H.264 Baseline vs Main Shootout (2012)

Author: John Honovich, Published on Feb 21, 2012

While H.264 is often considered a single 'thing', many different 'types' of H.264 exist. These types have performance tradeoffs. For the past few years, most IP camera manufacturers only supported the most basic type - baseline profile. Now, increasingly, manufacturers are adding support for more 'advanced' types include main and high profile. In this report, we share our test findings of baseline vs main profile measuring differences in bandwidth consumption and CPU utilitzation.

Background on H.264

IP camera manufacturers has largely standardized on H.264 as the codec of choice for surveillance streaming. Since basically all surveillance video is compressed, codecs are required. In the past, MJPEG and MPEG-4 were most commonly used. Now it is predominantly H.264. In 2009-2010, a heated debate existed about using MJPEG or H.264. As our extensive test results of MJPEG vs H.264 showed, H.264 offered clear and compelling bandwidth savings. 

H.264 Baseline vs Main Profile

Of the numerous H.264 profiles, the two most common considered for surveillance are baseline and main. Baseline is typically considered the least efficient of the H.264 profiles but also the least demanding of computing resources. By contrast, main profile is considered to be more bandwidth efficient but also more demanding.

Increasingly, new IP cameras are using main profile by default while the previous generation from 2-3 years ago were more likely to use baseline.

Questions for Our Test

We performed a test in 3 different scenes - daytime simple, nighttime and complex / high motion - to measure differences in bandwidth consumption and CPU utilization for H.264 baseline and main profiles.

The questions we addressed were:

  • How much of a bandwidth savings, if any, does main profile deliver over baseline?
  • How much does bandwidth savings vary by type of scene?
  • How much does CPU utilization increase, if any, when using main rather than baseline?
  • Should you prefer main profile cameras over baseline ones?

***** *.*** ** ***** ********** * ****** '*****', **** ********* 'types' ** *.*** *****. ***** ***** **** *********** *********. *** the **** *** *****, **** ** ****** ************* **** ********* the **** ***** **** - ******** *******. ***, ************, ************* are ****** ******* *** **** '********' ***** ******* **** *** high *******. ** **** ******, ** ***** *** **** ******** of ******** ** **** ******* ********* *********** ** ********* *********** and *** ************.

Background ** *.***

** ****** ************* *** ******* ************ ** *.*** ** *** codec ** ****** *** ************ *********. ***** ********* *** ************ video ** **********, ****** *** ********. ** *** ****, ***** *** ****-* **** **** commonly ****. *** ** ** ************* *.***. ** ****-****, * ****** debate ******* ***** ***** ***** ** *.***. ** *** ************* ******* ** ***** ** *.*** ******, *.*** ******* ***** *** ********** ********* *******. 

H.264 ******** ** **** *******

** *********** *.*** ********, *** *** **** ****** ********** *** ************ *** ******** and ****. ******** ** ********* ********** *** ***** ********* ** the *.*** ******** *** **** *** ***** ********* ** ********* resources. ** ********, **** ******* ** ********** ** ** **** bandwidth ********* *** **** **** *********.

************, *** ** ******* *** ***** **** ******* ** ******* while *** ******** ********** **** *-* ***** *** **** **** likely ** *** ********.

Questions *** *** ****

** ********* * **** ** * ********* ****** - ******* simple, ********* *** ******* / **** ****** - ** ******* differences ** ********* *********** *** *** *********** *** *.*** ******** and **** ********.

*** ********* ** ********* ****:

  • *** **** ** * ********* *******, ** ***, **** **** profile ******* **** ********?
  • *** **** **** ********* ******* **** ** **** ** *****?
  • *** **** **** *** *********** ********, ** ***, **** ***** main ****** **** ********?
  • ****** *** ****** **** ******* ******* **** ******** ****?

[***************]

Key ******** / *******

**** **** ***:

  • ********* ********* *** ******. **** ******* ******* ********* *********** ** 10-30% ** *** * *****.
  • ** *** *****, ** *** ** *********** ********** ** *** usage ******* ******** *** **** ******* *****.
  • ** **** ****** *****. ********* *********** *** **-**** **** **** profile. ******* ***********, *** ***** *** ********* ************* ****** **** either ** *** *.*** *******.

***************

***** *** ****** ********* ******* *** ******* *** *********, ***** cameras **** **** ******* *** * **** ** **** *** not * ****** ** ****** *******. *******, ******* ********** **** profile *** ******** * *****, **** ******** ******. **** ** simply * ***********, *** *********.

Comparing ********* ***********

********* ********* ******* ***** **** ** ******** ******* ** ****** to ******* ****** *******. ******* ****** ** ****** *** ** a ****** ** ******* ********* ********* ***********. ***** ******* **** can ******* ****** ***********: ****** ***** ** ***, *********** ****** ******* ****, ********* ** ***** **********, ***. *** ********, ** *** testing *** *** **** ***** ** *** ******** **** *****. Both *** ****/** ******* *** *** ********* *********** ****** ************ both ****** *** *** *** ***** (** ******** **********) **** with ***** *** **** *******.

********* *********** ******* ** ******* ** *** ********* **** ******* supporting ************ ********* ** ******** ******. *** ** ********* ******* you **** *** *** **** ** ****. ** ********, ** you *** *** ** *** **** ********* *****, **** ** main *** ******** **** ********, ** **** **** **** ** a ******* ************ ***** (***** *** ** **** ** ******** see ** *** *****). ** *** ***** *****, ** **** this **** *** ***** ***** ******. **** ** *** ** based *** **** ** **** * ****** ******* **** ***** simple ****** ** *** *** ** **** ** ********.

The ****

*** ***** ***** ***** ** ***** *** ******* ***** **** so *** *** *** *** ********* *** *** *** ******. Note: ***** ** **** *** '********' ** *****, ** ***** the **** ******* ** *** ** *****:

 
Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports on Bandwidth

48MP 180 Camera (Digital Watchdog) Test on May 10, 2017
Camera resolution continues to advance, with Digital Watchdog offering the MegaPIX PANO 48MP 180° camera, the highest resolution mainstream camera...
Last Day - IP Networking Course May 2017 on Apr 26, 2017
Today is the last day to register for the May IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video...
Hanwha Lowest Cost WiseNet X Camera (XND-6010) Tested on Apr 13, 2017
IPVM bought and tested the lowest-cost WiseNet X model, the indoor 2MP fixed focal XND-6010 dome, continuing our testing of Hanwha's new WiseNet X...
Pelco Surevision 3 Tested on Apr 12, 2017
Pelco has released generation 3 of its Surevision cameras, claiming improved performance in both super low light and WDR performance. We bought...
TVI 4.0 Doubles HD Analog Bandwidth on Mar 05, 2017
HD analog's move up market continues. Starting a few years ago at just 720p, HD analog is now poised for 4K and beyond. Techpoint, the company...
Arecont Vision MicroDome Duo Tested on Feb 14, 2017
Arecont Vision is back with another multi-head camera, this time thinking smaller with the MicroDome Duo, a two-imager model, with the tagline...
Camera Course Winter 2017 on Feb 02, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
Arecont Lowest Favorability Results on Jan 25, 2017
Given Arecont is 3 time defending integrator choice for worst camera manufacturer, it should be little surprise they had the lowest score in the...
Avigilon Pro 4K Camera Tested on Jan 03, 2017
Avigilon is best known for their large sensor, high megapixel cameras. But with new offerings from Sony and soon Axis, the questions is how well...
IP Networking 2017 Book Released on Jan 02, 2017
The new IP Networking Book 2017 is a 197 page in-depth guide that teaches you how IT and telecom technologies impact modern security systems. The...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Axis Criticizes OEMs: "When You Buy An Axis Camera, An Axis Camera Is What You Get!" on May 19, 2017
When you buy a Honeywell camera, you likely get a Hikvision, Dahua or some other company's product. The same goes for easily 100 different...
Hackable 125kHz Access Control Migration Guide on May 19, 2017
Despite being one of the most popular credentials, 125 kHz credentials are easily copied and insecure as we showed in our test results, video...
Forget The Backdoor, "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" On Sale on May 18, 2017
Less than 2 weeks after the Hikvision Backdoor was confirmed, Hikvision has launched a sale "ON ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS". In this note, we examine...
Amazon Techs Installing IP Cameras Tested on May 18, 2017
In 2015, Amazon started offering video surveillance installation. Now, Amazon has made it a lot easier, with automatic add-on options and...
Hanwha Recorder Vulnerability Analyzed on May 18, 2017
ICS-CERT has released a vulnerability notice for Hanwha SRN-4000 recorders.  Hanwha provided additional information to IPVM about this issue,...
ShotSpotter To IPO, Facing Low Revenue and Losses on May 17, 2017
A rare event for North American security manufacturers is upcoming. ShotSpotter is planning to IPO on the NASDAQ, aiming to raise $34.5...
DMP Video Doorbell / Access Reader Examined on May 17, 2017
Consumers increasingly demand video doorbells, with "doorbells selling like hotcakes, everyone wants a doorbell", according to ADT's CEO. At ISC...
FLIR Is Giving Away $3,000 Demo Kits on May 17, 2017
Everybody likes free stuff, and FLIR is using that concept to attract dealers by giving them $3,000 worth of demo gear for attending a...
Shark Tank Startup Guard Llama Mobile Panic Tested on May 16, 2017
A Shark Tank TV show appearance has attracted big attention for Guard Llama, a security startup touting a 'panic button' paired with mobile app...
Axis Beats Avigilon Growth Rate (AVO Q1 2017) on May 16, 2017
In what is likely the first time ever, Axis beat Avigilon's revenue growth for Q1 2017. Inside this note, we examine Avigilon's Q1 2017 financial...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact