What is the Impact of H.264 on NVRs and User's PCs?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jun 25, 2008

The biggest concern in using H.264 lies on the impact that H.264 video streams will have on NVR servers and client PCs. If H.264 video significantly reduces the number of cameras an NVR can support or undermines the ability of operators to view video, such losses could eliminate the overall storage and bandwidth impact H.264 promises. Please see a review of potential H.264 risks for an overview.

Today I would to share 2 pieces of information:

  • An explanation from Arecont Vision on why their H.264 implementation should not generate such problems
  • An announcement of an independent testing program for H.264 cameras that I will run to validate performance.

Arecont Vision's Explanation of H.264 Decoding Impact

Dr. Michael Korkin, Director of Engineering at Arecont Vision shared the following explanation:

"Arecont Vision's main goal was to minimize the cost of the H.264 encoder implementation on camera as much as possible while providing a fully compliant H.264 stream, and to also reduce the corresponding computational load on the H.264 decoder, typically implemented as software running on a client computer.

The H.264 standard is comprised of multiple computational tasks, each with different computational load. The standard leaves it up to the encoder implementation to pick and choose which options are used and which are not, while maintaining full compliance with the standard. The trade-off is the stream size at a given video quality vs. the computational load in the encoder and/or the decoder. Some options contribute 1-3% to reducing the stream size while requiring an extra 50% computational load. Other options reduce the stream significantly, while requiring very little additional resources. In the encoder the extra load translates into a more expensive hardware implementation, in the decoder it translates into a higher computational load on the CPU. Moreover, within each of these options there are multiple sub-options that could vary the encoder cost and the corresponding decoder load dramatically.

We have carefully selected a subset of H.264 options and features that are important for security and surveillance applications, and then optimized their implementation on top of that, so that the cost of the encoder is very low, while the corresponding CPU load of the H.264 decoder is no higher than the MJPEG decoder load. In our own AV100 software we use an off-the-shelf software decoder known as FFMPEG which produces a CPU load slightly lower than when decoding an MJPEG stream from the same camera at the same image resolution, same frame rate and same video quality. In addition, our new H.264 camera models stream at full frame rate and full resolution into QuickTime and VLC media players running on regular off-the-shelf computers."

Launching an Independent Testing Program

Beyond simply verifying that vendor's claim are generally correct, it is always important to determine if there are edge cases or hidden interoperability problems. Those things tend to be hard for any vendor to acknowledge or even sometime to discover.

Since this is such an important issue, it would benefit all of us (including myself) to better understand the impact as quickly as possible. If H.264 works it will be boon for most security managers and manufacturers.

As such, I am inviting any camera manufacturer releasing H.264 cameras to send me a 60 day unit for evaluation and testing. I will conduct tests and report them back publicly and freely on the site.

Additionally, I am asking NVR manufacturers to publicly share their results as well. As a single individual, I cannot possibly do a comprehensive job by myself. However, I can do some tests and help spur the community to share information.

If you have feedback or suggestions, please share in the comments.

Related Reports on Encoder

60% Lower Bandwidth, 'Video Anywhere' - Digital Barriers TVI / EdgeVis on Oct 28, 2016
Streaming video over low bandwidth, wireless connections often results in stalled video, broken up video or significant video delays. But Digital...
H.265 Licensing Fees Examined / CEO Interview on Jul 14, 2016
Axis has repeatedly warned about H.265 licensing, most recently: [The H.265 license model] includes a royalty on revenues generated on the...
Micropower Fails on May 02, 2016
Wireless video surveillance is a tough business. Micropower sought to deliver a wireless, turn-key, professional video solution. The most famous...
$100 True WDR Camera Tested (FLIR CVI) on Jul 31, 2015
True WDR has traditionally been quite expensive. And HD analog has so far been mostly low-end models. Now, FLIR has released a ~$100 1080p CVI...
Samsung Outdoor SmartCam Tested on Jun 09, 2015
The #1 missing feature for Google / Nest / Dropcam has been no outdoor model, inspiring a slew of DIY and unauthorized commercial add-on...
Testing Dahua HDCVI Encoder With VMSes on May 14, 2015
HD Analog cameras have incredibly low prices for true HD video. But HD analog recorders are pretty simplistic and underwhelming. Moreover, many...
Axis vs Hikvision vs Sony Encoder Test on Mar 18, 2015
In this report, we share test findings of three popular four port analog SD encoder models: Axis P7214 Hikvision DS-6704HFI Sony...
Milestone Super Low Cost HD Solution on Dec 15, 2014
Recent IPVM testing has shown and verified a super low cost HD solution using Milestone that has never been marketed. In this note, we break it...
Milestone Launches DVRs on Sep 19, 2014
So much for innovation and the open platform, Milestone has entered the DVR business. In this note, we examine the upside for Milestone, the...
Industry News Roundup May 2014 on May 23, 2014
Monitoring over 100 surveillance sites, the IPVM Spider picks up 300+ pieces of news each month. Here are 18 of the most noteworthy news items,...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Axis Camera Vulnerabilities From Google Researcher Analyzed on Mar 23, 2017
A Google security researcher has reported 6 vulnerabilities for Axis cameras, affecting multiple models and firmware versions. In this report, we...
OpenEye Takes Aim At Exacq on Mar 23, 2017
First Milestone targeted Exacq with a takeover offer, and now OpenEye is gunning for them with an offer to swap out Exacq for their cloud-managed...
Lock Keyways For Access Control Guide on Mar 23, 2017
Lock keyways can be the difference between a lock working or not. Understanding keyways is important for access control. Indeed, a member recently...
Broken Browser Support for Video Surveillance on Mar 22, 2017
Modern web browsers have left the security industry behind. Current Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge browsers do not support NPAPI plugins,...
ADI Favorability Results on Mar 22, 2017
150 North American integrators provided feedback on 6 distributors, and why they do (or do not do) business with ADI. ADI is clearly a big name in...
1 Million Dahua Devices Exposed To Backdoor on Mar 22, 2017
Statistics show that 1 million Dahua devices are publicly exposed and vulnerable to the Dahua backdoor. Despite this, Dahua has downplayed the...
Hikvision Hires Crisis Communication Writer on Mar 21, 2017
Hikvision has hired a crisis communication writer as the company ramps up its efforts to deal with the 'crisis' it feels it is facing. 'Crisis...
Glass Break Sensor Tutorial on Mar 21, 2017
Burglars often break glass windows to get into a house. Using glass break detectors in conjunction with alarm contacts is a good way to protect the...
Unikey Smart Phone Access Control Platform on Mar 21, 2017
More and more people carry smart phones. Many think this could replace the conventional key or card for access control. However, using a phone...
Hikvision Attacks IPVM on Mar 20, 2017
Hikvision has attacked IPVM repeatedly over the last month, both in the international press and in its dealer communications. Attacks Listed On...

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