AMD Comments On XvBA Video Situation
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 26 June 2012 at 07:27 AM EDT. 33 Comments
Last week there were XBMC developers that wrote a public message on Phoronix about AMD's problems with video playback acceleration using their Catalyst Linux driver. The developers called AMD out on their shortcomings and now today there's a response out of AMD.

When NVIDIA was responding to Torvalds' "fuck you" moment, it came out of NVIDIA's PR department. At least here in AMD's case it's actually a comment by an AMD engineer so it's just not a load of marketing fluff. In fact, it was Tim Writer of AMD that responded, one of the people responsible for AMD X-Video Bitstream Acceleration.
"MPEG-2 VLD and MPEG-4 Part2 (DivX) has been added to the driver but an update to the XvBA SDK is required to use it. H.264 Level 5.1 has been in the driver for some time but not enabled by default and the PCS key required to enable it is undocumented because of certain limitations. I will document this in the SDK update."
So there we have it and the XBMC crew was right with their rumors.... As the XBMC developers wrote in the earlier Phoronix posting, "Everytime we try to get into official contact, we are told that AMD was working on it and everything was nearly done. We are hearing this for approximately half a year now from AMD, but were never given a timeline...Our sources say that these features are implemented in fglrx since a long time, but simply not activated within the driver. Nobody seems to know why."

Now Tim's message confirms that MPEG-2 VLD and MPEG-4 Part 2 is actually implemented by their AMD Catalyst Linux driver, but that an XvBA SDK update is needed to expose it. Like in the XBMC boat, there's no comment on when such an update to the SDK will now arrive. The H.264 Level 5.1 support is also in a similar boat that it's in the driver but at least there it's said to contain "limitations" (or just buggy?) so that it's hidden within the PCS, the AMD Persistent Configuration Store Database. With knowing the right AMDPCSDB key it would be possible to then enable the H.264 Level 5.1 support.

Let's hope the next XvBA update is due out soon for those not using better means of Linux video playback acceleration.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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