Intel Could Add WebM Hardware Acceleration

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Intel (s INTC) could add Google’s (s GOOG) WebM to the list of video formats that have hardware acceleration built into its processors for consumer electronics devices, according to a report from ComputerWorld. But that support won’t come in time for the first generation of Google TV products to leverage it.

As part of its WebM Project, Google released its VP8 codec with an open source, royalty-free license at its I/O developers conference last week. Along with that announcement came a list of partners, including hardware and chip makers that plan to support the WebM initiative. But surprisingly, despite the fact that rivals AMD, ARM and NVIDIA all were named as partners, Intel was not on that list.

Intel’s omission from the list of chipmakers backing WebM is even more surprising, considering that its chips will be used in the first generation of Google TV products sold by Sony (s SNE) and Logitech (s LOGI). That means that HDTVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes that are launched later this year won’t have native support for the WebM video format.

Consumer electronics devices with Intel chips will be able to process WebM videos with software, but embedding it into the hardware could make videos encoded in the open source format really fly. Lack of hardware acceleration in those devices will come as a disadvantage against H.264, which has strong hardware support from Intel and others.

While Intel has yet to add WebM support to its chips yet, Wilfred Martis, general manager for retail consumer electronics at Intel’s Digital Home Group, told ComputerWorld that the chipmaker could add support for the open video format later. “Just like we did with other codecs like MPEG2, H.264 & VC1, if VP8 establishes itself in the Smart TV space, we will add it to our [hardware] decoders,” Martis said.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: Google TV: Overview and Strategic Analysis (subscription required)

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