Difference Between MPEG and MPEG4

Certain factors play a vital role in the history of digital video, images, graphs. MPEG and MPEG4 are two compression technologies that compress videos, graphics, and audio. After compression, these media can be stored and transferred to electronic gadgets (computers, smartphones, tablets, laptops). MPEG and MPEG4 media are not only small and light, but they also deliver high-quality content to users.


The main difference between MPEG and MPEG4 is that MPEG is the oldest standard that was established in 1988. On the other hand, MPEG4 came into the market after a decade in 1998. Moreover, MPEG4 is the fourth and updated version of the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) that was created by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).


MPEG stands for Motion Picture Experts Group, a standard for accessing compressed audio, motion graphics, and movies and was developed by two international organizations. Furthermore, it is an excellent standard for storing and sharing large files in compressed form, which takes less space on our devices and takes less time to transfer.

MPEG4 is the upgraded version of MPEG. It is one of the well-known compression techniques of MPEG which came into existence in 1998. MPEG was limited to compressing videos on CDs. However, one can compress video in DVDs (Digital versatile disc) and BD (Bluray discs) with the MPEG4 standard compression algorithm.

Comparison Table Between MPEG and MPEG4

Parameters of ComparisonMPEGMPEG4
Release YearMPEG standard was released in 1988.MPEG4 standard was released in 1998.
CompatibleMPEG is for compressing media on compact discs.MPEG4 is for compressing media on DVD and BluRay.
Portable MediaMPEG media’s quality is inferior while transferring.MPEG4 delivers superior media when transferred from one device to the other.
File FormatThe file format of MPEG media is mpg.The file format of MPEG4 media is mpg4.
Size MPEG media has a larger size than MPEG4 so, MPEG is not a good choice for online streaming.MPEG4 media has a smaller size and is suitable for online streaming.

What is MPEG?

MPEG is an acronym for moving picture experts group that was established in 1988 for setting the standards for motion pictures. MPEG is a standard created for compressing the media for easy transfer and storage.

ISO and IEC are two international groups that are behind this compressing algorithm. The algorithm used for compressing media is the Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) which relies on reducing the bits of the motion media while transferring and later could be decompressed.

In addition, multiple MPEG versions (MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG3, MPEG4, MPEG7) have been released over time with improved algorithms. The file format used for MPEG is .mpg for storing and transferring the files.

The first standard of MPEG supported file resolution up to 352 x 240 pixels with 30 frames per second (fps) which has inferior quality even than the VCR. However, the quality of the media has been ameliorated with each new version.

It was most commonly used for compressing the data of CD. The original version of MPEG does not support DVD and BluRay compression. Moreover, it is not suitable for portable digital media.

However, it transfers non-interlaced videos( progressive scan for reducing fading on the monitor screen) which, are not of high definition as HD standardization of motion media started after the creation of MPEG3.

What is MPEG4?

MPEG4 means the fourth version of the motion picture expert group. It is one of the best standardization techniques, but it is a subset of the MPEG algorithm. This version came into the market in the year 1998 after the invention of high definition standards.

It was founded by International Organization for Standardization (founded in 1947) and International Electrotechnical Commission (founded in 1906). Both the international founders have headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

MPEG 4 has the features of both MPEG1 and MPEG2. Moreover, it has better compression algorithms than MPEG2. MPEG4 works on the technology of manipulating objects rather than bits for compression.

As a result, unlike MPEG files, the quality of the videos or graphics does not degrade after compression and decompression. The interframe and intraframe compression techniques are both used to improve quality.

The frame size can be 8 x 8 and 16 x 16. MPEG4 provides both quality and compressed size. Due to that, this standard is the best to upload media online by consuming less space and net data. Moreover, this standard is also suitable for smart devices (digital TV, mobiles, laptops).

MPEG4 is a highly renowned standard technique for delivering great graphics in the gaming sector. High-definition streaming over the internet also has MPEG4 standards. The file format for all MPEG 4 files is mpg4. MPEG4 can be regarded as the evolution in digital media.

Main Differences Between MPEG and MPEG4

  1. MPEG came into the market in 1988. On the other hand, MPEG4 came into the market in 1998.
  2. MPEG standard algoritm is a superset for all MPEG version. However, MPEG4 is one of the versions of the original MPEG.
  3. MPEG standard algorithm compresses the bits of the media. On the contrary, MPEG4 standard algorithm compresses the objects of the media.
  4. The MPEG standard is not a good standard technique for online streaming and gaming. However, the MPEG4 standard is suitable for online streaming and gaming for better quality.
  5. The file format of the MPEG file is mpg. On the other hand, the file format of the MPEG4 file is mpg4.


MPEG standard algorithms were an excellent revolution in the late 20th century when digital media and smart devices were emerging in the world. ISO and IEC joined hands in 1988 and came up with motion picture expert groups. It is an initiative of two experts (Dr. Hiroshi Yasuda and Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione).

With time, many versions of MPEG were released with upgraded compressing and decompressing techniques for better quality and tiny size. As MPEG is based on bit reduction techniques, the quality of media files degrades when compressed.

However, after a decade, the fourth version of MPEG has invented that used object reduction technique for compression of the media and delivered high-quality results.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ftRvA08WcM4C&oi=fnd&pg=PR19&dq=mpeg+and+mpeg4&ots=l_7jHXIrOx&sig=NQ6zyw8zXFRnRi7XRnAJrKlgHrM
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0923596597000039
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