x264 Video Codec is a free application for encoding video streams into the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format.
MPEG-4 is a broad Open Standard developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), a working group of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) which also did the well-known MPEG-1 (MP3, VCD) and MPEG-2 (DVD, SVCD) Standards, standardizing all sorts of audio/video compression formats and much more
By its nature, the MPEG-4 Standard doesn't aim at standardizing one potential product (e.g., something comparable to DVD) but covers a broad range of Sub-Standards, which Product Providers can choose from to follow, according to what they need for their product.
The AVC/H.264 standard defines four different Profiles: Baseline, Main, Extended and High Profile:
Baseline Profile offers I/P-Frames, supports progressive and CAVLC only
Extended Profile offers I/P/B/SP/SI-Frames, supports progressive and CAVLC only
Main Profile offers I/P/B-Frames, supports progressive and interlaced, and offers CAVLC or CABAC
High Profile (aka FRExt) adds to Main Profile: 8x8 Intra prediction, custom quants, lossless video coding, more yuv formats (4:4:4...)
x264 Video Codec Features:
Intra: all macroblock types (16x16, 8x8, and 4x4 with all predictions)
Inter P: all partitions (from 16x16 down to 4x4)
Inter B: partitions from 16x16 down to 8x8 (including skip/direct)
Ratecontrol: optional VBV, single or multipass ABR, constant quantizer