XBMC joins Boxee on hardware

XBMC 9.11: Beta2 Confluence

I’m already impressed with the Boxee DLink box specially after finding out that the machine has a Tegra 2 chip which means it will play anything and almost everything including Flash 10.1 and heavy weight h.264 content at 1080p resolution. But I also see XBMC is on the NUU player which was recently announced at CES 2010.

But interestingly enough you don’t need to invest in a new hardware box to get the best performance out of XBMC or even Boxee. I already talked about the amazing performance I’m getting out of the Intel X300 graphics processor unit along side a dual core processor. However theres some more great news from the XBMC camp in the form of Broadcom Crystal HD Hardware Decoder (BCM970012) which is a decoder card which can be put in Express card slots.

Through hard work and the joint efforts of several TeamXBMC/Redhat developers and the Broadcom Media PC Group, cross-platform hardware decoding of mpeg2, h.264 and VC1 video content up to 1080p will be coming to XBMC on OSX, Linux, and Windows via the Broadcom Crystal HD Hardware Decoder (BCM970012). The Broadcom Crystal HD is available now in a mini-PCIE card with ExpressCard and 1X PCIE form factors to follow. This means that the AppleTV and all those lovely new netbooks, Eee Boxes and older Intel Mac Minis have exciting new potential.

This solution has a common programming API, so many 3rd party developers and applications will be able to leverage hardware accelerated video content playback across OSX, Linux, and Windows platforms with minimal source code changes. Best of all, this is an open source solution with full source code for driver and library available for OSX and Linux under a GPL/LGPL license. Wow, this indeed is the Holy Grail and a major score for the open source community as this means no more tainted Linux kernels! Support has already been added to XBMC under the svn trunk.

More information can be found under the blog post under XBMC.org, but it certainly looks like 2010 is going to be the year when XBMC, Boxee and Plex really shine through. I’m actually planning to build a XBMC system just for work, maybe I’ll stick Boxee on it too.

Oh and good on Bytemark for sponsoring XBMC.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.