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XBMC Raspberry Pi and MPEG-2 CODEC

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
FYI:
Here is how someone got a Raspberry Pi to work as a set top box running XBMC.

http://hackaday.com/2012/11/19/raspberry-pi-reaches-critical-mass-as-xbmc-hardware/#more-90330
post #2 of 8
How come I can play MPEG2 files on every other type of computer without having to pay extra?
post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by waterhead View Post

How come I can play MPEG2 files on every other type of computer without having to pay extra?

The foundation that started the Raspberry Pi didn't want to increase the cost of the board, as their original intent of the board was to have a computer that was cheap and easy to start programming on. So they shipped without a the MPEG2 License as it would have increased the boards cost. Then after much complaining from the HT crowd they set up a way to let individuals purchase a License if they so wish.

Most other machines you have either paid for the hardware Licence in your original purchase, or the machine has enough power to do software decoding.
post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by FFE View Post

Most other machines you have either paid for the hardware Licence in your original purchase, or the machine has enough power to do software decoding.
Neither applies to me. I installed Linux for free, and use a nVidia card for playing MPEG2 video. Maybe that is included in the original purchase of the card. But, what about if I used the open-source nouveau driver? No money changes hands to use that driver.
post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by waterhead View Post

How come I can play MPEG2 files on every other type of computer without having to pay extra?

...because the RPi lacks the CPU horsepower to decode MPEG2 in realtime, at least for 1080i/720p HD video sources (I.e. OTA ATSC or MPEG2 BluRay releases). Don't know if the RPi's 700MHz CPU could decode even DVD (I.e. 480i/480p) MPEG2 smoothly. Even a 10+ year old 800Mhz P3 can decode DVD MPEG2 without issue, using FOSS MPEG2 decoders.

The RPI's GPU is the Broadcom Videocore-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VideoCore

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_Pi#Specifications
Quote:
GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV,[70] OpenGL ES 2.0, MPEG-2 and VC-1 (with license[67]), 1080p30 h.264/MPEG-4 AVC high-profile decoder and encoder[3]

which apparently doesn't have FOSS drivers for the MPEG2/VC1 decoding yet, hence the license needed to get the GPU hardware decoding working.

...which defeats the point of the RPi, at least for HTPC/media playback use.

I've avoided the Rpi for these reasons- the CPU is too low power to decode common video codecs using FOSS MPEG2 decoders, and there's no FOSS driver for the Broadcom GPU used on the board yet, so no hardware decode assist. I assume the RPi in its current form would be useless for playing even SD Flash video:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1389407/my-next-htpc-will-be-raspberry-pi/30#post_22607930

The RPi team gets a lot of credit for what's been accomplished so far, and applying software FOSS principles to the hardware design has been a worthy goal. But they should have picked a more FOSS friendly GPU for such a high profile project that touts user freedoms.

There are far better alternatives (though more costly) to the RPi, with dual or quad cores and better GPU's.

Still an interesting technical achievement for free-speech-ish hardware, though shortsighted on the GPU selection re: freedom.

IMO, the current RPi is not a good choice as a general purpose media center- maybe a decent music player/server, but not for video playback and fancy frontend GUI's .

Moral of the story- to ensure functionality with FOSS software and drivers, you need multicore ~1.6GHz MINIMUM to cover CPU decoding of common video codecs.

The current RPi is shaping up to be simply an Arduino alternative-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arduino

given the RPi's CPU/GPU limitations
Edited by Rgb - 11/24/12 at 10:12am
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

The RPi team gets a lot of credit for what's been accomplished so far, and applying software FOSS principles to the hardware design has been a worthy goal. But they should have picked a more FOSS friendly GPU for such a high profile project that touts user freedoms.

There are far better alternatives (though more costly) to the RPi, with dual or quad cores and better GPU's.

Still an interesting technical achievement for free-speech-ish hardware, though shortsighted on the GPU selection re: freedom.
I'll give them credit for having helping to push interest in this area of computing, but not too much, as it is evident that there was plenty of movement in this direction already anyway. They just happened to capture attention. If not for them, then someone else would have fallen into their place...

Second, recently they've been outright dishonest (in regards to an OSS gpu driver) and spinsters, so I question just how principled they really are after all. I'm tempted to give them a nomination for a "VIA like marketing dishonesty" award.

As for interesting competition that is within the $100 range of the rpi, there is the ODROID-X ($130) and the Cubieboard ($50) ... both of which use Mail400 graphics (which could allow for use of OSS Lima drivers)
post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

Second, recently they've been outright dishonest (in regards to an OSS gpu driver) and spinsters, so I question just how principled they really are after all. I'm tempted to give them a nomination for a "VIA like marketing dishonesty" award.
As for interesting competition that is within the $100 range of the rpi, there is the ODROID-X ($130) and the Cubieboard ($50) ... both of which use Mail400 graphics (which could allow for use of OSS Lima drivers)

I own a PI and have to agree...for $40 (w/ shipping) I guess I can't complain about the product too much, but it's not as baked as it should be for the market they are trying to reach. The analog sound port has horrendous popping changing between songs and the USB port is questionable in terms of device support. Granted not all USB devices are as universal as they should be, but I've had problems with major manufactures devices like Logitech. Hindsight being 20/20 I would have bought something else.
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by bac522 View Post

for $40 (w/ shipping) I guess I can't complain about the product too much, but it's not as baked as it should be for the market they are trying to reach.
Yep.
Quote:
The analog sound port has horrendous popping changing between songs and the USB port is questionable in terms of device support. Granted not all USB devices are as universal as they should be, but I've had problems with major manufactures devices like Logitech.
I have heard (but don't know for a fact) that they have censored/removed posts in their forums over the USB issue(s). I got the sense that it was being suggested that they were trying to pull an "issue? what issue?". But again, I don't know if that's the case or not.

However, I do know very well for a fact that they lied about the gpu driver very recently -- trying to present it as something that its not -- and then resorted to spin when confronted about their claims. That doesn't sit right at all ... unless you're the type who will accept arguments along the basis that "despite the fact that it has four angles, its still a triangle". tongue.gif
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