YouTube to demonstrate 4K video streaming using Google's VP9 format at CES 2014 next week.
YouTube to demonstrate 4K video streaming using Google's VP9 format at CES 2014 next week.Reuters

YouTube is planning to demonstrate 4K video streaming at CES 2014 in Las Vegas next week, using Google's new open source VP9 video codec format, according to GigaOm.

VP9 is meant to consume half the bandwidth that high-definition videos use today when streaming content to smartphones, tablets, PCs and TVs, meaning that there will be much less buffering when watching HD videos online.

4K is the more common name of the Ultra High-Definition (UHD) standard, which refers to a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels which is four times the resolution of Full HD video which has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

While 4K televisions have been on sale for a while, content for them has so far been lacking, with most content being upgraded from Full HD to UHD.

Google has been developing the VP9 codec as a royalty-free alternative to the commercial H.265 video codec, also known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) that is currently used in most 4K televisions on the market right now.

Spinning wheel of death

YouTube's global director of platform partnerships Francisco Varela told GigaOm that YouTube is seeking to improve the delivery of HD videos, but could possibly add support of H.265 as well in the future.

"This certainly isn't a war of the video 2015, you'll be surprised every time you see that spinning wheel."

Since the internet giant's previous attempt to create an open source video codec - VP8 -was unsuccessful in 2010 due to lack of hardware support and fierce opposition from rival companies, this time round Google has already signed up a list of television hardware partners to bring VP9 on the market.

To this end, YouTube's 4K streaming will be showcased at CES 2014 at LG, Panasonic and Sony's booths.

Pledge support

Both mobile and PC chip makers including Nvidia, Qualcomm, ARM, Intel, Broadcom, Imagination, MediaTek, RealTek, M-Star and Marvell, as well as big consumer electronics players Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba have also pledged to support the new video format.

Some 4K compatible mobile processors have already been announced from Nvidia and Qualcomm, but at the moment it is not clear whether the chips will feature specialised accelerators or use on-chip decoders to read video formats.

On the PC, Mozilla's Firefox web browser and the Videolan media-playing program already support the VP9 codec.

Online video streaming service Netflix announced in November 2013 that it has begun public testing of steaming 4K video, while in December, Samsung hinted that the next incarnation of its popular Galaxy S series smartphone, the Galaxy S5, would feature a 4K screen.