Status of hardware acceleration
You need a decent hardware, because things like hardware acceleration for h264 e.g. xvmc isn’t available for Linux yet, and if I read nvidias forum admins right, there won’t be, at least not in near future (years). Read in this thread about the pathetic begging of the Linux community for hardware acceleration for Linux, also several open letters and petitions (1), (2) were launched, where of course I also signed in. And, as far as I read between the lines, a Open Source 3D project (Nouvea) has been lauchned, where the reasons why nVidia refuses to realize the xvmc support, aren’t valid anymore. Never the less, the message from nVidia: “No suport in near future” is unchanged since 2007. And even if the thread at nVidias forum suggests, there are other Companies (ATI/VIA+S3) which doing major progresses accomplishing OpenSource drivers with hardware acceleration for h264, believe me, there is nothing out there what can be used. Not even something at alpha state. I’ve also read at Wikipedia about XVMC (X-Video Motion Compensation) S3 with its OpenChrome driver would support h264. I felt utterly urged to correct this mistake. That’s simple not true. Such a gfx-card cost about 40â‚¬, and I would love to spend that money if I only can use accelerated h264 support.
What hardware do I need?
The rule of thumb is: 3GHz real frequency for one single core. It doesn’t matter if you have four or even more cores. Mplayer isn’t just able to utilize more than one core regarding AVCHD playback. There’s a project called ffmpeg-mt which aims at multi-threading, but it’s somewhat silent in their repository.
The situation looks different of course if you let commercial decoder into your scope. I’m talking about CoreAVC (No link here, look for your self). This decoder makes use of all cores when playing back mts files. But… in version 1.8.0 (current one) it’s not playing at all. It’s broken. Read here.
The state of development
A nice overview about all possible but not yet working efforts regarding playing back H.264 contents is summarised at this page. The XBMC team eagerly wants hardware acceleration, so the old XBox hardware can play back HD content.