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YouTube to deliver 4K video at half the bandwidth

A new video codec from Google promises to deliver 4K content without all that buffering.

At CES 2014, YouTube will be showcasing 4K streaming with a range of partners including Sony, Panasonic and LG.

(Credit: Andrew Hoyle/CNET)

Google has been working on its VP9 codec that promises to save approximately 50 per cent of bandwidth compared to H.264. What this means in practical terms is an end, mostly, to buffering. Google is positioning VP9 as an alternative to the H.265 codec that is used as part of other 4K systems.

One of the issues that has hampered widespread 4K TV — or Ultra HD — uptake is the lack of content available to consumers. With YouTube pushing its weight behind free bandwidth-friendly 4K material, this could change quickly. At the Google I/O conference in 2013, Matt Frost from Google Chrome's web media team said that the codec would save schools, startups and programmers millions of dollars as VP9 is royalty-free.

To help showcase VP9, Google has brought on board hardware partners like Sony, Panasonic and LG who will showcase streaming at their booths at CES 2014 next week.