MPEG-2 Compression Technology

MPEG-2 compression format and technology.


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MPEG-2 is a popular standard for audio/video compression. MPEG-2 is widely used as the format of digital television signals that are broadcast by terrestrial (over-the-air), cable, and direct broadcast satellite TV systems. It also specifies the format of movies and other programs that are distributed on DVD and similar disks. As such, TV stations, TV receivers, DVD players, and other equipment are often designed to support this standard. MPEG-2 was the second of several standards developed by the Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG) and is an international standard (ISO/IEC 13818). Parts 1 and 2 of MPEG-2 were developed in a joint collaborative team with ITU-T, and they have a respective catalog number in the ITU-T Recommendation Series.

MPEG-2 includes a Systems section, part 1, that defines two distinct, but related, container formats. One is the Transport Stream, designed to carry digital video and audio over possibly lossy media, such as broadcasting, examples of which include ATSC and DVB. MPEG-2 Systems also defines Program Stream, a container format designed for reasonably reliable media such as DVDs. MPEG-2/System is formally known as ISO/IEC 13818-1 and as ITU-T Rec. H.222.0.

The Video section, part 2 of MPEG-2, is similar to the previous MPEG-1 standard, but also provides support for interlaced video, the format used by analog broadcast TV systems. MPEG-2 video is not optimized for low bit-rates, especially less than 1 Mbit/s at standard definition resolutions. However, it outperforms MPEG-1 at 3 Mbit/s and above. All standards-compliant MPEG-2 Video decoders are fully capable of playing back MPEG-1 Video streams. MPEG-2/Video is formally known as ISO/IEC 13818-2 and as ITU-T Rec. H.262.

The MPEG-2 Audio section, defined in part 3 of the standard, enhances MPEG-1's audio by allowing the coding of audio programs with more than two channels. This method is backwards-compatible, allowing MPEG-1 audio decoders to decode the two main stereo components of the presentation.

Part 7 of the MPEG-2 standard specifies a rather different, non-backwards-compatible audio format. Part 7 is referred to as MPEG-2 AAC. While AAC is more efficient than the previous MPEG audio standards, it is much more complex to implement and somewhat more powerful hardware is needed for encoding and decoding. Advanced Audio is also defined in Part 3 of the MPEG-4 standard.


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