Google to Open-source VP8 for HTML5 Video

263 Comments

Google (s GOOG) will soon make its VP8 video codec open source, we’ve learned from multiple sources. The company is scheduled to officially announce the release at its Google I/O developers conference next month, a source with knowledge of the announcement said. And with that release, Mozilla — maker of the Firefox browser — and Google Chrome are expected to also announce support for HTML5 video playback using the new open codec.

Google has controlled the VP8 codec ever since it finalized the acquisition of video codec maker On2 Technologies in February. When reached for comment as to its plans, a Google spokesperson told us the company had “nothing to announce at this time.”

The move comes as online video publishers are gravitating toward standards-based HTML5 video delivery, bolstered in part by the release of the iPad. However, that acceptance has been slowed by the fact that the industry has yet to agree on a single codec for video playback, with some companies throwing support behind Ogg Theora and others hailing H.264 as the future of web video.

Google’s YouTube, Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Internet Explorer 9 and Apple (s AAPL) — through its iPad, iPhone and Safari browser — have all thrown their weight behind H.264, which many believe provides superior picture quality and playback to the Ogg Theora codec. However, a few organizations — including Mozilla — refuse to support H.264 due to potential licensing issues. Whereas Ogg Theora is completely open source, the H.264 codec is managed by licensing body MPEG LA. Even though MPEG LA announced in February that it was extending its royalty-free licensing for web video using H.264 through 2016, that was little consolation for Mozilla and others that are committed to supporting open standards.

The result is a divide between which video format can be viewed in which browser. H.264-encoded HTML5 video can be viewed in Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome and in the upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser from Microsoft. Meanwhile, Ogg Theora playback for HTML5 video is supported by Firefox, Chrome and Opera.

Google hopes to stem that divide by making VP8 open source, providing a high-quality and open alternative to existing codecs. On2 first announced VP8 in late 2008, promising more efficient video compression than other available codecs. At launch, On2 went so far as to claim that it could provide “50 percent bandwidth savings compared to leading H.264 implementations.”

Google’s plans to open-source the codec have been widely expected ever since it announced plans to acquire On2 in August 2009, and speculation intensified after the deal closed. The acquisition even led the Free Software Foundation (FSF) to urge Google to kill Flash by open-sourcing the VP8 codec.

While an open-source VP8 could end concerns about H.264’s licensing issues and Theora’s quality, questions still remain about whether Google can provide a video standard on which everyone can agree. Microsoft only recently announced support for H.264 for HTML5 playback, and has never been quick to adopt open standards. And Apple, which has been the driving force behind HTML5 video and H.264 playback on the iPhone and iPad, might not be keen on the idea of switching up its codec support on those devices anytime soon.

Related content on NewTeeVee: Google TV: Another Reason Open Sourcing VP8 Matters

Related content on GigaOM Pro: What Does the Future Hold For Browsers? (subscription required)

263 Comments

Thierry

I think that HTML5 video will win because it is both for browsers and mobile. I agree with Mark that if this new Open Source Codec allows cost savings for youtube, Google will push it and make de facto a standard.

Cost savings for youtube must be a great issue when you think about the TB they stream every single day !

edd

“The result is a divide between which video format can be viewed in which browser. H.264-encoded HTML5 video can be viewed in Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome and in the upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser from Microsoft.
Meanwhile, Ogg Theora playback for HTML5 video is supported by Firefox, Chrome and Opera.”

Guess what? Google wins in any case. :) :)

Mark

If Opera, Firefox and Chrome all went VP8, and Youtube went that way too, then Safari and IE would have no choice but to adopt it.

TarMil

There is no doubt about Opera, Firefox and Chrome including VP8 if it is opened. The true question here is Youtube. Is Google dedicated enough to this opening to transcode their petabytes of H.264 videos ?

Somebody

You don’t think that google has enough processing power?
You don’t think that google transcodes ON THE FLY?
You aren’t actually of the opinion that the various “quality” settings refer to distinct files stored on their servers, do you?

No, of course not.

Google very likely stores their videos RAW and transcodes them to whatever format they need at the moment.

Spencer

In the spirit of Apple’s latest licensing decisions, I think Google should explicitly prevent Apple from making use of VP8. It’s not evil if they hold Apple to their own standards, and as Apple pointed out – all the brouhaha surrounding them recently is strictly about standards.

Brian Lesser

The “die Flash” comments don’t seem appropriate – especially in this context. If you want almost everyone to be able to view VP8 encoded video in the near term, the best way to accomplish that would be to ask Adobe to build it into the Flash player. In little over a year it would be available to almost everyone. We’ll see what Google announces at Google I/O.

Charbax

Yup, logically Adobe will include VP8 “Ogg Theora 2.0” in Flash, just as they include VP6 in Flash at the moment.

Somebody

Definitely NOT a good idea to use flash.

First off, you will note that flash is NOT a video player. It is a CPU hungry murderer of small children and furry animals. Videos to be handled by flashplugin are NOT just video files — they have to be packaged SPECIFICALLY FOR flash.

A more intelligent method of distributing videos is DIRECTLY IN THE EMBED TAGS.

EMBED SRC=”path/to/videofile.extension” HEIGHT=heightpx WIDTH=widthpx

And that’s all it takes.
ANY video player plugin (like mplayerplug-in) will be able to handle ANY video in ANY package embedded in ANY HTML like that.

It is just as easy to add a browser plugin that handles strictly embedded videos as to install a flash player.

It is also much more freeing to use a generic video player plugin. For example, you can use the mplayer-plugin with a mozilla browser to provide H.264 AND VP8 embedded video support RIGHT NOW!!!!

Just drop your video file (literally ANY kind of video file) into an embed tag RIGHT NOW, and the mplayer-plugin will handle it. No need for messy CPU and MEMORY hungry and crash prone adobe garbage.

The objective of this video tag is to build STANDARDIZATION into the BROWSER’s ability to play videos.

That means DITCH the adobe!

Mike

So in the (near) future if we want to publish video on the web without using Flash we would need to encode two files: one H.264 and one VP8. Then using detection we could switch the url depending on the browser, but the UI/player can remain the same.

It’s two steps forward (no more Flash, jay) and one step back (two codecs remain).

I say let’s go for it!

Somebody

No, all you would need to do is support STRICTLY VP8!
If the user’s browser can’t deal with it, tell them their browser maker is wrong and is intentionally limiting their rights, and refer them to a REAL browser (and give more than one option so that you don’t appear to be taking favorites).

Mark

Amazing. However, I think the critical point will be whether they switch YouTube over to VP8. Apple/MS may be reluctant to adopt open codecs, but if the primary video site on the web uses it, they’ll have to support it.

yochai

I have to say — if they switch OFF flash support on youtube, causing millions of 15 year old boys using IE to go nuts because IE7 and IE8 don’t support HTML5 and IE9 doesn’t support any decoder other than h.264, then by god, all they have to do is put a link to google chrome or firefox and bam! the userbase of these browsers should skyrocket (faster than it already is).

Reality

Uh, no.

Millions would simply tune out of YouTube because it no longer works.

There are simply too many options on the web.

David Koch

Quite frankly, I could not be more happy about this. Anything that could bring death to Flash has me smiling broadly.

Whether the end winner will be VP8 or H.264 is not really the issue here but the fact that both will be open and free (Libre). Whichever wins, Proprietary Codecs lose and that can only be a good thing.

Will be interesting to see how this pans out and what strategies will follow to boost the respective market share of these two. As long as the consumer wins, I will be happy.

Somebody

I’ll take the option that flies in the face of MS any day. If THEY like it, there MUST be a REASON, and you can bet that it will limit your freedom since that is the MS way.

Paul Eccles

Yes, that is the problem. VP8 doesn’t look as good as (x.264 encoded) H.264. x.264 is just the best encoder right now, and getting better all the time. VP8 isn’t implemented in any hardware, whereas H.264 is decoded in hardware by all iPods, iPhones and many other devices.

Frank Earl

Uh, you do realize that most of the “hardware” decode of h.264 happens to be done in DSPs?

Somebody

Frank Earl: Would you please drop dead? This nonsense you are spewing is totally incorrect.

DSP is an EXTREMELY general term. IT DOES NOT INDICATE whether the device can be used for general processing, or whether it is or is not PROGRAMMABLE.

In general, the DSP used in any particular device for decoding video (like H.264) is NOT GENERIC. That means that you CAN’T REPROGRAM IT to decode a new kind of video!!!

Which IS one of the strengths of another option you have mentioned; SHADER BASED DECODE ACCELERATION (regardless of whether it is implemented directly [preferred] or through GPGPU as YOU seem to like).

HOWEVER programmable shaders are only useful for a SUBSET of video decoding stages, NOT INCLUDING THE EXTREMELY TAXING CABAC STAGE of H.264 decoding. CAN YOU SAY FOR CERTAIN that VP8 doesn’t have something like CABAC that won’t play nicely on programmable shaders?

DID YOU KNOW that programmable shaders are power hungry monsters right up there with CPUs? For example, nvidia’s latest flame thrower draws HUNDREDS OF WATTS — MORE than any CPU I’m aware of!!! Look it up if you don’t believe me.

Eric

VP8 doesn’t look as good as (x.264 encoded) H.264.

What is your source? I can’t find any third-party quality comparisons involving VP8. The only comparison I could find was On2’s own comparison (possibly biased), where VP8 comes out ahead of x264-encoded H.264.

http://www.on2.com/index.php?603

In fact, I am unable to even find any publicly-available VP8 encoders, decoders, or videos, making me wonder what you base this on.

From what I have seen, VP7 was at least close in quality to that of H.264 to the point that differences would be barely noticeable to most people, so I would not be surprised if VP8 surpassed current implementations of H.264. (Unfortunately, I can’t find any independent comparisons involving VP7, either, despite the fact that the codec is available.)

melgross

The problem is that VP8 doesn’t look as good as H.264.

I’m also willing to bet that H.264 will be license free forever. MPEG LA should just get it over with now, and commit to it. They know they will have to at some point.

Frank Earl

Actually, you’d lose that bet.

They’ve not done license free on anything else indefinitely- there’s always been someone come a knocking for their money on anything the MPEG group has fielded- at least as long as the patents were valid.

g

If I were Google… at this point, I’d drop H.264 support in Chrome… then you have Firefox and Chrome ~ 31% of the browser market supporting a royalty free codec = VP8. Convert all of YouTube over to VP8… double whammy! If Google wants this to be the default codec for all of us, it WILL happen and teh microshits and fupples cant do anything about it!

Somebody

31%?

Firefox is at 46.2% by itself.
Combined, Firefox+Chrome make 58.5%.

http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp

(note: you can argue against the numbers I present as much as you like. Just be aware of this: YOUR source is no more credible and therefore every argument you use against MY numbers ALSO applies against YOURS.)

Clement

Apple’s Safari is credited with 4% or 5% of the browser market as of April 2010. I don’t see why Apple’s opinion should matter that much.

Bachus

85 million iPhone OS devices. Apple has over 65% of the share for mobile browser usage, and Apple won’t support a codec that doesn’t have a hardware decoder.

Frank Earl

Considering that they don’t use a “hardware” decoder but a DSP on the iPhone…

Somebody

Your numbers are WAY off.
Apple may still be #1 browser usage, but that’s sitting at a whopping 42% with Android (Google) second up at 40% and gaining like a freight train running down a family of retarded gophers.

And be aware that 85 million is a very misleading number. That number includes ALL of the devices that have spontaneously self-desctructed, all warranty replacements, all devices destroyed by act of accident, worn out, owner HATED it (with good reason), obsolete, etc.

The ONLY important number is HOW MANY ARE USED REGULARLY? — and that number will be MUCH lower than 85 million.

Hamranhansenhansen

The issue is not just what the Web or tech companies support. There is a hardware H.264 decoder in every consumer electronics device because it’s the ISO standard. Camcorders make it, iPods play it, video editors edit it, video encoders all encode it. H.264 is essentially a disc-free DVD. It is also the video that’s wrapped up in Flash. YouTube and iTunes are made out of it. It’s in PC GPU’s, it enables netbooks and set-top boxes to play HD video. Smartphones and iPods only play H.264, they do not have PC-style huge CPU’s.

It’s great that Google did this, because it means H.264 will likely remain free of charge for use on the Web after 2016 (it’s already free until then), but VP8 is not going to replace H.264.

Frank Earl

Considering that most of that gear actually doesn’t have dedicated hardware but rather DSPs (because they need to support much more than just h.264 and it’s not the same tasks for MPEG1/2 or MPEG4 (and you’d need special silicon for each of these, and gear shifts for them to select, etc…)- it is MUCH less of a concern than you’d think. Seriously.

Erik Martino

VP8 may be used for high resolution movies on Youtube and H264 for crappy resolutions. That means mobile phones will see an acceptable quality but the Ipad w/o VP8 will not.

Diego L Espiñeira

Much of the MPEG4 spec is based on Apple’s work on their current Quicktime technology. There’s a lot of work from Apple in the spec, so I don’t think Apple are anywhere near adopting another codec that’s not h264.
By the other hand, ON2 was the company Sun Microsystems made a partnership with to bring a good quality video codec to JavaFX. I wonder how things are going to be now that Sun’s been absorbed by Oracle and ON2’s been absorbed by Google. Do they will honor the previous Sun/ON2 agreements? Well, if the VP8 codec is released as OSS then JavaFX is going to be quite benefited with the ARM port. Or is it Google thinking on getting JavaFX to Android? Just imagine… Android TVs (I saw one of those already), TVs with JavaFX on it (I remember Sony on the last JavaOne conference before the Oracle take over.

Bruce

“Much of the MPEG4 spec is based on Apple’s work on their current Quicktime technology. There’s a lot of work from Apple in the spec…”

I would like to see a citation for that. And by “MPEG4” do you mean MPEG-4 AVC (i.e. H.264) or do you mean all the MPEG-4 levels? I’ve never seen anything that broke down what percentage of the H.264 royalties Apple can claim.

Bruce

The link provided by Grover Saunders does not say what you think it says. .mp4 is a container format for MPEG-4, and that is what the article claims was based on Quicktime. It makes no claim about Apples percentage of IP in the much more important MPEG-4 AVC codec. That’s what would be interesting to see.

Anonymouse

“There is no hardware decoder”, “What does MPEG-LA has to say”. Why does MPEG-LA have to sign off on anything. Last time I checked, this was VP8 made by ON2. If MPEG-LA had an issue with VP8, it would have done something by now. The same goes for OGG/Theora. And the fact that Google is releasing the thing OSS, says a LOT. An organization with a law team the size of Texas won’t stick its neck on the line unless it was sure.

There were no h.264 hardware support when h.264 first was released. If VP8 decodes better than h.264 on a plain processor, then there is a little reason to worry about hardware support in the short term.

Matthew Fabb

Mobile devices and a growing number of desktop browsers and Flash are providing better performance with H.264 using hardware decoders. Users aren’t going to want to take a step back, with choppy video on mobile devices and netbooks, while it drains their much battery faster because video is all on the CPU. Desktop users see lower CPU and great playback for wonderfully high def video files.

Also the benefit of H.264 codec is that it can be used for mobile devices supporting the HTML5 video tag and also the Flash Player, for desktop browsers, a majority of which don’t use browsers that support the HTML5 tag.

passerby

“drains their much battery faster because video is all on the CPU”

Begging the question, aren’t we?

Frank Earl

Ahem…

All one has to do is write a decoder for the codec for the specific DSP the platform is running. There isn’t any magic special “hardware” decoding on the iPhone, Droid, etc. In the case of those specific phones there’s a TI DaVinci class DSP or Qualcomm’s equivalent in the SoC doing the task.

Please, stop using this as a line of thought- it’s NOT at all correct.

Mike

Here’s a note from On2’s website:

“A major VP8 design goal was to simplify the decoding process for one of the world’s most ubiquitous microprocessors: the ARM 9. To that end, we invested considerable development effort in producing a decoder that would work well for ARM.”
(http://www.on2.com/index.php?605)

So it seems that this may not need dedicated hardware decoding, as some commenters have worried above.

Matthew Fabb

The link you provided mentions how great VP8’s decode is, apparently better than H.264. So it does have a hardware decoder and hardware companies need to start including the decoder in their hardware for software companies to start using hardware accelerated video. For mobile devices, it’s not just important for smooth video on low-end CPU’s but also for battery usage. For desktop machines, it means playing HD video really smoothly with very little CPU.

Mike

Thanks, that helps me understand the overall situation a bit better.
So given the high turnaround rate on mobile devices (especially), could these decoders conceivably show up next year? At least, assuming that several browsers’ support can be scrounged up first..

oldbluekid

VP8 IS NOT ogg theora, nor an improved version of it.
VP8 is a NEW codec. With google’s push on it, it’ll become number 1 codec probably in about 2 years. I’ll be good for all of us. Thank you Google. I thought you weren’t listening to your users, but i was wrong. God save the google!

toolman

The problem is that this codec has the same problem as Ogg: no hardware decoder.

Without that, mobile phones have to use power hungrgy CPU, or fail due to lack of power.

Frank Earl

Again… Most of the “hardware” decoders you see aren’t in hardware, but utilize a separate DSP dedicated to the task of handling decode. Seriously.

And it’s not hard to have “hardware” assist even from desktop GPU cards in the form of a GPGPU thread or two doing DSP stream processing.

Brett Morgan

Can we stop conflating IP and Open Source?

Just because a company releases the source to something doesn’t mean they have licensed all players to use the IP that protects said source code.

Frank

Was this the rationale for the On2 acquisition to begin with?

Matthew Fabb

Very cool. However, it’s my understanding that it’s going to take quite a few years before hardware will provide efficient decoding for VP8 as found in H.264. Mobile devices with slow CPUs depend on using hardware accelerated video. Also HTML5 video on Safari on a Mac, HTML5 video on IE9 and Flash Player 10.1 (only on Windows right now) all get smooth HD video playback thanks to using the GPU. In all 3 cases they can use the GPU because there’s a H.264 decoder in the hardware. It could take a few years for VP8 to be offered in hardware to get that same GPU performance found with H.264 and then the wait for people to upgrade their hardware.

Frank Earl

Much of the “hardware” decoders are DSP cores programmed to do the task. Each and every one of the “media” or “smart” phones utilize a DSP on their SoC to do the video and audio decode tasks. Ditto much of the media players. It’s cheaper and easier to support multiple codec formats (MP3, WMA, MPEG1/2, MPEG4, h.264, etc- they’re all differing in what “hardware” really means- unless you use a DSP and do the “hardware” in a specialized stream processor.) with a DSP than doing it with discrete parts. There’s component aspects that might lie within the GPUs of desktop machines, but in truth, you can just as easily (and they’re beginning to do it in the Linux space…) dedicate a GPGPU thread or two to doing DSP work- and do it there as well.

“Lack of hardware support” is more of an excuse than much of anything else- it’s not valid for a large range of devices that this would be relevant for, including all those iPhones, Droids, etc.

Joe Nobody

Just because something is open source doesn’t mean it’s free from patent issues. What does the mpeg-la say about VP8?

Plus, if Apple doesn’t support it then it doesn’t really matter. Seems like everything will be h.264 no matter what anyone else tries.

Joe.

Josh

This is the key point. h.264 can be “open source” too — there are reference implementations, and of course x264. It’s the patent licensing that hinders adoption, not the unavailability of source code.
With h.264, the patent costs are high but knowable (at least for the next few years). Ogg Theora may be unencumbered by patents, but until it’s adopted by someone with deep pockets who would be a good target for a patent troll or MPEG-LA, its patent status is uncertain.
As far as VP8 goes, we’ll have to see how things unfold in terms of patents.

Frank Earl

That, my friend depends on a handful of things.

VP3’s been about for a while.
VP8’s not been so much so, but enough for what I’m going to get to here.

If you delay on dealing with an “obvious” infringement, you risk not being able to enforce against that specific infringer. The term in legalese is “Laches” which is latin for delay. Just because it might be covered, doesn’t mean that MPEG-LA, or the rights holders they represent, can enforce against the implementation at this time. It’s definitely too late for them on Theora’s score- years have passed and no court will buy they didn’t know about it. VP8 might have issues, but equally unlikely as the key pieces are under their OWN patents, just like VP3 was.

Out in the open and nobody’s spoke up. If it’s long enough (and it has been for Theora and most likely with VP8 as well)- that spectre has no force whatsoever.

Now, Apple can do what they so choose- but if YouTube doesn’t go with h.264 and goes with VP8/Theora, then there’s LITTLE that Apple can do about that other than cut their nose off to spite their face.

anon

“Microsoft only recently announced support for H.264 for HTML5 playback, and has never been quick to adopt open standards.”

Adopting an open standard like the HTML5 video tag is the hard part. Plugging in additional codecs is probably a breeze.

This likely doesn’t have to be an either or for any browser maker.

Flash didn’t drop Sorenson Spark (h.263) when they added VP6 and they didn’t drop VP6 when they added H.264. Flash also contains a Screenshare codec that is much lower quality than any of those others but is still extremely efficient for screencasting.

The same holds true for audio. Speex isn’t nearly as high quality as AAC, but it’s got size and latency advantages that make it kick AAC’s ass for VoIP. And guess what? Flash includes both.

Different codecs have different quality, size, and cpu features. No one codec will solve every problem and the overhead of carrying an extra “free” codec is minimal.

Microsoft should just add Theora and VP8 to their H.264 plans. Apple should follow suit.

Yuvamani

“Plugging in additional codecs is probably a breeze.”

Technically yes. Politically ? That too a google OWNED standard ? Will Big Apple Brother ever look above the spite ?

Robin

Good. To me, this has two potential, positive outcomes for the majority of the “netizens”: killing Flash on the web-based video/audio playback scene, and making Theora useless in favor of something better (and everything is better than Theora).

fungos

Are you sure? Don’t come with your lame affirmations if you do not prove. You must be a very biased person or very frustrated. So sorry about you thinking.

Grover Saunders

Wow, you really showed him how to post a reasoned and fact-based past. It could have shortened to “So’s your face.”

Gabe

This is big. The release and success of this open-source codec could potentially kill Ogg Theora.

Esteban

Was Ogg Theora ever alive?

It never got any major attention, and if it weren’t for Mozilla backing it, it would have remained in the dark.

Charbax

This is Ogg Theora 2.0 basically. Ogg Theora is based on On2 VP5 codec, Ogg Theora 2.0 would be based on the On2 VP8 codec.

Glitchd

Just wanted to correct a slight error there, Charbax. Ogg Theora is based on On2 VP3 codec, not the VP5. VP3 was released to the public domain back in 2002.

I totally agree with you that the open-sourcing of VP8 won’t be the end of Theora since I’m sure they’ll take the code and build on it like the built on VP3.

Peter Potrowl

Yes, implementing VP8 as Ogg Theora 2.0 would be an excellent idea.

One of the websites that use Ogg Theora the most is Wikimedia Commons. It is the only video codec allowed there.

Frank Earl

Uh… You DO realize that this is merely the latest generation in the class of codecs that Theora came from, namely VP3?

Kenneth Pardue

This seems like it’ll only be really great news if hardware acceleration, specifically for mobile, also comes with it. That seems to be where the biggest news in video is these days, and that’s where there’s a HUGE uphill struggle against h.264. Apple’s got to get on board behind this codec as much as Google may be.

passerby

If it came down to a scrap between Apple and Google, on past form I really wouldn’t fancy Apple’s chances.

garbeam

Hardware acceleration is overrated, and the whole discussion about low end devices is a bit pointless, considering that each handset nowadays is a lot faster than bleeding edge PCs 10 years ago. As long as Moore’s law remains intact and batteries are advancing at same speed so far, there is no real need for hardware accelerated VP8. The Apple fanboys always tried to spread this hw accel fud in order to have an excuse for h.264…

Charbax

All video decoding on consumer electronics and smart phones has got to be hardware accelerated. It’s not just a processing issue, it’s also a power consumption issue. Dedicated hardware acceleration for video is the only way to decode and encode 1080p with under 1W of power consumption, perhaps even lower than 0.5W power consumption. Which is amazing considering an Intel powered Desktop PC consumes often over 100W in power consumption.

I think Google must be planning the hardware acceleration accordingly and provide free codecs for that to all manufacturers of consumer electronics.

Kenneth Pardue

It actually is a big deal, because video at the quantity of Youtube can’t just be turned around and scrapped. Youtube has contractual deals to uphold H.264 videos with not only Apple and the iPhone, but also Tivo and a whole class of set top boxes. I’m sure such deals are for a reasonable lifetime of the product.

I don’t think anyone is trying to make an excuse for h.264. It’s currently the best of line codec. Outside of Apple, it’s pretty much the standard that most all professional videography toolchains are based on. It’s built into Windows 7. A vast bulk of consumer camcorders support it natively. It’s one of the premiere codecs supported in Bluray. It’s supported in Flash. And many of those devices do have hardware acceleration as a major benefit. Like it or not, the industry has settled on H.264, even if the web hasn’t.

I’ll be first in line to start supporting a royalty-free and license-free codec that’s not h.264, given that it meets or exceeds the quality bar set by h.264. I’m looking forward to it. I think that’s a powerful and wonderful incentive for an open web, and I’m thrilled at the possibility. But everyone’s got to be on board with it, including Microsoft and Apple. Otherwise, it’s not an open standard. It’s an open political grandstanding game, which is where we find ourselves now with Theora vs. H.264. Right now, H.264 happens to meet more of those needs than anything else. Time will tell what VP8 will become, and I’m excited to see it become something important.

Sherman, the Ramni

@garbeam: You obviously don’t understand hardware acceleration and its importance for the new generation of low-end devices (netbooks, smartphones, etc.).
@Charbax: CUDA and OpenCL will fill that gap real quick, trust me.
@Kenneth Pardue: No one cares about Microsoft’s opinion. They only follow the current trend. Apple and MPEG-LA are the only ones that can pose a serious barrier, but 2 against the great majority of video-on-the-Web players? No royalties until 2016 vs. no royalties FOREVER? A total curbstomp.

Kevin

@Kenneth, your definition of an “open standard” requires Microsoft and Apple to be in on it?? I don’t think that would fly with the ISO…

Kenneth Pardue

I’m not talking about ISO sanctioned standards, I’m talking about practical standards. If Apple and Microsoft aren’t on it, then it’s not standard for the web. I haven’t used Internet Explorer for nearly 6 years and rahter loathe it, but I do still recognize that they’re 60% of the market. Firefox+Chrome is what, 28%? Like it or not, that’s significant.

Kevin

Ah. Then the sentence should’ve been “otherwise it’s not a de facto standard”, not “otherwise it’s not an open standard”.

It’s an important difference.

Christopher Webber

I spoke to a few of the Theora people at Libre Planet and asked them about hardware acceleration since apple/h.264 fanboys always seem to bring it up. They indicated that there’s nothing stopping someone from hardware accelerating Theora, companies just aren’t doing it.

Frank Earl

Considering that many of the mobile devices aren’t using specific hardware and using advanced DSP’s to do the decoding (Each and every one of those iPhones and Android phones don’t HAVE dedicated h.264 hardware, they’ve got a TI DaVinci class DSP in them (Anything with an OMAP2/3 that does media has one…)) this is a specious argument. Much of the space doesn’t do dedicated h.264 or MPEG2 hardware except at the low-end of the spectrum- mainly because they’ve got so many differing tasks that it’s actually cheaper to just use a DSP on the SoC.

Bruce

Wow, that is pretty major. I did not think Google would actually go ahead with making VP8 open source, but it will surely have a big impact.

Nonetheless, major questions still remain. How good will VP8 actually prove to be in widespread application? Will MPEG-LA make good on their threats to enforce H.264 patent claims against Ogg Theora now that it could be a real contender? Can an improved Ogg Theora really do anything at this point to slow down the momentum of H.264 adoption in hardware?

It will be very interesting to see.

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