We heard some rather interesting information for anyone who thinks that we need more than Full HD at 1920x1080 video. As you can imagine Nvidia is always thinking how to help the decoding process of the next generation codecs and since 4K video plays an important role in company's roadmap, it is not a big surprise to learn that the next generation Maxwell supports the H.265 codec.
This comes from a reliable industry source close to the matter and since H.265 can halve the size of the existing files compared to H.264, it is definitely the codec to support in the future. We would not be surprised to see support for Google’s VP9 codec, but we didn’t get this bit of information confirmed. Both VP9 and H.265 support video up to 8K resolution which gives you an idea that these codecs are here to stay. H.265 was developed as the High Efficiency Video Coding HEVC format, for which the Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) joined forces.
Maxwell will come with a lot of computation power and the most efficient and faster way to decode and encode H.265 is to have a dedicated, hardware fixed function. As we all know 4K/UHD has four times the pixels of 1080p and with that in mind needs a lot more computational power. This is why Nvidia will integrate H.265 in its next generation GPU. When we say 20nm Maxwell, we can easily call it a second generation Maxwell, a set of tweaked GPU designs that we expect to see shipping before the end of the year.
At this time we don’t know if AMD plans to incorporate H.265 support in their next generation graphics cores, but we would be surprised if it did not. Intel is also known for implementing quite good video ending in its CPUs and we expect to see H.265 and VP9 supported by Intel in hardware at some point. It is highly unlikely that AMD and Intel will drag their feet on H.265 implementation, especially given their ongoing iGPU arms race. New processors need H.265, simple as that.
The future is 4K, it will stream, it will get to games and 4K movies are coming to a home theatre near you. Now it's just a matter of having the right hardware to play it smoothly, and of course having more 4K content than we have right now.
You can read a nice comparison piece about H.265 and VP9 here.