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Intel Considers Hardware Acceleration For Google's WebM Format 139

CWmike writes "Intel is considering hardware-based acceleration for Google's new WebM video file format in its Atom-based TV chips if the format gains popularity, an Intel executive said on Thursday. Announced last Wednesday at Google I/O, WebM files will include video streams compressed with the open-source VP8 video codec, which was acquired by Google when it bought On2 Technologies in February. 'Just like we did with other codecs like MPEG2, H.264 and VC1, if VP8 establishes itself in the Smart TV space, we will add it to our [hardware] decoders,' said Wilfred Martis, a general manager at Intel's Digital Home Group."
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Intel Considers Hardware Acceleration For Google's WebM Format

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  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:22PM (#32371736)

    According to their page AMD, ARM, nVidia, MIPS, Marvell, TI, and Freescale are all onboard. That leaves pretty much just Intel and Analog Devices as the only two major chip makers for various devices that haven't cast in. If they can get widespread hardware support, it means that devices will likely have WebM acceleration by default, simply due to the chips they use. That being the case, enabling software support for it makes good sense.

    I think it has a real shot at becoming the streaming media standard. H.264 is likely to remain the high quality standard for video because it is used on Blu-ray and a good deal of recording devices, but WebM could well take over streaming. While it isn't as high quality per bit, it is good enough (after all, VP6, its predecessor is used in a good deal of Flash video) and free is hard to say no to. If devices support it in hardware, then there you go.

    Have to see how things shake out, but I'm optimistic. There's a large base of support for it in all the right areas. Only real thing that could sink it is a successful patent lawsuit. However I believe Google when they claim they've evaluated it before and after purchasing On2 and they are confident. I think it is likely that if VP8 infringes on any patents, it infringes only on ones that they can find prior art for, and that they may also have some patents of their own they can hit back with.

    Here's hoping. Not only would a completely free format be good various uses, but its existence should force MPEG-LA to keep H.264's licensing terms reasonable.

  • by frinkster ( 149158 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:35PM (#32371806)

    My point is that by the time Google and their partners could get this into widespread use, H.264 is going to be in even more widespread use than it is now.

    If Google wanted to really compete, the time to do it was a few years ago. It's too late now. The only way to stop H.264 is to come out with a codec that makes H.264 look like bloated garbage. This isn't such a codec.

    Anyway, that's my opinion. I would love to be proven wrong - I don't really want to have to start paying royalties in 2015.

  • by cynyr ( 703126 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:53PM (#32371916)
    how about your phone? your TV? your bluray player? thats right, TV's + phones + blueray players > laptops(and some of those have that broadcom crystalHD card thing in them)
  • by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <> on Friday May 28, 2010 @12:12AM (#32372024)

    You simply can't make a modern video codec without treading on someone's patent any more, and this is no exception.

    Yes, that's the MPEG's assertion. However, your comment implicitly asserts that Google is tremendously stupid. Even Google's biggest detractors can't reasonably make that claim.

    Google is pushing the format pretty hard. And after all, they bought On2 in the first place. And, considering they must have a truckload of lawyers who specialize in software patents, they'd know if they had a timebomb on their hands. They sure aren't acting like it, which leads me to believe that they think they can make a very good case that it's patent free.

    As for the format itself, it's certainly inferior to h264 - but I'll take slightly larger size/worse quality for patent free any day of the week.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @12:29AM (#32372126)

    There is a good chance that it is gone too far already but considering the company pushing this codec and their ties to the internet and marketing muscle in general, I wouldn't be so quick to count them out yet.

    Remember, google is starting to release their own channel along with the fact they own YouTube and a host of other services, all of which I am betting will be migrated over to this format all of which is supposed to be supported in the new HTML setup they are going for. Face man, they are like the new Microsoft of the internet minus all the evil stuff they did to their customers.

  • Re:Nice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday May 28, 2010 @12:36AM (#32372154)

    However, it is patent encumbered. Therefore, you would expect a rational competitor to do the following: Copy h.264 as closely as possible in all unpatented respects, or respects where patents can be worked around. Nobody is giving you any extra credit for re-inventing the wheel

    The problem here is that H.264 licensors are industrial giants like Mitsubishi Electric.

    Philips. Samsung. LG. Fujitsu. Hitachi, NTT...

    It's easy to forget that H.264 is a broadcast standard:

    NTT Electronics has produced the world's first High 4:2:2 Profile HDTV/SDTV encoder/decoder. With outstanding flexibility through its support of both the MPEG-2 and AVC/H.264 video compression formats, the HV9100 series fits any situation in this period of transition between any formats. HV9100 series []

    The geek sees the web and the cell phone. But this battle is playing out on a much larger stage.

  • by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <> on Friday May 28, 2010 @12:52AM (#32372226)

    Google gains nothing by releasing an inferior codec under the same restrictions. After all, if you need the MPEG patents, why not just use MPEG4?

    I imagine they're working up to it. More specifically, they're probably fishing for a lawsuit so they can prove that it's kosher.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @01:20AM (#32372346)

    I don't think there is actually a _single_ h.264 hardware component that could be directly reused for a vp8 decoder. Maybe if you designed your motion compensation engine with a lot of filter flexibility it could be reworked for vp8 without too much work... but really, in engineering "similar" is not the same as "the same". For the reuse of pre-existing parts "the same" is what counts.

  • by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Friday May 28, 2010 @04:23AM (#32372982)

    This only needs to get to be the current GIF vs PNG situation and it's enough. There are still GIFs on the internet everywhere. They will never go away. However, nobody needs to put new content in GIF format because PNG is available everywhere. GIF licensing fees are now taxes on stupidity and help to mean that IP supporting companies become ever less competitive.

    That means that the entire television industry, which is locked into H.264 will become less competitive against the internet / Google / web / open access type companies. This is the reason why the MPEG-LA is desperately spreading FUD. Hint; if you know that there's a patent which is essential to a particular existing standard there is absolutely no reason not specify exactly which patent it is out loud. If you don't do it you risk losing money for accusations of bad faith. If these people really knew which patent it was, then they wouldn't say they had it (admit they've done that analysis) without specifying exactly where the breach was. The very fact the MPEG-LA says there are patents but won't specify which shows that there actually aren't any.

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