NHK and Mitsubishi Create World’s First 8K HEVC Encoder

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8K Data Requirements

In 2003, Japanese public broadcaster NHK demonstrated the first example of the 8K video format (also known as “Super Hi-Vision”). Since then, broadcast engineers have showcased several advancements in 8K transmission, but they’ve constantly battled to overcome the tremendous gigabit bandwidth obstacles for transporting the 33.2 megapixel 8K Ultra HD video format.

To put things in perspective, the upcoming 4K Ultra HD format (3840 × 2160) is 4 times the resolution of Full HD (1920×1080), while the 8K Ultra HD format (7,680 × 4,320) is 16 times the resolution of Full HD. Earlier this year, Sharp showcased their 8K TV prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show, without disclosing too much information about the source of their 8K content.

Currently, 5 minutes of uncompressed 8K Ultra HD content requires approximately 1 terabyte of storage, meaning that your standard 90 minute 8K Hollywood movie would require something in the realm of 18 terabytes — so unless you’re operating a tier 4 data center in your home, this might not seem too practical.

8K HEVC Encoder

NHK and Mitsubishi have announced a solution to compress 8K data into a more manageable beast by developing the world’s first 8K HEVC encoder. Formally known as H.265, HEVC is the new compression standard recently approved by the ITU, and the successor to today’s widely used H.264 (AVC) standard. It is capable of encoding the same quality video at half the bitrate of H.264, making it about twice as efficient as today’s standards. HEVC encoding for 4K video is already in the works.

NHK 8K Encoder DiagramNHK and Mitsubishi have managed to tackle the 8K bandwidth hurdle by dividing the 8K image into seventeen 7,680 x 256 pixel strips and then using parallel processing to share data between the adjacent strips, allowing for real-time high efficiency video encoding of 8K data — all squeezed into a modest metal box.

Research and development of the 8K encoders will continue, and the companies have extended an invitation to view the 8K HEVC encoders between May 30th and June 2nd at the NHK Science and Technical Research Laboratories in Tokyo.

Below are some of the 8K encoder specifications provided by NHK.

Specifications of 8K Ultra HD Super Hi-Vision HEVC encoder
Video coding scheme MPEG-H HEVC/H.265
Main 10 profile at Level 6.1
Input/output resolution, frame rate 7680 x 4320 pixels
60 Hz frame frequency (60 frame per sec.)
Chroma format 4:2:0
Color precision 10 bit
Input/output interface 3G-SDI x 17

Via NHK (translated)

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About the Author

Andrew Michael is the Founder of Ultra HDTV Magazine. His interest in the technology began in 2008, before the term "Ultra HD" became mainstream. Andrew has contributed numerous articles, and continues to evolve Ultra HDTV into the ultimate Ultra High Definition resource.

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