The standard includes the following sets of capabilities, which are referred to as profiles, targeting specific classes of applications:
Constrained Baseline Profile (CBP)
Primarily for low-cost applications this profile is used widely in videoconferencing and mobile applications. It corresponds to the subset of features that are in common between the Baseline, Main, and High Profiles described below.
Baseline Profile (BP)
Primarily for low-cost applications that requires additional error robustness, while this profile is used rarely in videoconferencing and mobile applications, it does add additional error resilience tools to the Constrained Baseline Profile. The importance of this profile is fading after the Constrained Baseline Profile has been defined.
Main Profile (MP)
Originally intended as the mainstream consumer profile for broadcast and storage applications, the importance of this profile faded when the High profile was developed for those applications.
Extended Profile (XP)
Intended as the streaming video profile, this profile has relatively high compression capability and some extra tricks for robustness to data losses and server stream switching.
High Profile (HiP)
The primary profile for broadcast and disc storage applications, particularly for high-definition television applications (this is the profile adopted into HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, for example).
High 10 Profile (Hi10P)
Going beyond today's mainstream consumer product capabilities, this profile builds on top of the High Profile, adding support for up to 10 bits per sample of decoded picture precision.
High 4:2:2 Profile (Hi422P)
Primarily targeting professional applications that use interlaced video, this profile builds on top of the High 10 Profile, adding support for the 4:2:2 chroma subsampling format while using up to 10 bits per sample of decoded picture precision.
High 4:4:4 Predictive Profile (Hi444PP)
This profile builds on top of the High 4:2:2 Profile, supporting up to 4:4:4 chroma sampling, up to 14 bits per sample, and additionally supporting efficient lossless region coding and the coding of each picture as three separate color planes.
High Stereo Profile
This profile targets two-view stereoscopic 3D video and combines tools from the High profile with inter-view prediction capabilities of Multiview Video Coding extension.
In addition, the standard contains four additional all-Intra profiles, which are defined as simple subsets of other corresponding profiles. These are mostly for professional (e.g., camera and editing system) applications:
High 10 Intra Profile
The High 10 Profile constrained to all-Intra use.
High 4:2:2 Intra Profile
The High 4:2:2 Profile constrained to all-Intra use.
High 4:4:4 Intra Profile
The High 4:4:4 Profile constrained to all-Intra use.
CAVLC 4:4:4 Intra Profile
The High 4:4:4 Profile constrained to all-Intra use and to CAVLC entropy coding (i.e., not supporting CABAC).
As a result of the Scalable Video Coding extension, the standard contains three additional scalable profiles, which are defined as a combination of the H.264/AVC profile for the base layer (2nd word in scalable profile name) and tools that achieve the scalable extension:
Scalable Baseline Profile
Primarily targeting video conferencing, mobile, and surveillance applications, this profile builds on top of a constrained version of the H.264/AVC Baseline profile to which the base layer (a subset of the bitstream) must conform. For the scalability tools, a subset of the available tools is enabled.
Scalable High Profile
Primarily targeting broadcast and streaming applications, this profile builds on top of the H.264/AVC High Profile to which the base layer must conform.
Scalable High Intra Profile
Primarily targeting production applications, this profile is the Scalable High Profile constrained to all-Intra use.