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Advances in Multimedia
Volume 2008 (2008), Article ID 164027, 27 pages
Research Article

Traffic and Quality Characterization of the H.264/AVC Scalable Video Coding Extension

1Samsung Information Systems America, Digital Media Solutions Lab, 3345 Michelson Drive, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92612, USA
2Department of Electrical Engineering, Arizona State University, Goldwater Center MC 5706, AZ 85287-5706, USA

Received 9 June 2008; Accepted 14 August 2008

Academic Editor: Shiwen Mao

Copyright © 2008 Geert Van der Auwera et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The recent scalable video coding (SVC) extension to the H.264/AVC video coding standard has unprecedented compression efficiency while supporting a wide range of scalability modes, including temporal, spatial, and quality (SNR) scalability, as well as combined spatiotemporal SNR scalability. The traffic characteristics, especially the bit rate variabilities, of the individual layer streams critically affect their network transport. We study the SVC traffic statistics, including the bit rate distortion and bit rate variability distortion, with long CIF resolution video sequences and compare them with the corresponding MPEG-4 Part 2 traffic statistics. We consider (i) temporal scalability with three temporal layers, (ii) spatial scalability with a QCIF base layer and a CIF enhancement layer, as well as (iii) quality scalability modes FGS and MGS. We find that the significant improvement in RD efficiency of SVC is accompanied by substantially higher traffic variabilities as compared to the equivalent MPEG-4 Part 2 streams. We find that separately analyzing the traffic of temporal-scalability only encodings gives reasonable estimates of the traffic statistics of the temporal layers embedded in combined spatiotemporal encodings and in the base layer of combined FGS-temporal encodings. Overall, we find that SVC achieves significantly higher compression ratios than MPEG-4 Part 2, but produces unprecedented levels of traffic variability, thus presenting new challenges for the network transport of scalable video.