Thursday, March 29, 2012

WebM Gaining Momentum in Hardware

Hardware product cycles are very long, especially from the software developer’s perspective. However, in just under two years after the launch of the WebM Project, the leading chip vendors are bringing to the market full hardware support for VP8 real time and streaming video decoding and encoding at 1080p resolution.

In addition to the K3V2 application processor from Huawei and the RK30xx application processor from Rockchip announced at the Mobile World Congress 2012, ST-Ericsson has also finished developing a new platform with full VP8 support. “Working with the WebM team, ST-Ericsson is proud to demonstrate the first prototype devices using the NovaThor L9540™, a complete LTE platform for smartphones and tablets equipped with a high-performance application processor,” said Itai Dadon, Smartphone Business Development at ST-Ericsson. “The NovaThor L9540 incorporates a dual-core CPU, a powerful graphics engine and optimized multimedia accelerators in a high-performance, low-power solution which is fully geared for 1080p 30fps video playback of WebM on HTML5”.

And this is just the beginning. Many more of the world’s top semiconductor companies are also shipping 1080p VP8 capable mobile chipsets later this year.

In addition, Smart TVs with full HD WebM support are coming to the market from LG Electronics this spring, with other OEMs following soon after that. These will demonstrate in their big screens the HD quality of WebM videos by sites such as YouTube, which has been broadly supporting WebM in its html5 player since the launch of WebM in May 2010.

The overall goals of the WebM Project are broader than just getting hardware support for VP8. We’ve worked hard to make the usability of VP8 hardware accelerators in devices as straightforward as possible by leveraging widely adopted industry standard interfaces. Software developers can now easily take advantage of this extra horsepower, as we’ve achieved our goal of getting VP8 included in the recently released OpenMAX IL 1.2 specification. OpenMAX IL is used to access the video accelerators in some of the most popular operating systems today.

WebM hardware acceleration is now quickly emerging on chipsets and we expect to achieve rapid adoption of WebM acceleration on new devices in the coming year.

Aki Kuusela is Engineering Manager for the WebM Hardware Team.

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