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YouTube rolls out VP9 encoding to boost video speeds

By Charlie Osborne

YouTube has begun rolling out VP9 codec support to videos uploaded to the website to improve video compression and speed.

Google says the added support is in response to consumers watching more higher-quality footage across devices including PCs, mobile devices and consoles, and therefore creating the need for tech companies to supply the means for high-quality streams to be watched with better bandwidth efficiency.

To watch any kind of video content, from DVDs to .MP4s, computer systems need to pull on codecs in order to convert the data into images. VP9 is one of the newest types of codec; an open-source variant developed between Google and WebM. With the emergence of 4K television sets — which demand support for resolutions four times higher than HD — codecs need to be developed to keep up.

The codec prioritizes the sharpest image features and uses asymmetric transforms to help keep even the most challenging scenes looking crisp and block-free. Additional improvements mean that bandwidth is not abused, and by cutting bitrates in as much as half, VP9 videos can often be watched without buffering or increased cost.

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