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Cisco Open-Sources H.264 Codec, Pushes WebRTC

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  • Cisco Open-Sources H.264 Codec, Pushes WebRTC

    Phoronix: Cisco Open-Sources H.264 Codec, Pushes WebRTC

    Cisco announced this morning their plans to open-source their H.264 codec under a BSD license and make it available free for all. Cisco is open-sourcing their H.264 codec without assessing any fees in an effort to push H.264 for the WebRTC real-time communication API...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=MTQ5OTM

  • #2
    I'm not sure it means what I think it means.


    If it does, it's (very) good for the short and midterm, but in the long term VP9 for the web is better cause for mid and lower quality it dramatically reduces bandwidth compared to h264, we only need to wait like 7 years until video cards with VP9 hw acceleration become common.
    Last edited by mark45; 10-30-2013, 10:43 AM.

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    • #3
      Is this just a promise or it's legally secure? They can say "we aren't evil", but act like bastards later as many other corporations do. Anyone remember Google Talk and the Hangouts transition?

      MPEG LA mafia technology isn't something to trust about, anyway...

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      • #4
        Originally posted by phoronix View Post
        Phoronix: Cisco Open-Sources H.264 Codec, Pushes WebRTC

        Cisco announced this morning their plans to open-source their H.264 codec under a BSD license and make it available free for all. Cisco is open-sourcing their H.264 codec without assessing any fees in an effort to push H.264 for the WebRTC real-time communication API...

        http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=MTQ5OTM
        If I read this correctly, its like telling W3C... yeah, come on, accept H.264 and then everyone can come to our website and download a binary executable from our website to use it!

        So, Cisco would have to in practice compile one binary for every platform in existence and keep them all up to date? Great way to drive traffic to their website I guess.

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        • #5
          Can someone explain like i'm 5 what does it means? We already have an open source implementation of h264 : x264 and it's also the best implementation of h264. I thought that you have to licence the binaries to the MPEGLA to be able to distribute them.

          So Cisco is offering to pay for the other to be able to compile their h264 implementation or are they just giving their binary blobs for free?

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          • #6
            H.264 is old anyways!

            Better use H.265, VP9 or Daala instead.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by triune View Post
              If I read this correctly, its like telling W3C... yeah, come on, accept H.264 and then everyone can come to our website and download a binary executable from our website to use it!

              So, Cisco would have to in practice compile one binary for every platform in existence and keep them all up to date? Great way to drive traffic to their website I guess.
              I'm confused about this binary stuff as well, as the title clearly suggests it will also be open-sourced.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mark45 View Post
                I'm not sure it means what I think it means.


                If it does, it's (very) good for the short and midterm, but in the long term VP9 for the web is better cause for mid and lower quality it dramatically reduces bandwidth compared to h264, we only need to wait like 7 years until video cards with VP9 hw acceleration become common.
                Or less until OpenCL GPU decoders become available. Most current Graphic cards support OpenCL.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by uid313 View Post
                  H.264 is old anyways!

                  Better use H.265, VP9 or Daala instead.
                  None of those have hardware acceleration on current hardware. More to the point, none of those are refined enough and ready for widespread use. H.264 is the best choice for the next several years because it "just works" with the hardware that is in use now.

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                  • #10
                    LWN already had the story. What those guys figured was: If you download the source code yourself, and compile it yourself, you are in the same position as compiling x.264 (no patent protection). If you download the binary they provide, you are covered by their patent license and dont need to worry.

                    From Mozilla's blog post about the release:

                    Cisco is going to release, under the BSD license, an H.264 stack, and build it into binary modules compiled for all popular or feasibly supportable platforms, which can be loaded into any application (including Firefox). The binary modules will be available for download from Cisco, and Cisco will pay for the patent license from the MPEG LA. Firefox will automatically download and install the appropriate binary module onto each userís machine when needed, unless disabled in the userís preferences.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ericg View Post
                      LWN already had the story. What those guys figured was: If you download the source code yourself, and compile it yourself, you are in the same position as compiling x.264 (no patent protection). If you download the binary they provide, you are covered by their patent license and dont need to worry.
                      Patent absurdity at its best... But a welcome workaround

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                      • #12
                        Is Cisco the only holder of H.264 patents? I thought there is a whole cartel of those.

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                        • #13
                          So now we're going to rely on a binary blob from Cisco for WebRTC? Thanks but no thanks. It's important that WebRTC standarizes on a fully open source and royalty free codec which can be ported and supported everywhere, currently that is vp8/vp9.

                          Now if MPEGLA were to make h264 royalty free for everyone then that would be another thing entirely.

                          This announcement is simply MPEGLA's attempt to prevent WebRTC to standarize around VP8/VP9, and Cisco is a h264 patent holder and part of the MPEGLA so this is not an altruistic move by any means.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by XorEaxEax View Post
                            So now we're going to rely on a binary blob from Cisco for WebRTC? Thanks but no thanks. It's important that WebRTC standarizes on a fully open source and royalty free codec which can be ported and supported everywhere, currently that is vp8/vp9.

                            Now if MPEGLA were to make h264 royalty free for everyone then that would be another thing entirely.

                            This announcement is simply MPEGLA's attempt to prevent WebRTC to standarize around VP8/VP9, and Cisco is a h264 patent holder and part of the MPEGLA so this is not an altruistic move by any means.
                            Indeed! And what a convenient way for NSA to include some backdoors in those binaries. You are downloading binaries instead of source, you can't check whether they correspond to the published source.

                            Let's just use VP8/VP9 with Opus for WebRTC.

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                            • #15
                              On the other hand, this seems to mean that ubuntu and other distros can now include a gratis h264 codec in their non-free repositories, that anyone can install and use.

                              Although I'm a fan of VP8/VP9, this seems like a big win, considering most modern video is in h264.

                              Edit: Note the extra implied advantage that Firefox will now have h264 in linux, bringing it to feature parity with Firefox on Windows/OSX and with Chrome.

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