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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.