Intel Considering VDPAU Support For X.Org Driver
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 8 February 2009 at 05:02 AM EST. 5 Comments
In addition to learning that Intel's UXA acceleration architecture will live on in its current form, there were a few other interesting bits of news reported as well during the X.Org talks at FOSDEM 2009. During Eric Anholt's talk some video playback/decoding improvements were discussed.

For its xf86-video-intel driver, Intel is still working on adding support for more codecs to XvMC along with possible support for offloading VLD to the GPU during MPEG-2 decoding. Extending XvMC was first talked about a year ago at FOSDEM and then again during the X Developers' Summit, but as of yet no code has been publicly committed.

In addition to support for offloading more codecs / operations, Intel is also working on migrating the X-Video Motion Compensation code to using their Graphics Execution Manager for the (in-kernel) memory management needs.

Perhaps what was most interesting, however, was confirmation that Intel is also exploring other possible video frameworks beyond XvMC. Intel has mentioned that they are looking at VA-API and VDPAU in particular. From their cursory examination, the API to VDPAU looks nice. Our VDPAU benchmarks on NVIDIA hardware has been very positive and allows HD video playback on very cheap hardware.

NVIDIA's proprietary Linux driver is the only X.Org driver right now implementing the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix. Among the media applications supporting VDPAU are MPlayer, FFmpeg, MythTV, Xine, and VLC Media Player. There is also a VDPAU back-end for VA-API.

When it comes to VA-API, this video acceleration API is actually being developed by Intel for mobile devices. VA-API support can be found for MPlayer and FFmpeg support, but currently the only driver implementing this API is the Intel Pouslbo driver found on a few select netbooks/nettops. The Poulsbo driver though is a bloody mess.

Seeing Intel's open-source driver implement VDPAU support would be a great addition. Intel isn't too interested in Gallium3D video decoding or any universal video decoding that uses the GPU's shaders. The trouble with a hardware-independent decoding method is that it will not be tuned for power optimization compared to a hardware-specific design.

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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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