H.264/MPEG-4 AVC products and implementations

H.264/MPEG-4 AVC products and implementations

Prominent software implementations

*Adobe Systems supports the playback of H.264 in Adobe Flash 9.x. They also support export and output of H.264 in Premiere Pro version CS2 (shipped in 2005). In latest version, Premiere Pro CS3 (shipped in 2007), direct export of H.264 encoded Blu-ray disc is also supported.

*Apple Inc. has integrated H.264 into Mac OS X version 10.4 (Tiger), as well as QuickTime version 7. The encoder conforms to Main Profile. The decoder supports Baseline, Extended, and most of Main Profile. [cite web|url=http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=102609|title=REAL Ultimate Guide to x264 and QuickTime!!! - Doom9's Forum|accessdate=2007-04-15] QuickTime 7 is also now available for Microsoft's Windows operating system. Apple's iChat video conferencing software uses H.264, as does its latest version of DVD Studio Pro. DVD Studio Pro allows for the burning of HD DVD content to both standard DVDs and HD DVD media. Apple's Compressor can also encode in H.264 format.

* BT Group offers a modular implementation of H.264. Written in C/C++, it has been ported to various platforms from PCs to mobile phones. All 4:2:0 profiles (Baseline/Main/Extended/High) are supported. [cite web|url=http://www.btplc.com/Thegroup/Technologylicensing/Videocodec.pdf|title=BT H.264 codec]

* Intel provides various licensing options on their implementation of an H.264 (amongst others) encoder/decoder as part of their Integrated Performance Primitives package, which includes an evaluation source code download.

* MainConcept H.264/AVC SDK offers encoding and decoding in all profiles and levels supported by the standard. MainConcept also offers a stand alone encoding app.

* Sorenson offers an implementation of H.264. The Sorenson AVC Pro codec is available in Sorenson Squeeze 4.1 for MPEG-4.

*x264 is a GPL-licensed H.264 encoder that is used in the free VideoLAN and MEncoder transcoding applications and, as of December 2005, remains the only reasonably complete open source and free software implementation of the standard, with support for Main Profile and High Profile. [cite web|url=http://www.videolan.org/x264.html|title=VideoLAN - x264|accessdate=2007-04-15] A Video for Windows is still available [http://www12.atwiki.jp/lunatilia/pages/70.html here] . x264 won an independent video codec comparison organized by Doom9.org in December 2005. [cite web|url=http://www.doom9.org/index.html?/codecs-final-105-1.htm|title=Doom9.net - The Definitive DVD Backup Resource|accessdate=2007-04-15] Program-pack called Gordian Knot uses x264 to encode ripped DVD video material.

*The LGPL-licensed libavcodec by FFmpeg includes a H.264 decoder. It can decode Baseline Profile, Main Profile and High Profile video. It is used in many programs like in the free VLC media player and MPlayer multimedia players.

*CoreAVC by CoreCodec is a highly optimized commercial H.264 decoder. According to independent tests by people on the Doom9.org forums, it is the fastest software decoder as of June 2006. The standard version supports Baseline Profile, Main Profile and High profile, except interlaced video. The professional edition supports both PAFF and MBAFF interlaced video beginning from version 1.1. The professional edition also supports speedups on SMP capable systems.

*Nero Digital, co-developed by Nero AG and Ateme, includes an H.264 encoder and decoder (as of September 2005, corresponding to Main Profile, except interlaced video support), along with other MPEG-4 compatible technologies. It was updated in 2006 to support High Profile.

* Vanguard Software Solutions provides H.264/AVC Encoder and Decoder SDKs for most of the commonly used platforms as well as DirectShow solutions for Windows. Live video streaming is the main target.
* [http://www.sonic.com/products/Professional/CineVision/quicklook.aspx Sonic Cinevision]
* [http://www.cc-hde.com Cinema Craft HDe]
* [http://www.tvooks.com Siway] Technology developed high quality with very low bitrate H.264 technology on PC/DSP encoding/decoding products for video applications by real time codec and online streaming application.

Prominent hardware implementations

Decoding

Several companies are mass-producing custom chips capable of decoding H.264/AVC video. Chips and cores capable of real-time decoding at HDTV picture resolutions include these:
* Broadcom BCM7411, BCM7401, BCM7400, BCM7403, BCM7405, BCM7325, BCM7335, BCM7043, BCM7412
* Horizon Semiconductors provides a family (Hz3120, Hz3220, Hz4120, Hz4220, Hz7220) of multi standard HD decoder SoC solutions for Cable, Satellite & IPTV set-top boxes, HD DVD/Blu-ray boxes and DTV.
* Conexant CX2418X
* Micronas DeCypher DHM8100A [cite web|url=http://www.micronasusa.com/products/by_function/decypher_dhm8100a/product_information/index.html?backurl=%2Fhomeusa%2Findex.html|title=Micronas DeCypher DHM8100A DeCypher DHM8100A High Definition Multi-Format Decoder SoC Product Information|accessdate=2007-04-15]
* NXP PNX1702, PNX8950, PNX8935 based on TriMedia Technology
* Sigma Designs SMP8654, SMP8634, EM8622L, and EM8624L
* STMicroelectronics STB7100, STB7109, NOMADIK (STn 8800/8810/8815/8820 series)
* Texas Instruments TMS320DM642, TMS320DM643x, and TMS320DM644x DSPs based on DaVinci Technology (except for 1080i/p)
* 4i2i Communications has implemented a complete HDTV capable High Profile decoder IP core that will fit onto an inexpensive FPGA device. [cite web | url=http://www.xilinx.com/publications/xcellonline/xcell_56/xc_pdf/p070-073_56-alpha.pdf | title=High Definition, Low Bandwidth. Implementing a high-definition H.264 codec solution with a single Xilinx FPGA. | author=4i2i and Alpha Data | date=January 1, 2006 | publisher=Xilinx | accessdate=2007-02-06]
* Imagination Technologies Ltd. licensable IP cores for SoC development. VXD-370 HD Decoder H.264 with Baseline, Main and High Profile support up to Level 4.1 (50 Mbit/s). Also decodes VC-1 (WMV9), MPEG-4, MPEG-2, JPEG.

Such chips will allow widespread deployment of low-cost devices capable of playing H.264/AVC video at standard-definition and high-definition television resolutions.

Many other hardware implementations are deployed in various markets, ranging from inexpensive consumer electronics to real-time FPGA-based encoders for broadcast. A few of the more familiar hardware product offerings for H.264/AVC include these:
* ATI Technologies' graphics processing unit (GPU), beginning with the Radeon X1000-series, feature hardware acceleration of H.264 decoding starting in the Catalyst 5.13 drivers.

* Beyonwiz have products with full advanced functions of dual HD PVR.

* NVIDIA has released drivers for hardware H.264 decoding on its GeForce 8 Series, its GeForce 7 Series and some GeForce 6 Series GPUs. [cite web|url=http://www.nvidia.com/page/purevideo_support.html|title=NVIDIA PureVideo - Product Comparison|accessdate=2007-04-15]

* Micronas announced MicRacer a hardware H.264 decoding PCIe add-in card reference design. [cite web|url=http://www.micronas.com/products/application/MicRacer/index.html|title=Micronas H.264 decoder with DeCypher DHM8100A PCI Express (MicRacer 1D-X)|accessdate=2007-04-15]

* Apple's 5th Generation iPod can play H.264 Baseline Profile up to Level 3 with support for bit rates up to 1.5 Mbit/s, image resolutions up to 640x480, and frame rates up to 30 frames per second. This device also plays MPEG-4 Part 2 Simple Profile video, up to 2.5 Mbit/s, 640x480 pixels, 30 frames per sec. Additionally, video of up to 720x480 (NTSC DVD) encoded in the iPod compliant H.264 profile may be viewed on the device; if transferred with an iTunes alternative. Playback at full DVD resolution does not require any firmware modification to the iPod.

* The Sony Playstation Portable features hardware decoding of H.264 video from UMD disks and Memory Stick Pro Duo flash cards. The device supports Main Profile up to Level 3 with bit rates up to 10 Mbit/s from the Memory Stick [cite web|url=http://www.jp.playstation.com/psp/pdf/RSSChannel-J_330.pdf|title=RSS Channel Contents Creation Guide 3.30] , and as of firmware version 3.30, supports video files up to a resolution of 720x480.

*The Microsoft Xbox 360 features a separate HD DVD drive that plugs into the console via USB that can play back HD DVD discs, which includes HD DVD discs using the H.264 codec.

* The Microsoft Xbox 360 will receive stand-alone H.264 decoding in the Spring Dashboard Update to be released on May 7th. [cite web|url=http://www.xbox.com/en-US/community/news/2007/0408-im.htm|title=Xbox.com - Xbox News - Instant Messaging Comes to Xbox 360|accessdate=2007-04-15] The Xbox 360 will play H.264 video files up to 10 Mbit/s peak in 1080p (H.264 Level 4.1) high profile and audio up to 2 channel AAC LC. [cite web|url=http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=6870|title=Daily Tech - Xbox 360 to Support H.264 and MPEG-4 With Spring Update|accessdate=2007-04-12]

* The Sony Playstation 3, which can work as a Blu-ray movie player, is able to play Blu-ray movies encoded with the standard H.264 codec. It can also play H.264 MP4 files up to 1080p (Level 4.1) main profile, as well as AVC-HD format DVD (An implementation of H.264 for Sony/Panasonic/JVC DVD camcoder).

* The Symbian S60 OS supports H.264. Certain models of LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and SonyEricsson mobile phone can play back H.264.

Encoding

Fujitsu has announced a 1080i encoding/decoding IC that will be introduced in March 2007, priced at 120 USD. The chip will be produced in a 90 nm process and will support High Profile Level 4 (up to 25 Mbit/s). [cite web|url=http://www.fujitsu.com/global/news/pr/archives/month/2006/20061130-01.html|title=Fujitsu to Release H.264 Format Video-Processing LSI Chip Supporting High-Definition and Low Power Consumption : FUJITSU|accessdate=2007-04-15]

Horizon Semiconductors has developed a family (Hz3120, Hz4010, Hz4120) of single-chip HD codec, decoder, and transcoder products that support H.264, VC-1, MPEG-4, and MPEG-2 in resolutions up to 1080p @ 60 fps. Horizon's SoC solutions integrate an audio codec, an HD display processor, CPU, 2D/3D graphics accelerator, a high-bandwidth transport processor, CA/DRM unit, video pre-processor, and a wide variety of advanced connectivity and peripherals. Horizon's ICs are designed in accordance with world-leading secure processor architectures, enabling complete content protection in compliance with numerous Conditional Access and Digital Rights Management schemes.

The DMS-02 media processor from 3DLabs promises to encode D1 video stream (BT.601 216 Mbit/s) at 30 fps [cite web|url=http://www.3dlabs.com/content/newsReleases/PR28NOV06A.asp|title=3Dlabs - Pioneering Media Processors|accessdate=2007-04-15] (equivalent to High 4:2:2 Profile, Level 3).

Ambarella has unveiled single chip platforms that encode/decode 1080p60, 1080i60 and 720p60 video. [cite web|url=http://www.ambarella.com/news/press_releases/pr_09102007.htm|title=Ambarella : AMBARELLA UNVEILS INDUSTRY'S FIRST SINGLE-CHIP 1080P60 "FULL HD" BROADCAST ENCODER PLATFORM]

VITEC Multimedia [ [http://www.vitecmm.com VITEC Multimedia ] ] is offering with VMC-5400, a broadcast quality AVC Main Profile real time encoder. The board is a standard PMC mezzanine card for PC and CompactPCI platforms.

Aspex Semiconductor [ [http://www.aspex-semi.com Aspex Semiconductors - Q :: Home ] ] has announced [ [http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Articles/2007/05/02/41296/Aspex+targets+parallel+processor+at+Blu-ray+DVD.htm Aspex targets parallel processor at Blu-ray DVD - 02/05/2007 - Electronics Weekly ] ] a single-chip High Profile 1920x1080 HD Encoder, derived from its professional studio-quality board level products.

Elgato Turbo.264 hardware encoder for Mac OS X connects via USB 2.0 and presents itself as three QuickTime components. Although intended for Elgato's EyeTV software, it will work with any software on Mac OS X using the QuickTime framework, such as Final Cut. The maximum resolution supported is 800x600.

[http://www.mobilygen.com Mobilygen's] [http://www.mobilygen.com/default.asp?contentID=21 en-ViE] family consists of two products to address a range of H.264 Codec requirements. The MG2500 is an entry level SOC supporting dual SD encoding or up to 1280x720p30 HD encoding. The MG3500 Codec supports HD encoding at resolutions up to 1920x1080i60. In addition to an advanced H.264 Codec there is an MPEG2 decoder and a JPEG Codec which will also support MJPEG applications.

[http://www.starvedia.com/products_VS316m.html StarVedia's VS316m video server module] is a tiny 4x4cm board which can convert analog NTSC or PAL composite video signal to an ISMA compliant signal: MPEG-4 over RTSP.

Transcoding

Horizon Semiconductors provides a multi-standard native 1080/60p Transcoder (Hz4010) for the triple-play/quad-play Cable, Satellite and IPTV Set-Top Box, Digital Video Recorder and Home Media Center, Blu-Ray/HD DVD player and recorder, iVDRs, place shifting boxes and location-free TV.

RipCode has developed a unique video transcoding solution for internet and mobile video content owners with large video libraries. RipCode products support H.264, MPEG-4, WMV, H.263, MPEG-2, and popular containers such as MP4, FLV, and 3GP.

ee also

* H.264/MPEG-4 AVC
* List of devices that support H.264/MPEG-4 AVC
* [http://www.ripcode.com/prodForm.php 2007 IDC Report on On-Demand Video Transcoding]

References


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