SES Demos 4K (Ultra HD) Transmission In New, Highly Efficient Standard

4K, or "Ultra HD," as it's being called, is clearly the next major leap in high-def television. Select cinemas in major cities already use 4K projectors, and the visual difference over 1080p is stunning. But, how on Earth are we supposed to get that amount of resolution to millions of households across the globe using the existing data highways? Science, of course. SES announced this week alongside its partners Harmonic, the worldwide leader in video delivery infrastructure, and Broadcom Corporation, that is has pioneered the first Ultra HD transmission in the new HEVC standard live from an ASTRA satellite at 19.2 degrees East. The HEVC standard features an up to 50 percent encoding efficiency improvement, compared to previous test broadcasts in MPEG-4 AVC (H.264).

What's it all mean? Well, the demo was recently presented, offering viewers a first look at a full 3840x2160 pixel Ultra HD picture in HEVC, while previous demonstrations were either broadcast in H.264 or using 4 HD pictures in parallel. Ian Trow, Senior Director of Emerging Technology and Strategy, Harmonic, said: "SES has achieved an important industry first with Harmonic and Broadcom. This DVB-S2 transmission clearly demonstrates the benefit of HEVC encoding using the Harmonic ProMedia in a live to air Satellite application. A significant compression improvement has been achieved using HEVC when compared to previous Ultra HD deployments using MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)."

Basically, this new standard is far more efficient, which sets it up to perhaps broadcast legitimate 4K content to TVs everywhere. One can hope, huh?