CES: Rockchip gives Google's WebM a hardware boost

Google's royalty-free video technology gets some support with a new mobile processor from Chinese chip designer Rockchip.

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Rockchip, a Chinese chip designer that focuses on processors for Net-connected phones, TVs, and e-book readers, announced a new processor today at CES that supports Google's WebM technology for video streaming.

WebM can be used to encode video with the the open-source and royalty-free VP8 video codec and Vorbis audio codec, and Google hopes it will keep patent encumbrances off the Net. Its primary competitor is the H.264 codec, also known as AVC, whose use requires licensing an expensive set of patents.

Crucial to WebM's success, though, is hardware support that speeds decoding and saves battery power when compared to running the process on a general-purpose processor--especially on mobile devices. That's where Fuzhou Rockchip Electronics' new system-on-a-chip (SOC) comes in.

The RK29xx is built around an ARM Cortex-A8 CPU and also can accelerate Adobe Systems' Flash Player 10.1, 2D and 3D graphics, and 1080p VP8 video.

"To build VP8 decoding into the RK29xx graphics accelerators, Rockchip licensed the WebM Project's G-Series 1 video decoder IP design," Rockchip said in a statement released at CES today.

Added Jani Huoponen, hardware product manager for the WebM project, "We're very excited that Rockchip chose our G-Series 1 hardware design to add VP8 support to the RK29xx."