One name was conspicuously absent from the list of companies backing Google’s WebM project and the VP8 codec. Despite other chip makers and designers being on the list, like AMD, NVIDIA, ARM, and Qualcomm, Intel didn’t make an appearance. Yesterday, the company made its first careful commitment to the WebM project.
The commitment is indeed a careful one, since it inly covers the “Smart TV” space. Intel is currently working with Google to bring internet video to television sets, and part of that push is a specialised Atom processor, the Atom CE4100. This is a highly-optimised SoC running at 1.2Ghz, which can, among other things, decode two 1080p streams at once. This is the chip included in Google TV-enabled devices from Sony which will appear later this year.
Intel has stated it will add hardware decode support for WebM/VP8 to this chip if the new codec manages to establish itself in this space. “Just like we did with other codecs like MPEG2, H.264 & VC1, if VP8 establishes itself in the Smart TV space, we will add it to our [hardware] decoders,” said Wilfred Martis, general manager for retail consumer electronics at Intel’s Digital Home Group.
For now, WebM content will be decoded in software on these devices, but you can be pretty sure that Google will push Intel to enable hardware acceleration for WebM video. This pledge of support shows that while Intel was absent from the list of companies backing WebM, it sure doesn’t seem like Intel is against WebM.
Intel always seems to be late to adopt anything new.