movin

  • by roca ( 43122 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @04:59AM (#56031657) Homepage

    Wow. That's basically a declaration of surrender by the chairman of MPEG. This is a great day for free software. It's been a long time coming.

  • This just in (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @05:48AM (#56031761)

    You can leech from companies for a while until they find out that it's cheaper to cut you and develop it themselves. This is basically what happened here. That "Alliance for Open Media", you know who that is? According to their Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] it is "Amazon, Apple, ARM, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, and Nvidia". Notice something in that lineup? Makers of networking hardware/software, makers of CPUs/GPUs along with content providers and the makers of the tools to show that content. In other words, everyone that MPEG sold to.

    They simply noticed "Hey! Instead of throwing that money at these goons, throw it in a pool and let's develop a standard that suits OUR needs!"

    Plus, no rent to pay after we have it.

  • It's not clear to me what problem he is trying to solve.
    • The problem he is trying to solve: he's a carnivorous scavenger dinosaur looking up at a fireball descending in the sky.

      Extinction for his kind is coming. And he knows it.

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @12:44PM (#56033543) Homepage Journal

      He believes that research into better ways of video encoding will stop if nobody can make money from merely doing the research and publishing it. Hence, he's trying to make MPEG, which uses the patent system to enable that kind of paid research, viable in an environment in which the need to pay royalties to use a technology is highly unpopular and undermined by free alternatives.

      He's wrong, as Google, Hulu/Vudu/Roku/Consonant-U-Consonant-U/Amazon etc have plenty of incentives to fund such research and contribute it to the public domain. But traditionally this is how video and audio encoding standards have always been done (see also the H.26x series), so it's hard for him to break out of that thinking.

  • by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @09:35AM (#56032403)

    To me, the critical thing to grok here is that there were sufficient powerful interests that wanted MPEG dead and were willing to coordinate and to spend freely to make it happen. The fact that we are going to get native hardware support in the next generation of everything for AOM formats seals the deal and makes my point: you have to spend millions over long lead times to bake things into silicon.

    This is all a Good Thing(TM) because in this case the AOM solution is preferable to the MPEG solution, but it's definitely not some David-beats-Goliath scenario where some kid in a garage takes down the big-bad using the magic of open standards. In fact, if anything, the forces behind AOM are (and proved to be) even more Goliath-y than MPEG and it shows that industry power has shifted in their direction.

    So less David-beats-Goliath and more like a bigger Goliath decided not to put up with a mini-Goliath anymore. Or, if you prefer, the king is dead, long live the king.

    • ...but it's definitely not some David-beats-Goliath scenario where some kid in a garage takes down the big-bad using the magic of open standards.

      That depends on how far back you look. Open standards are the foundation for most of what will go into the new CODEC's being developed. Daala and VP10 are direct descendants of the CODEC's developed by Xiph.org, which was essentially a smart kid working in his garage when compared to the MPEG goliath.

      The primary difference here is that David partnered with Goliath's other victims rather than going it alone.

      • You've got the relationship backwards. A larger Goliath was annoyed at a smaller Goliath and enlisted the right David, gave him a twenty-million-dollar-nuclear-enabled-custom-silicon-powered slingshot.

        The fact that this slingshot originated with Xiph needs to be noted alongside the fact that the current AOM bears nearly no resemblance to it.

  • As people -- and corporations -- unite to produce open standards and throw off the yoke of proprietary products, there is always pain for the guys profiting from the dying stuff. It is an inevitable cycle, and the holders of the morbid proprietary technology would do best to cut their losses and invent something truly new that provides value people are willing to pay for. When any technology based on software becomes widespread, it is only a matter of time before someone produces an unencumbered free vers

  • FTA:

    "AOM’s royalty free model will spread to other business segments as well."

    And there we have the point Leonardo Chiariglione labored to make. He could have simply said - no one will get paid with royalty free codecs.

    To which the consumer would say: tough titties.

    This is not a problem that needs a solution.
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @12:42PM (#56033527) Homepage Journal

    MPEG forgot the 1st law of extortion: Never demand more than it would cost to have you killed.

  • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @01:01PM (#56033715) Journal

    The problem is that any technical standard that is reasonably complex may infringe on intellectual property both from those who participate in the standardization process (and are supposed to declare IPR) and unknowingly from those who do not participate.

    Just because AOM says AV1 it does not infringe on any IPR does not mean it does not. This is only truly discovered after no one sues the big pockets for years after deployment.

    I am almost never a government-solutions style person, but the problem is that government created patents, and the current patent system is not particularly useful in coordinating multiple patent claims to orchestrate into a licensable standard.

    For any significant standard (a "national standard" from ANSI, for example), all IPR claims on that standard should be required to be brought within one year of standard publication, and fit into a common sane licensing scheme (perhaps one worked out in the standardization body or ANSI before publication). If you don't speak up in one year after publication (i.e. submarine patents) then tough luck, you can not claim infringement on use of the standard.

    I'm totally for letting people get paid for their IPR. I'm also totally for allowing standards to work and be licensable.

    • That makes a lot of sense, and it would make it more similar to trademarks: enforce your rights or lose them.

  • That wall of babble serves as a great example of why we need royalty-free codecs.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.