Comparison of H.264 and VC-1
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|Goals||Designed to offer very high image quality with excellent compression efficiency||Designed to meet a variety of industry needs with many profiles and levels, allowing for varying compression, quality and CPU usage levels, where the lowest level is for portable devices, designed with low CPU usage in mind, while the high levels are designed with very high quality and compression efficiency in mind|
|Example industry use||Supports 4:2:0 compression / color space||Supports studio archiving requirements with 4:4:4 color space;
separate black and white (BW) video mode
|Documentation||Not free. Reference decoder, comes with external documentation.||? AVC/H264 Licensing costs and terms from MPEG LA. Reference encoder and decoder free as well. Additionally, JVT & M4IF mailing lists are available where one may receive answers on AVC related questions.|
All sources for the below information are from the respective specifications listed in the overview section.
|Partition sizes||16×16 and 8×8||16×16, 16×8, 8×16, 8×8, 8×4, 4×8, and 4×4|
|Integer transform||8×8, 4×8, 8×4, and 4×4||4×4; 8×8 available in High Profile only|
|Frame||Used for progressive or interlaced content|
|Macroblock sizes||16×16 only|
|Motion vector||Two dimensional vector offset from current position to reference frame|
|Picture||A field or frame|
|Skipped macroblock||No data is encoded for macroblock|
|Bitstream formats||single bit stream||NAL and byte stream|
|Bitstream format||In advanced profile, each Bitstream Data Unit has its own header.
Simple and Main profile provide neither sequence nor entry point headers.
|SPS (sequence parameter set),
PPS (picture parameters set),
slice header, macroblock
|Deblocking filter||In-loop filter and overlap transform||In-loop only|
|CABAC||No||Only supported in Main and higher profiles|
|Variable transform size||Yes||Only in High profile and above|
|Slice||Contiguous (integer number of macroblock rows only)||Contiguous or non-contiguous|
|Sub-pixel interpolation methods||bicubic, bilinear||6-tap filter for half pixels; averaging for quarter pixels|
|Variable Length Coding||Yes|
|B frame used for predicting other pictures||Yes|
- Loomis, Jay; Mike Wasson. "VC-1 Technical Overview". Microsoft.
- SMPTE Technology Committee C24 on Video Compression Technology (2005-08-23). "SMPTE421M: SMPTE Draft Standard for Television". SMPTE Standard for Television: VC-1 Compressed Video Bitstream Format and Decoding Process.
- "VC-1 Patent Portfolio License Briefing" (PowerPoint). MPEG LA. 2007-11-05.
- "Windows Media Licensing Royalties for Final Products". Microsoft.
- "AVC Patent Portfolio License Briefing" (PowerPoint). MPEG LA. 2007-12-12.
- "AVC/H264 Licensing costs and terms from MPEG LA".
- "H.264: Advanced video coding for generic audiovisual services". March 2003.
- "H.264/AVC Software Coordination".
- Goldman, Matthew; Alois Bock. "Advanced Compression Technologies for High Definition". TANDBERG Television.
- AVC/H264 Licensing costs and terms from MPEG LA
- EEtimes comparison of video codecs 
- NAB2005 presentation: codec comparison slides 13-14
- Codec challenge comparison on Doom9 with professional VC1 encoder, PeP, and x264 for H264 => x264 win the first round
- Microsoft employee discusses differences between VC-1 and H.264
- Comparison at Doom9