Cisco has introduced a free video codec Thor, competing with VP9 and H.265

Cisco has made an attempt to create an alternative to video encoding formats VP9 and H.265, and announced its own free video codec Thor, who has nominated as a candidate for the title of the Internet standard. Thor codec does not require royalties and is covered by patents Cisco, available on the terms of use. The reference implementation of the codec is available under license BSD.

As one of the reasons for Thor called deplorable situation with licensing H.265, which creates just two patent pool participants who intend to collect royalties for the use of H.265, despite the fact that not all holders of related intellectual property presented H.265 in these pools. As a result, it is expected that the cost of licensing H.265 will be exorbitant and will be 16 times the cost of licensing H.264 for each device. In the scheme of licensing H.265 also no upper limit of the amount of annual contributions.

Such conditions prevent delivering H.265 in any public or freeware applications such as web-browsers. H.265 is also disadvantageous for the delivery of the free version of commercial products. Because the areas where it makes sense to use H.265 are only hardware products. In connection with the foregoing, H.265 can not be considered as a universal video codec, so the company Cisco and decided to develop their own unlimited deductions codec that could claim to be a universal high-quality next-generation codec, and could be used in all areas.

By developing Thor were attracted the world’s leading experts in video compression, including Gisle Bjøntegaard and Arild Fuldseth, participated in the creation of H.264 / MPEG-4. To work on the codec has also been connected lawyers and consultants in the field of intellectual property, allowing form design process, taking into account the patented technologies and avoiding overlap with existing patents. Analysis of possible were eligible technologies embedded in Thor, under the patents covering other video codecs is not yet completed, with the identification of possible intersections are developed or used alternative ways to circumvent the patents.

Regarding the possibility of Thor, the first tests show a high level of quality compared to Daala, and the backlog of VP9 and H.265. This is partly explained by the fact that in the initial implementation of Thor is lacking many planned features and included a minimum set of optimizations.

12 August 2015

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