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Linux devices gain multimedia “Octopus”

Dec 16, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Movial has joined the Khronos Group, and released an interesting “media engine” under the LGPL. The “Movial Octopus Media Engine” targets Linux devices such as MIDs and netbooks equipped with players, voice/video call applications, and other media applications.

“Movial Octopus Media Engine” provides a central point of contact for “all” multimedia use cases on a Linux-based device, according to Movial. It includes an API (application programming interface) for management of local or network-based media, and works with either GStreamer or OpenMAX IL (integration layer) components for transporting and rendering media files.

Movial has a long history of working with Nokia on Maemo, the community project creating software for Nokia's Linuxbased N8x0 tablet devices. And sure enough, the Octopus source code includes some files specific to Nokia's N8x0 devices. The release today of Octopus may be timed to coincide with the approaching debut of Maemo 5, which softly launched in a pre-alpha release last week.

The “Octopus” does indeed have eight appendages, at least in this system flow chart
(Click to enlarge)

The Octopus client API is currently based on D-Bus, but a 2009 release will add an OpenMAX AL (application layer) API, says the company. OpenMAX AL appears to be aimed at providing a standard way for media apps to exploit the media acceleration hardware increasingly built into system-on-chip (SoC) processors for the device market (more OpenMAX details below).

OpenMAX targets code acceleration

The OpenMAX standard that underlies Octopus is one of many developed by the Khronos Group, a member-funded consortium that develops cross-platform, royalty-free standards for mobile and embedded devices. Khronos is best known for its OpenGL and OpenGL ES graphics standards, but the group also hosts standards including Collada (COLLAborative Design Activity), which standardizes interchange file formats for interactive 3D applications, and the OpenKODE royalty-free alternative to Microsoft DirectX.

OpenMAX architecture
(Click to enlarge)

The OpenMAX API aims to let library and codec developers more easily tap the media acceleration technologies provided by a variety of hardware architectures, says the group, and make accelerated streaming media codecs more portable across multiple operating systems (OSes) and processor platforms. OpenMAX includes integration, development, and application layers:

  • Integration Layer (IL) — defines standardized media component interface for integrating and communicating with hardware- or software-based multimedia codecs across multiple OSes
  • Development Layer (DL) — includes audio, video and imaging functions that can be implemented on new CPUs , hardware engines, and DSPs (digital signal processors), for accelerating codecs such as MPEG-4 and MP3
  • Application Layer (AL) — standardizes accelerated capture and playback of audio, video, and images on embedded and mobile devices, and specifies features such as creating and controlling player and recorder objects and connecting them to configurable I/O objects ranging from cameras to radios

Helsinki-based Movial keeps sales offices in Palo Alto, Calif., Shanghai, China, and Hong Kong. It employs 120, of which about half work on the “Social Communicator”, an IMS client for desktop and mobile OSes. The other half comprise the Creative Technologies team that is responsible for the Movial IXS stack for phones and other mobile devices. In addition to these commercial products, and the open source Octopus and D-Bus Bridge code, Movial has launched other open source projects including Scratchbox and Matrix.

Stated Tomi Rauste, President of Movial Creative Technologies. “Movial greatly values the work of the Khronos Group — especially in reducing the fragmentation in the mobile Linux market through open APIs.”

Movial last month made a separate LGPL code release, of its D-Bus Bridge technology. That contribution to the Linux device community comprises Webkit and Gecko extensions that harness the open-source D-Bus inter-process communication (IPC) technology, with the aim of giving local or “privileged” Javascript/HTML widgets more power to interact with the systems they run on.


The open source “Movial Octopus Media Engine” for Linux is available for free download, here.

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