Why mbcast.com delivers the best image quality

Why mbcast.com delivers the best image quality

By September 25th, 2011 Technical No Comments

The heart of the MobileBroadcast Client is actually one of the greatest pieces of software I’ve ever found: The x264 encoding platform, a software implementation of the well known ITU-T H.264 standard. x264 development was started by some developers of the famous VLC media player, which in turn started as a project from École Centrale Paris, a prestigious engineering school in France. Today, it has a large developer community, with contributers from companies, universities and private software engineers all over the world.

So, what’s special about x264? Well, it’s currently the best available video encoder that can be found. This is not only a claim, but also confirmed by several scientific codec comparisons. For instance, an institute at the Lomonosov Moscow State University evaluates different codecs within regular intervals. For the third time (and for the second consecutive year), x264 clearly won over several other well known encoders with famous names in the industry. Don’t believe? Have a look at the Seventh MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Video Codecs Comparison.

But beating all the others concerning image quality still does not make a good encoder. Another main factor is speed, and this is where another strength of x264 is revealed: It’s heavily optimized for modern CPUs using brilliant hand-coded assembly routines, and thus makes use of all the technical capabilities recent Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs can offer. Especially since Intel launched it’s Nehalem architecture around two years ago, software encoding became faster on normal desktop CPUs than on specialized hardware encoders. And with the new Intel-Sandy-Bridge architecture that came out in early 2011, encoding became even faster.

But besides all this technical evidence on x264, one event impressed me most: At the recent IBC, I was talking to a staff member of a very well known codec manufacturer, and asked about how their H.264 implementation compares to x264. Without a second of consideration he admitted: “They are better.”