A few months ago, video codec vendor On2 announced its acquisition of Hantro, a company that offers licensable video codec accelerators and software. At the Mobile World Congress in February, On2 unveiled the first offspring from the marriage—the Hantro 8190 licensable silicon IP core. The 8190 is a video decoder core that's intended for use in chips targeting mobile handsets, and supports the Flash video format (FLV) used by YouTube and Facebook.
The Hantro 8190 supports H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, and VP6 (a proprietary On2 compression format that, along with H.264 and Sorenson Spark, can be used to generate FLV files). The 8190 also supports JPEG still images up to 16 MP. According to On2, the core can decode H.264 High Profile, 1080p resolution video at 30 fps with a clock frequency under 165 MHz. The IP block is configurable; licensees can choose a subset of the available codecs and resolutions to minimize silicon area.
Fixed-function engines still make sense in many battery-powered applications (like cell phones) because they are more energy efficient than user-programmable processors. But user-programmable processors may be recruited to handle video codec work when developers want to add new codecs that aren't supported by the phone's hardwired engine. There's room for both approaches, and with the 8190, On2 appears to be in a good position to take advantage of the growing demand for portable digital video solutions.
For more BDTI's analysis of Hantro 8190, see InsideDSP