MPEG-2 Systems
Paving the MPEG Road
Jan van der Meer Consultancy
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MPEG & MPEG-2 Systems

MPEG, which stands for Moving Pictures Experts Group, is the name of a group of audiovisual coding experts, responsable for a series of well-known international standards, used for the coding of audio-visual information in a digital compressed format, such as MPEG-2 video, AVC video, also known as H.264, HEVC video, MP3 audio and AAC audio. MPEG operates under the umbrella of ISO/IEC as Working Group 11 within Sub-Committee 29 of Joint Technical Committee 1 on Information Technology of ISO and IEC and is formally referred to as ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC29WG11.

MPEG-2 Systems is the standard used for digital television broadcast and for optical media (DVD and Blu-ray) to transport packets with compressed audio, compressed video and other digital data. While the audio and video compression standards specify the format of the coded digital data, MPEG-2 systems specifies the format of a single stream carrying the coded audio and video data. MPEG
-2 Systems specifies two closely related formats: the program stream format, used for DVD, and the transport stream format, used for digital television and Blu-ray. The MPEG-2 system features include:

  • packetization of coded audio and video data;

  • requirements for the decoding of audio and video in receivers/players;   

  • synchronization in receivers of decoded audio and video;

  • ensuring a high quality of service.

Regularly, new audio and video coding standards evolve. For example, in 1996, MPEG-2 video was published, in 2004 AVC video and in 2013 HEVC video. A new coding standard can only be used in digital television, DVD and Blu-ray after an update of MPEG-2 systems describing how to apply the new coding standard in a MPEG-2 system stream. Hence, to pave the road for next generation MPEG coding technology in applications, regularly extensions of MPEG-2 systems are defined.
MPEG-2 systems is deployed widely. Over the years (until 2013) in total more than 4000 million Set Top Boxes, digital TV sets, DVD players and Blu-ray players were shipped worldwide, each supporting MPEG-2 systems. Furthermore it is supported in many mobile devices. In other words, MPEG-2 systems is deployed already for twenty years and most probably will continue to be applied for many more years to come.

Jan van der Meer Consultancy
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