Ambarella CEO Admits H.265 and 4K Not Popular

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 26, 2016

Ambarella is the main chip provider for high-end surveillance cameras driving higher resolution and new CODECs. While Ambarella has been pushing both H.265 and 4K, Ambarella's CEO now admits neither are seeing strong adoption in the West.

In this note, we examine the admission and what this means for the future of the video surveillance market.

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Comments (9)

Interesting article, thanks.

A few comments

H.265 still delivers less value and more operational cost than smart H.264.

H.265 and smart codecs are not necessarily an either/or choice, though.

But in China we start seeing that HEVC standard being well widely adopted and a lot of people are using them in for Chinese internal consumption.

What's the reason that the huge domestic Chinese market is buying h.265 when smart h.264 is available, if not for licensing?

IPVM examined the HEVC / H.265 licenses fees here, finding that the fee was $0.80 in Western countries per camera and $0.40 in China.

I believe this is only HEVC Advance's fee, there is still the MPEG LAs patent pool to contend (or risk ignoring).

H.265 and smart codecs are not necessarily an either/or choice, though.

Sure, but once you go to H.265, you need to worry about VMS support and increased client decoding demands. With smart H.264, neither of these are concerns, as you know. Plus, since smart H.264 already massively decreases bandwidth consumption, the incremental savings for smart H.265 are not as meaningful.

What's the reason that the huge domestic Chinese market is buying h.265 when smart h.264 is available, if not for licensing?

Neither of us are experts in the local Chinese market but a few things insiders there have told us:

  • H.265 helps differentiate / block out smaller competitors, so the larger Chinese companies can push major buyers to require it, reducing competition from rivals who can not as quickly / easily obtain H.265
  • The greater prevalence of end-to-end solutions (i.e., cameras and recorders from same manufacturer) reduces the concern of VMSes not supporting it, which is still an issue in the Western open VMS market

> Plus, since smart H.264 already massively decreases bandwidth consumption, the incremental savings for smart H.265 are not as meaningful.

True, the bitrate drop from "dumb" to "smart" is big for low-complexity scenes for both Smart H.265 and H.264. H.265 has further I-frame reduction that will be handy but most likely not as big a drop as smart vs. dumb in general.

However, in more complex scenes (e.g. subway station, PTZ camera) Smart H.265 could bring meaningful bandwidth savings over Smart H.264. With increasing complexity the difference between Smart H.264 and Smart H.265 will likely move toward the inherent technology advantage of H.265 vs H.264 of ~40-50%. There is no magic here and one can expect the Chinese guys to show this in their promotion.

Most smarts are adaptions to more strongly filter out non-moving areas and IPVM showed that a big Smart H.264 saving comes from increasing the GOP size. This works well for mostly static scenes, but not for scenes with much motion, and many VMSes don't seem to like it and expect one I-frame every second or so.

Hey, that maybe in your next codec test round with Smart H.265 cameras you can test with a busy scene as well.

What if Smart H.265 can reduce another half bandwidth consumption, will it be competitive?

What if Smart H.265 can reduce another half bandwidth consumption, will it be competitive?

It can be competitive if enough VMSes adopt H.265 and the cost / complexity to decode is not too high. Unfortunately, the former is going to take some time to resolve and the latter will likely be an issue for a long time.

Is the Chinese adoption of HVEC possibly due to the lower adoption of western VMS products? This is just my interpretation of how I assume Chinese end users connect their IP cams, more to NVRs than VMS servers. So, if that is true, then it is easier to adopt HVEC, because the IP cam and NVR are the same brand. Where in the USA, it seems that we are more likely to use a VMS server.

Please correct me if my assumptions are wrong.

I think you're right about dvr/nvrs.

On the other hand, Milestone, Genetec and Aaxon are supporting h.265.

Still, its somewhat illusory because these are direct drivers written for particular models, so camera coverage is likely to be inconsistent and arbitrary for some time.

Now, if we had an even a draft ONVIF Profile specification for h.265, maybe things would be better, since a single driver could cover a multitude of cameras, but...

Related: Hello H.265, Goodbye ONVIF?

On the other hand, Milestone, Genetec and Aaxon are supporting h.265.

No.

Milestone will support it shortly, but not yet. And also only for most expensive versions.

Genetec supports it generally but there are still issues with specific cameras, e.g., we have the new Samsung H.265 cameras but they do not work currently with Genetec.

Finally, as you know, since ONVIF does not support H.265, you have to use RTSP (with the limitations of that) or do a proprietary integration which limits cameras supported and increases cost / barriers to support.

No.

Right, no Milestone til next quarter. Thanks.

Genetec supports it generally but there are still issues with specific cameras, e.g., we have the new Samsung H.265 cameras but they do not work currently with Genetec.

Finally, as you know, since ONVIF does not support H.265, you have to use RTSP (with the limitations of that) or do a proprietary integration which limits cameras supported and increases cost / barriers to support.

Yes, I do know, as I said:

Still, its somewhat illusory because these are direct drivers written for particular models, so camera coverage is likely to be inconsistent and arbitrary for some time.

Now, if we had an even a draft ONVIF Profile specification for h.265, maybe things would be better, since a single driver could cover a multitude of cameras, but...

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