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  • VP9

    VP9 is an open and royalty-free video coding format developed by Google.

    VP9 is the successor to VP8 and competes mainly with MPEG's High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC/H.265). At first, VP9 was mainly used on Google's video platform YouTube. The emergence of the Alliance for Open Media, and its support for the ongoing development of the successor AV1, of which Google is a part of, led to growing interest in the format.

    An offline encoder comparison between libvpx, two HEVC encoders and x264 in May 2017 by Jan Ozer of Streaming Media Magazine, with encoding parameters supplied or reviewed by each encoder vendor (Google, MulticoreWare and MainConcept respectively), and using Netflix's VMAF objective metric, concluded that "VP9 and both HEVC codecs produce very similar performance" and "Particularly at lower bitrates, both HEVC codecs and VP9 deliver substantially better performance than H.264".

    Starting from each key frame, decoders keep 8 frames buffered to be used as reference frames or to be shown later. Transmitted frames signal which buffer to overwrite and can optionally be decoded into one of the buffers without being shown. The encoder can send a minimal frame that just triggers one of the buffers to be displayed ("skip frame"). Each inter frame can reference up to three of the buffered frames for temporal prediction. Up to two of those reference frames can be used in each coding block to calculate a sample data prediction, using spatially displaced (motion compensation) content from a reference frame or an average of content from two reference frames ("compound prediction mode"). The (ideally small) remaining difference (delta encoding) from the computed prediction to the actual image content is transformed using a DCT or ADST (for edge blocks) and quantized.

    VP9 is the last official iteration of the TrueMotion series of video formats that Google bought in 2010 for $134 million together with the company On2 Technologies that created it. The development of VP9 started in the second half of 2011 under the development names of Next Gen Open Video (NGOV) and VP-Next. The design goals for VP9 included reducing the bit rate by 50% compared to VP8 while maintaining the same video quality, and aiming for better compression efficiency than the MPEG High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard. In June 2013 the "profile 0" of VP9 was finalized, and two months later Google's Chrome browser was released with support for VP9 video playback. In October of that year a native VP9 decoder was added to FFmpeg, and to Libav six weeks later. Mozilla added VP9 support to Firefox in March 2014. In 2014 Google added two high bit depth profiles: profile 2 and profile 3.

    Throughout, Google has worked with hardware vendors to get VP9 support into silicon. In January 2014, Ittiam, in collaboration with ARM and Google, demonstrated its VP9 decoder for ARM Cortex devices. Using GPGPU techniques, the decoder was capable of 1080p at 30fps on an Arndale Board. In early 2015 Nvidia announced VP9 support in its Tegra X1 SoC, and VeriSilicon announced VP9 Profile 2 support in its Hantro G2v2 decoder IP.

    In March 2019, Luxembourg-based Sisvel announced the formation of patent pools for VP9 and AV1. Members of the pools included JVC Kenwood, NTT, Orange S.A., Philips, and Toshiba, all of whom were also licensing patents to the MPEG-LA for either the AVC, DASH, or the HEVC patent pools. Sisvel announced it would demand a licensing fee for devices using VP9, but would not seek royalties for encoded content. At the time of the announcement, a list of patents owned by Sisvel was not publically available. However, Sisvel's CEO stated in an interview that such a list would be posted on Sisvel's website before any licensing demands were sent out.

    On September 12, 2014, Google announced that development on VP10 had begun and that after the release of VP10 they plan to have an 18-month gap between releases of video formats. In August 2015, Google began to publish code for VP10.

    However, Google decided to incorporate VP10 into AOMedia Video 1 (AV1). The AV1 codec will use elements of VP10, Daala (Xiph/Mozilla) and Thor (Cisco). Accordingly, Google has stated that they will not deploy VP10 internally nor officially release it, making VP9 the last of the VPx-based codecs to be released by Google.