Hardware WebM video decoder design released

As low-power devices like netbooks and tablets become increasingly popular, the need for hardware-accelerated web video playback becomes more apparent. High-definition Flash can bog down more powerful systems than one might expect, and Adobe took its sweet time implementing hardware acceleration. The folks behind the open and relatively new WebM video format are being a little more aggressive. As Engadget notes, the WebM dev team is already offering graphics chip makers everything they need to implement a hardware decoder for the format's VP8 video codec.

According to WebM, 20 partners have licensed the decoder tech. Chinese semiconductor firm Rocketchip even has a hardware implementation ready. And there's more goodness to come. The WebM team is planning to release a hardware design for a VP8 encoder in the first quarter of this year.

WebM is backed by Google, whose Chrome browser is set to drop support for the competing H.264 video codec. According to Google's Chromium Blog, H.264 is being cut out of Chrome to focus resources on "completely open" codecs. WebM qualifies, as does the Ogg Theora codec, which is currently supported. H.264 isn't an open standard, although the MPEG LA firm that handles its licensing announced in August (PDF) that royalties will not be charged for H.264 content that is made available free to users.

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