Anixter H.264 Performance Claims Examined

By: John Honovich, Published on Dec 22, 2009

Equipment distributor Anixter's deeply flawed H.264 study reveals key issue in the use and marketing of H.264 IP cameras. In their Lab Report on H.264 [link no longer available], they claim, "In tests with little or no motion, the H.264 video stream used only 10 percent of an equivalent MJPEG video stream’s bandwidth. In tests with a high degree of motion, the difference in network bandwidth consumption was smaller but still substantial."

Let's examine key flaws that specifiers and users should beware of:

  • The Anixter test uses a single camera's results as a proxy for H.264 in general. This is quite dangerous as H.264 implementations and resulting performance vary greatly. Some cameras support only CBR, others spike modestly with motion, some surge.
  • Anixter ignores the bandwith impact of low light surveillance. In low light, we see frequent radical increases in bandwidth consumption, more problematic than simply motion during the day.
  • The Anxister test places emphasis on 'little or no motion' scenarios when a very high percentage of surveillance monitors high traffic areas. This is especially the case for wireless systems where H.264 may be most needed but offers the lowest gains because of the low light and high motion common in public surveillance connected by wireless networks.
Update: In April 2010, Anixter updated their test results [link no longer available] to emphasize the impact of motion for H.264's bandwidth consumption.
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