VIA has launched an updated version of the Xine media player that supports hardware acceleration engines in two of its northbridge chips. VIA enhanced Xine Player (VeXP) version 3.0 supports hardware-based MPEG-2 decoding in VIA's CLE266, and MPEG-2 and -4 decoding in VIA's newer CN400.
According to VIA, VeXP 3.0 and the accompanying source code make it easier for software developers to implement MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 hardware acceleration in Linux-based “personal electronics” devices based on VIA chipsets. The package supports the following formats: MPEG-2/DVD, CCDA, VCD, MP3, RealMedia, WAV, and MPEG-4/DIVX.
VeXP is supplied as source code that can be built on a variety of modern Linux distributions, provided that binary-only graphics drivers supplied by VIA have been installed. VIA has decided to maintain its graphics drivers as binary releases in part because of the complexity of working directly with the decoding engines integrated with its C-series northbridge chips.
VIA media liaison Fiona Gatt explains that unlike the MPEG decoders in DVD/STB chips from Sigma Design and others, the VIA decoders do not support file and network streaming. Instead, they accelerate sub-functions of MPEG decoding. Thus, working with them requires a very deep understanding of MPEG processing. “Every request for the full source is handled on a case by case basis but we have found that there are no developers who have the necessary knowledge and time to develop a player that makes use of the decoder. This is why VIA developed the VIA Enhanced Xine Player. Separate to that, there are some companies developing proprietary Linux-based software with the support of VIA,” stated Gatt.
VIA spokesperson Justin Hsu added, “We are helping partners [develop] smart Personal Electronics devices and expedite implementation of new features and capabilities."
The CLE266 is the graphics and memory controller used in most of VIA's mini-ITX boards, including the Epia ME and the low-profile Epia MS (which targets flat-panel devices), as well as in mini-ITX boards from other manufacturers, such as the BCM Advanced Research MX266.
The CN400 graphics controller replaces the CLE266 in the newest VIA boards, adding an MPEG-4 decoder. It appears in VIA's nano-ITX board, as well as the forthcoming Epia SP (pictured above). The new build of Xine will reduce processor load by more than 50 percent on these CN400-based systems, VIA says.
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