XvMC To Support More Video Standards?
Written by Michael Larabel in X.Org on 24 February 2008 at 03:04 PM EST. 4 Comments
While the XvMC (X-Video Motion Compensation) extension is reliable for offloading MPEG video decoding to the GPU, its limitation is that it only supports MPEG video formats and nothing more. We had expected XvMC not to be around much longer, since Intel has been devoting resources in creating a new video extension for X.Org. This new video work of Intel's is known as VA-API, or Video Acceleration API, and is still quite early in development. VA-API, however, will be able to handle offloading more tasks along with support for all of the latest video standards (MPEG-4, H.264, VC-1, etc). VA-API is not based upon XvMC but is written from scratch.

While VA-API will eventually prevail, it appears that Intel isn't yet ready to bring VA-API on full-force and that there is still life left to XvMC with another revision. During Keith Packard's X.Org talk at FOSDEM 2008, while talking about 2D, 3D, and video APIs, he had on his agenda bringing more video standards support to XvMC then merely MPEG. VA-API wasn't mentioned at all during this talk. It turns out that Intel at least still sees life left in XvMC as VA-API still has plenty of work to be accomplished and this new extension will take some time to be adopted. In the meantime, it looks like we'll see XvMC advancements for video playback improvements under Linux. Eventually, however, VA-API will prevail and become the new standard.

With it looking like there is still some new blood left in the X-Video Motion Compensation extension, perhaps this will force NVIDIA to re-evaluate their decision of dropping XvMC support for the GeForce 8+ series. Likewise, perhaps this will encourage AMD to finally deliver XvMC support into their fglrx Linux driver. XvMC support for recent Intel IGPs is available in an xf86-video-intel XvMC branch.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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