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MPEG-4 over IEEE 1394

The 1394 Trade Association has set up a new study group to investigate whether there is a need or demand to create a specification for MPEG-4 video, particularly H.264, across IEEE 1394 (a.k.a FireWire or iLink) the way that DV is now carried across FireWire using a common specification.

Although IEEE 1394 is purely a high speed serial bus, having a common specification for DV has contributed to the rapid rise of DV video and audio over FireWire to become a very established standard. IEEE 1394 can be used for other purposes as some scanners have demonstrated. In the video arena, Avid’s Flamethrower technology used to connect Mojo, Adrenaline or Nitris over FireWire and AJA’s Io family are alternate uses for IEEE 1394. There is no cross-compatibility with these proprietary standards.

The study group will start meeting in March to identify which parts of the MPEG-4 standard are applicable and review strategies for implementation, if there is determined to be a need. Focus will start on the H.264 codec designed for a full range applications from 3G cell phones to HDTV. Delivering MPEG-4 video from digital TVs, DVD Players and other products with MPEG-4 video capabilities has been growing and is expected to continue to grow. Having a common connectivity specification over a high speed serial bus would simplify interconnecting hundreds of models of players, recorders and displays.

Having a standard for H.264 over IEEE 1394 would be one step in opening the way for H.264 as an acquisition codec. That would be a big step forward in acquiring HD because H.264 is 2-3 times more efficient than MPEG-2, currently being used in HDV.

For more information on H.264, refer the Hub briefing paper "H.264 AVC: What is it and why do I care?"

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