First HEVC 4K broadcasts take place

Written by Andy Stout way for 4k...

HEVC is real! The first live Ultra HD transmissions involving the HEVC codec have taken place with SES, Harmonic and Broadcom combining to squeeze the signal down into 20Mbit/s.

The end-to-end demonstration was presented at the SES Industry Days expo in Luxembourg last week and used Harmonic's ProMedia Xpress and a HEVC decoder reference-design system based on Broadcom's BCM7445 device for receiving the HEVC encoded Ultra HD transmission. The signal was broadcast in DVB-S2.

Previous 4K demos have either been broadcast in H.264 or by using 4x HD pictures in parallel, so this is a significant milestone in the road to 4K, especially given that 20Mbit/s is well within the compass of the current satellite distribution network. (The first DVB HD broadcasts were 19Mbit/s MPEG-2 I seem to remember - Ed).

The likes of Netflix and other broadband-based operators who have assumed that they would have a year or two of advantage in marketing Ultra HD before the 4K satellite services kicked in might well have to rethink their strategies. HEVC seems to be hitting its full potential much quicker than anyone predicted.

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