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High-End Players (HTPC)

The first target platforms will be general-purpose computers and especially those used as Home-Theater PCs.

These platforms will often (though not always) have the computing power to process the HD VP8 video used in Lib-Ray with software-only or GPU-accelerated video decoding. There are plenty of systems which can smoothly play VP8 video at full-HD now. Typically a dual- or quad-core CPU running at 2.5GHz is required for this -- which is not an uncommon spec for a desktop computer, HTPC, and even some laptops. Generally, systems at this level are advertised for their ability to run games as well as play video.

This is good, because the in-hardware support for VP8 is not yet very widespread compared to H.264.

As part of this project, we will be testing Lib-Ray playback on actual hardware and reporting which hardware we've found that can support smooth playback.

Low-End and Embedded Players

There is hope that VP8 support in hardware will become much more common, seeing as this standard is being championed by Google for Android platforms under the name "WebM". Although "WebM" is not quite the same spec as Lib-Ray, from a hardware perspective, the important requirement is to play VP8 video at higher and higher resolutions.

In response, hardware manufacturers are producing embedded mobile CPUs with VP8 hardware-acceleration support. There are already mobile chipsets being released which can handle the requirements for smooth playback of Libray MKV/VP8 full-HD (1920x1080) streams with hardware acceleration. Mobile CPU systems are popular on low-end Home Theater PCs, and thus we have reason to hope that the number of players capable of playing Lib-Ray releases smoothly will only increase.

We hope to make available a budget "Lib-Ray player" which is to say, actually a tiny Linux-HTPC on a mobile-processor-based system. It looks like a $100 system is probably feasible. The "Raspberry Pi" has been mentioned as a platform, but apparently falls short of the playback requirement, even when the hardware-acceleration for VP8 is unlocked. There are, however, a number of other embedded computer systems with higher-profile VP8 playback available. The following mobile CPUs look promising based on manufacturer specs alone (We have not tested on them!):

We will publish updates on hardware support as we become aware of it. We also hope to identify specific set-top/embedded boxes that could be used to make an inexpensive Lib-Ray player.

Volume Manufacturing

Of course, it should go without saying that in terms of actual production costs, Lib-Ray is less demanding than any kind of optical-disk playback system (optical disk drives require finely-manufactured moving parts and are intrinsically a cost-driver for such players). So, if someone were to commit to manufacturing "Lib-Ray Player" systems in large numbers, they could be very cheap. However, we anticipate that we'll be limited by small order quantities for the foreseeable future, and thus the question will be how to create players using existing off-the-shelf systems.