Google Guetzli compression algorithm squeezes more out of JPEGs

Google Guetzli compression algorithm squeezes more out of JPEGs”

Take Google's new open source JPEG algorithm called Guetzli - it can dramatically reduce the size of JPEG images without loss of quality, according to ArsTechnica.

The new encoder is called Guetzli - Swiss German for "cookie", apparently - and according to Google, it can create "high quality JPEG images with file sizes 35 percent smaller than now available methods". "However, while Guetzli creates smaller image file sizes, the tradeoff is that these search algorithms take significantly longer to create compressed images than now available methods".

Coming back to Guetzli, meaning "cookie" in Swiss German, this compression technique is quite similar to the Zopfli algorithm which is used to shrink PNG and gzip files without needing to introduce a new format.

The benefit of using Guetzil, aside from the reduction in image size and barely-noticeable changes in image quality, is that the files it turns out remain compatible with existing browsers, image processing programs and the JPEG standard itself. Guetzli focuses on compression at the quantization stage as that is where more visual degeneration of the image occurs.

In the examples above, you can see the uncompressed original image on the left, libjpeg in the middle and Guetzli's result on the right; notice how Google's solution has less ringing artifacts in both examples.

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There's no shortage of JPEG compression tools on the market, of course, and many of them are arguably easier to use than Guetzli is at the moment. That may seem like a deal-breaker but because of how well it performs in the quality department, Google feels the slower compression time is a worthy trade-off.

For Google's Guetzli speed boost, researchers developed a test called Butteraugli created to model human vision. However, Google said that images that use Guetzli are preferred visually over images that use libjpeg-based compression.

Slower compression is likely to be an insignificant factor for desktop design environments, but has far bigger usage and resource ramifications for the millions of process threads which run every day over the internet, converting selfies, food shots and other user-generated content into optimised formats for viewing.

JPEG files are one of the most commonly used and popular image file formats in the world.

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