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What is HEVC and Why Should You Care?

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Ah. Technology acronyms. In our industry they are pervasive and eventually become broadly used and well understood. For the average user, however, they sometimes take the incomprehensible and distill it down into something even less meaningful.  Acronyms can be especially frustrating when they are first starting to be used widely, so here’s a quick overview of one you will hear a lot more about in the coming months.

HEVC stands for High-Efficiency Video Compression, and HEVC decoding is supported by the 6th-Generation AMD APUs coming to market soon.  Wondering why you need this in your next PC?  The answer is simple: content providers are now adopting HEVC as the means to stream their HD and Ultra HD content. Cameras are also expected to move to the new standard for image files.

HEVC, also known as H.265, was developed by international regulatory bodies to replace the current H.264 standard used for HD content today. The standard's main goals are to improve the sharpness, clarity, and color of HD and Ultra HD content on modern displays.  It also enables reduced file sizes, which reduces the bandwidth needed to stream content from your favorite online video service.  (Amazon, for example, has announced it will stream 4K HEVC content on its Instant Video service.)  It is the perfect combination of getting more for less; HEVC essentially doubles the data compression ratio of its predecessor in the same number of bits, allowing you to watch higher quality video with the same bits/bandwidth (or same quality video with half of the bits/bandwidth).

On PC platforms, this has typically been done with a combination of hardware and software, but AMD will be the first with a dedicated HEVC decoder on its processors, a much more effective solution. AMD’s HEVC decode performance, as well as other architectural details of the 6th Generation AMD APU, were presented at ISSCC 2015.

So, now you know. Pick up an 6th Generation AMD APU later this year and you will be able to stream hours of your favorite programming on a quiet, cool running PC that has performance leftover to get a little work done on the side.  HEVC. It’s the next best thing coming to acronym lovers everywhere!

Gary Silcott is a Communications Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

*HEVC acceleration is subject to inclusion/installation of compatible HEVC players.

*Originally Posted by gsilcott in AMD on May 6, 2015 12:03:29 PM

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