Viewers of Silicon Valley will appreciate the earth-shattering importance of compression algorithms. To most everyone else, it's a geeky bit of maths that's of no particular interest. But when Google promises an algorithm that can cut the bandwidth needed to stream a video in half, things get a little more interesting.
In an interview with CNET, Google engineering product manager James Bankoski laid out the details of the upcoming VP10 codec, the successor to the VP9 codec that is already making your YouTube sessions go better. Among a whole bevy of performance improvements is the headline feature: more efficient compression, so that a 4K video file is half the size compared to VP9.
Google is hoping to have the VP10 standard up and running by the end of next year; after that, it's up to other hardware and software companies to integrate the (free) codec into their products. The fact that Google's codec is free-to-use will likely give it a leg up in the world: rival codecs, like the H.264 alternative favoured by Apple, charge device manufacturers a small fee ($US0.60) for every H.264-compatible device they ship.