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Google's WebM Gets HW Acceleration

Now we are learning that it may be pushing WebM and Theora much more aggressively than previously thought. The WebM blog recently announced hardware video acceleration support for the format, which could position WebM as a equal alternative to H.264.

The VP8 hardware decoder IP has been made available to chip manufacturers for integration in hardware. Google claims that the format supports VP8 up to 1080p at 30 or 60 fps. Since the video is offloaded to a graphics chip, "you can run 720p or even 1080p video conferencing at full framerate on a portable device with minimal battery use," Google said. According to the company, more than 20 hardware partners have already licensed the technology and first chips with WebM hardware acceleration support are expected to be released during the first quarter of this year.

This should be an interesting year for video formats. It appears that Microsoft will throw its weight behind H.264, while Opera and Mozilla openly welcomed Google's move to drop H.264. Mozilla's Robert O'Callahan said that Google's bold move should reduce the pressure on the company as it has to scramble for a free H.264 license. However, Digital Society's George Ou speculated that Google could simply be "angling" for a free H.264 license by threatening to drop the format. However, with announced WebM hardware acceleration support, it appears that Google in fact will be trying to force WebM into the market.                 

  • Von Death
    This is good leverage move for Google who can afford to be it's own master, but this is one of the reasons cross-system compatibility will always be an issue especially in areas like codec distribution; a technology constantly leaping forward in bandwidth and resource efficiency.
  • This will be interesting... competition is always good, as they say, so if WebM can do all of this, and for free... then go for it. I was a fan for Ogg for a while anyway.

    I still feel the main reasoning here is mainly out of spite for Apple (the holder of the H.264 standard if I recall - don't quote me I can easily be wrong) for saying "nay-nay!" to flash (Flash being the main platform google's advertisers launch from...) so it's interesting to see...

    Of course this is my own conspiracy theory and like most conspiracy theorists I'm probably insane.
  • @xiromisho
    Apple uses H.264 (like many other companies including Google's Youtube), but MPEG LA licenses it.

    I think this is a great step for the open source community. It will be very interesting to see how strongly Google feels about this. It will be interesting to see if they ever even consider dropping h264 from youtube.
  • rpgplayer
    well acceleration is one thing, now they just need quality.
  • cruiseoveride
    Google and Mozilla, please kill flash!
  • alyoshka
    Now this is going to call for an already low supply of bandwidth to go up beyond reasonable proportions.... ain't it???
  • georgeou
    Great, 1 million devices down, another few billion to go before it reaches the level of H.264. Then there's the other problem of VP8 being inferior to H.264 video quality.

    Can we stop dreaming that Google will kill H.264? It's a bluff and a strategy to harm Apple iOS by derailing HTML5. Google has already made it clear that the current Flash and Silverlight H.264 support in Chrome is *important* ( All they're doing is derailing HTML5 H.264 support in Chrome which makes the case for migrating to HTML5 weaker. That in turn harms Apple which locks out Flash and Silverlight and only supports HTML5 video on the web.
  • Silmarunya
    rpgplayerwell acceleration is one thing, now they just need quality.
    And in what way is WebM lacking in quality?

    H.264 is in no way better and is a closed source, royalty charging format. Plus, flash requires Flash Player, a piece of software that has no alternatives and is the greatest unpatched security hole ever (and I'm taking IE 6 and Safari into account here too).
  • georgeou
    "And in what way is WebM lacking in quality?"

    Read Eugenia's expert commentary. That lady knows her stuff about video.
  • dman3k
    georgeou"And in what way is WebM lacking in quality?"Read Eugenia's expert commentary. That lady knows her stuff about video.'s my expert cross-examination:

    When Eugenia said that WebM needs to be substantially better than H.264 to succeed, she's missing a lot of points. First of all, WebM is no less or more in quality than H.264. Now that's being said, she wants it to be vastly more in quality for it to win this format battle. She's obviously forgetting marketing power. Let me name a few examples where products won although it is not any better and in some ways vastly inferior but they won anyway due to marketing power. Apple iPod, Toshiba VHS, Sony Bluray, Microsoft Windows 3.1...

    Google has that marketing power.

    My second argument now is that WebM is vastly superior format to H.264. Sure, video/audio quality is better in some instances and worse in some instance which makes it quality comparable, it's the fact that WebM is free-source (not open-source). It's already got HW-acceleration decoders in less than a year. Now we await the HW-acceleration encoders. So to say that companies doesn't want to support WebM due to slow decode/encode is very short sighted.

    And to bash the hope of WebM killing flash or silverlight, guess what? Someone could easily make a WebM flash player or a WebM silverlight player because WebM is free-source - and someone could make it even more HW-accelerated.

    H.264 could end this mess by going free themselves. So why put a date on it? The current date is 2016. That kind of "renewal process" means that MPEG-LA wants to eventually charge people for H.264.

    WebM is free forever.