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

Universal HD Analog Encoder Tested (DW Compressor) on Jul 06, 2017
Digital Watchdog has released the Compressor HD, a "universal" HD analog encoder, with support for AHD, CVI, TVI and SD analog cameras. We tested...
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...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Dahua Removes Auto Rebooting on Oct 17, 2017
For years, Dahua has automatically programmed its IP cameras to reboot weekly, a highly atypical and questionable practice. Following IPVM...
Deep Learning Tutorial For Video Surveillance on Oct 17, 2017
Deep learning is a growing buzzword within physical security and video surveillance. But what is 'deep learning'? In this tutorial, we explain...
Multipoint Lock Access Control Tutorial on Oct 17, 2017
Doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry, and money can be misspent on wrong locks that leave doors quite vulnerable. While closed and locked...
Buy From B&H, Ship Direct From ADI on Oct 16, 2017
B&H, one of the largest online sellers of video surveillance equipment to end users, regularly purchases their video surveillance equipment...
Competing Against Siemens on Oct 16, 2017
Siemens entered the integration business with 15,000+ customers, through their acquisition of Security Technologies Group in 2001. Since that time,...
Geovision GV-EDR2100 Tested Vs Hikvision on Oct 16, 2017
A number of ADI's top selling IP cameras are, at least surprisingly to us, from Geovision. We recently bought and tested the Geovision EDR2100...
Top Problems Searching Surveillance Video (Statistics) on Oct 13, 2017
When crimes, accidents or incidents happen, the video surveillance system is a key component in finding out and proving what actually...
Exacq M Series Low Cost NVR Tested on Oct 12, 2017
With recent cyber security issues hitting NVRs and cameras from low cost leaders Dahua and Hikvision, users are increasingly seeking alternatives...
Long Time Industry Exec Leads New Security Franchise Offering on Oct 12, 2017
John Nemerofsky previously built and sold a $150 million dollar integration business, and then was VP of Niscayah from its spinout of Securitas,...
PoE Powered Access Control Tutorial on Oct 12, 2017
Powering access control with Power over Ethernet, like for IP cameras, has become increasingly common.  However, the demands for access power are...

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