Microsoft Azure to support streaming of HDR and 4K UHD videos

Microsoft is making big moves in the entertainment industry with the Xbox One and the planned Project Scorpio. The company wants to bring true 4K gaming with HDR with its 2017 console. To be frank, HDR gaming will come first via the Xbox One S, but 4K gaming will have to wait.

The company realizes the huge potential for 4K and HDR entertainment, and as such, Microsoft is preparing its Azure cloud platform to be on the right track to support both formats. The goal is to make it possible for Azure to stream 4K and HDR videos at 60FPS.

Azure to support HDR and 4K UHD

Azure to support HDR and 4K UHD

Anil Murching, Senior Program Manager, Azure Media Services, made the announcement via the Microsoft blog that the company is planning to support HEVC encoding, and trials have began to take place. HEVC/H.265 is a codec that should be able to deliver content at half the size of content streamed in AVC/H.264.

We understand the quality will still be the same, which is important when delivering videos at Ultra High Definition.

The encoder provides the following improvements:

  • HEVC encoding at UHD/4K resolutions, including 4096×2160 pixels at 60 frames/second
  • Support for high dynamic range (HDR) content via HDR10 Media Profile with bit depth of 10-bits per color sample, BT.2020 color primaries, encoded at HEVC Main 10 Profile

It’s a great move by Microsoft to do this with the HEVC codec. However, since this codec is patented, and distributors must pay to use it, we have to wonder if it will ever take off. Google is supporting open platforms, and other open platforms are being created to tackle HEVC. Time will tell if Microsoft’s plan turns out to be worthwhile in the end.

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Vamien McKalin possesses the awesome power of walking on water like a boss. He's also a person who enjoys writing about technology, comics, video games, and anything related to the geek world.