Quarter Common Intermediate Format


Quarter Common Intermediate Format (QCIF) is a video resolution standard often used in video conferencing and mobile displays. It refers to a screen size of 176×144 pixels, which is a quarter of the size of the Common Intermediate Format (CIF) specification of 352×288 pixels. The smaller resolution makes QCIF less resource-demanding, making it suitable for devices with less processing power and bandwidth.


“Quarter Common Intermediate Format” can be phonetically transcribed as:KWOHR-ter KOM-uhn INT-er-mee-dee-et FOHR-mat

Key Takeaways

  1. Size and Aspect Ratio: Quarter Common Intermediate Format (QCIF) is a video resolution format that measures 176 x 144 pixels. It’s a smaller format designed for devices with lower processing power and for applications that don’t require high resolution, such as video conferencing and mobile video.
  2. Reduced Data Requirements: The main advantage of QCIF is its reduced data requirements. As it has fewer pixels to encode, it needs less bandwidth and storage space than higher-resolution formats, making it more efficient and cost-effective for certain uses.
  3. Associated Standards: QCIF is part of the H.261 video codec standard, which was developed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for videoconferencing. It’s also used by other standards, such as H.263 and MPEG-1, enabling compatibility across different systems and platforms.


The technology term “Quarter Common Intermediate Format” (QCIF) is important because it refers to a video resolution standard often used in video conferencing and mobile devices. QCIF offers a resolution of 176 x 144 pixels, which is a quarter of the size of the Common Intermediate Format (CIF). This smaller resolution requires less bandwidth and produces smaller file sizes, making it ideal for low-capacity devices, slow internet connections, or when streaming across less powerful networks. While the trade-off is lower video quality, QCIF significantly improves accessibility and usability in an increasingly digital and mobile-focused world.


Quarter Common Intermediate Format, usually abbreviated as QCIF, serves a substantive role in the field of video conferencing and other digital video applications. Its primary purpose lies in the reduction of video size to fit into lower bandwidth capabilities, catering to the needs where limited resources are available or where higher resolution is not essential. This is particularly utilitarian in applications that involve mobile devices or when the internet connection is slow, allowing users to stream videos without consuming extensive bandwidth.Fundamentally, QCIF creates a video frame with a resolution of 176×144 pixels, which is a quarter size of the Common Intermediate Format (CIF) that carries a resolution of 352×288 pixels. While this could lead to low-resolution videos that may not preserve the intricacies of the original video’s details, QCIF enables a balance between quality and transferability, focusing more on the consistent transmission of data. This comes in handy for diverse use-cases like security surveillance, video telephony, and video streaming where maintaining fluent data transfer is crucial.


Common Intermediate Format (CIF) is a standardized format used in video systems to transfer and process video data. The Quarter Common Intermediate Format (QCIF) is a smaller variation of CIF, offering a resolution of 176 x 144 pixels. Here are three real-world examples of its usage:1. Video Conferencing: QCIF is commonly used in video conferencing systems. The resolution it offers is often sufficient for small screen displays or for cases where bandwidth conservation is necessary, making it practical for real-time communications where image quality is less important than speed.2. Mobile Video: Due to its lower resolution and smaller frame size, QCIF is used in many mobile applications that provide video functionality, especially those working under a 2G or 3G network. It’s ideal for mobile devices with relatively small screens and limited data capabilities.3. Surveillance Systems: For security cameras where disk space might be limited, employing QCIF can be very useful. It allows more hours of recorded video to be stored due to its lower resolution, which requires less disk space per frame. Even though the quality of the video isn’t as high, in many cases the footage is still clear enough for observing and identifying people or objects.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is Quarter Common Intermediate Format (QCIF)?A: Quarter Common Intermediate Format (QCIF) is a video resolution standard often used in video conferencing and mobile phone technology. It corresponds to a resolution of 176 x 144 pixels.Q: What is the purpose of Quarter Common Intermediate Format?A: QCIF is used to standardize the resolution for video sequences in videoconferencing and mobile devices. It helps to ensure video data can be displayed across different devices and platforms without a loss in quality.Q: What does the “Quarter” in Quarter Common Intermediate Format mean?A: The “Quarter” in QCIF refers to it being a quarter of the size of the Common Intermediate Format (CIF), a video resolution standard that is 352 x 288 pixels.Q: How is QCIF utilized in video conferencing?A: During video conferencing, lower resolution standards like QCIF are often used to save bandwidth. Since QCIF is smaller in size, the video file takes up less space and can be transmitted more efficiently over the network.Q: What is the relationship between QCIF and CIF?A: QCIF is a quarter of the size of CIF. If a CIF image is 352 x 288 pixels, then a QCIF image is 176 x 144 pixels.Q: Is QCIF used in modern technology?A: While QCIF was widely used in older mobile devices and video conferencing systems, its use has declined in recent years due to the availability of higher resolution formats. However, QCIF is still applicable in scenarios where bandwidth is a concern or where device capabilities are limited.Q: Can QCIF quality be improved?A: Since the quality of QCIF is determined by its resolution, enhancing the quality would require upscaling to a higher resolution, which may result in loss of detail. For more clear images, it’s recommended to use higher resolutions, such as CIF or VGA.

Related Tech Terms

  • Video Coding
  • Pixel Resolution
  • QCIF (Quarter Common Intermediate Format)
  • MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group)
  • Video Conferencing

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