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H.264 VA-API GPU Video Acceleration For Flash

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  • H.264 VA-API GPU Video Acceleration For Flash

    Phoronix: H.264 VA-API GPU Video Acceleration For Flash

    Splitted Desktop Systems, the embedded device company that previously wrote VA-API support for MPlayer and FFmpeg along with a NVIDIA VDPAU back-end for VA-API, has made another significant contribution to improved video playback under Linux. Splitted Desktop Systems has now implemented VA-API acceleration support within Gnash, the free software implementation of the Adobe Flash/SWF player. Gwenole Beauchesne of Splitted Desktop Systems shares that the H.264 video playback performance has improved significantly thanks to this VA-API support and with 1080p clips it's working out much better than Adobe's own proprietary Flash 10 player for Linux...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=NzU1MA

  • #2
    That's great news!
    But i'd like to see XV and SHM support in Gnash, too.

    There should be link to the Gnash project page in this news, too:
    http://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/

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    • #3
      Does it work on Intel GMA 500?

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      • #4
        I'd prefer they'd first focus on implementing Flash properly before writing GPU acceleration.

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        • #5
          really really nice, thanks!
          i really hope the open source drivers to get va api support, maybe though gallium3d?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by nanonyme View Post
            I'd prefer they'd first focus on implementing Flash properly before writing GPU acceleration.
            Those guys have just slapped Adobe in the face so hard I say it was well worth it.

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            • #7
              Depending on how this is implimented, it could completely invalidate gnash as a viable Free Software flash player.

              H.264 is heavily patented. If these acceleration API's impliment any actual decoding, then gnash wouldn't be legally distributable in countries (like the US) that recognize software patents.

              Using patent-encumbered technology intentionally is a sure bet that business users or serious distros like Fedora or Ubuntu will never include it in their base distro.

              I really hope these API's are nothing but pointers that tell the proprietary video driver to do the actual decoding, rather than doing the decoding themselves and simply using the video card (via the driver) to do the calculations.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by miles View Post
                Those guys have just slapped Adobe in the face so hard I say it was well worth it.
                Just how did they slap Adobe in the face? There's still tons of Flash content Gnash can't play at all, I'd prefer time spent on getting higher Flash version support more than hacking around with video acceleration. (who watches that high quality content over Flash anyway that this improvement matters a bit?)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by billiob View Post
                  Does it work on Intel GMA 500?
                  Does *anything* work on GMA 500? (Sorry, couldn't resist )

                  Depending on how this is implimented, it could completely invalidate gnash as a viable Free Software flash player.
                  Gnash passes the video stream to the VA-API, which either decodes in hardware, passes it to VDPAU or uses some other method to decode the video (FFMPEG?) Gnash itself shouldn't be at risk.

                  Besides, Flash itself is heavily patented. Does this invalidate Gnash as a "viable Free Software flash player"?

                  The only correct course of action regarding patents is to act as if they didn't exist (unless you are a large company that can afford its own patents or a patent troll).

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by nanonyme View Post
                    Just how did they slap Adobe in the face? There's still tons of Flash content Gnash can't play at all, I'd prefer time spent on getting higher Flash version support more than hacking around with video acceleration. (who watches that high quality content over Flash anyway that this improvement matters a bit?)
                    Adobe with all their developers, the very *creators* of flash, still hasn't managed to implement hardware accelerated video decoding in their player. A free, undermanned project managed to beat them to the punch.

                    Maybe Adobe should just scratch their proprietary player on Linux and start helping out the Gnash developers?

                    Not unexpected, given Adobe's past record, but still hilarious. Besides, this brings us one step closer getting rid of the proprietary flash player. The sooner we get there, the better for all of us (besides Adobe, I guess).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by nanonyme View Post
                      Just how did they slap Adobe in the face? There's still tons of Flash content Gnash can't play at all, I'd prefer time spent on getting higher Flash version support more than hacking around with video acceleration. (who watches that high quality content over Flash anyway that this improvement matters a bit?)
                      Speak for yourself. If you've only ever concentrated on Gnash, sure you might have your own gripe with the piece of code. If, like millions of flash users, you've been wondering why Adobe can get their act together and provide some video that doesn't hog anything less than a high end CPU, only to hear their excuses that it's too hard a problem to solve (when any media player can play 2 times more complex videos flawlessly), you'd give a bit more slack to Gnash.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by miles View Post
                        Speak for yourself. If you've only ever concentrated on Gnash, sure you might have your own gripe with the piece of code. If, like millions of flash users, you've been wondering why Adobe can get their act together and provide some video that doesn't hog anything less than a high end CPU, only to hear their excuses that it's too hard a problem to solve (when any media player can play 2 times more complex videos flawlessly), you'd give a bit more slack to Gnash.
                        Well, fine. I'm impatiently waiting for their GLSL support though so they also get some accel method for Flash games (which make a significant part of Flash content on the web).

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                        • #13
                          Gnash is getting there...

                          Gnash flash support is around Flash lite 3. Meaning it can handle AVM1, AS2 and a bit of AS3. Now all it needs for most video sites to work is AVM2 Support which fortunately they appear to be working on.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BlackStar View Post

                            Gnash passes the video stream to the VA-API, which either decodes in hardware, passes it to VDPAU or uses some other method to decode the video (FFMPEG?) Gnash itself shouldn't be at risk.
                            If that's the case, that's very good news.

                            Originally posted by BlackStar View Post

                            Besides, Flash itself is heavily patented. Does this invalidate Gnash as a "viable Free Software flash player"?

                            The only correct course of action regarding patents is to act as if they didn't exist (unless you are a large company that can afford its own patents or a patent troll).
                            It doesn't automatically invalidate it, but it certainly doesn't help. It is quite possible that Adobe has licensed its patents in a manner that wouldn't make it a violation to distribute gnash -- for example, I seem to remember them licensing Flash technology for playback purposes only, but creating software to MAKE flash content required a paid license. I tried to do some searching to find out for sure, but don't have time to do the full research right now.

                            As for patents in general -- it is irresponsible and dangerous for Free Software developers to ignore known patents. Surely one cannot know every possible patent, but there are plenty of well known patents that are actively enforced -- such as Mpeg-2 and H.264. Implimenting those technologies should only be done in a manner that can be easily seperated -- for example by releasing two source packages, one with the encumbered code, and one without (or a patch or diff, or whatever). That way the software can be used in countries without software patents with all the full features, without sabotaging it in countries like the US.

                            As you implied, there are plenty of patent trolls out there (SCO anyone?). In order for Free Software to gain widespread acceptance, businesses have to have reasonable assurance that simply using it won't leave them open to lawsuits. Sure, they could hire someone to do a patent review and gut out all of the offending code, but it would be far, far easier if developers would simply remember that not everyone can simply disregard patents as meaningless, even if they can.

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                            • #15
                              The only issue is that if you try to research which patents apply to your software and you actually get sued, you are eligible for much, much larger penalties than if you simply say "I didn't know". The result is that it's best to not search the patent database at all.

                              Businesses should use enterprise distributions (RHEL, SuSE) which are hardened against this threat. These distros don't distribute (potentially) encumbered software for a reason.

                              Of course, nothing can protect you from the likes of SCO. Sometimes, the best solution is to go ahead and hope for the best.

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