The NIST says the AVC/H.264 file compression format, also referred to as the MPEG-4 AVC format, cuts the bit rate in half but retains the quality of MPEG-2 according to research by the federal agency.

Government Computer News reports research conducted by the NIST’s Charles Fenimore and other researchers found a 50-percent gain in compression efficiency for the new standard, created in May 2003 by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).

The research is being published in NIST’s report, Subjective Quality Assessment of the Emerging AVC/H.264 Video Coding Standard. The report says there was a noticeable superiority of AVC/H.264 compared to state-of-the-art MPEG-2 video encoders in almost all test cases.