Video Acceleration API

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Original author(s)Intel
Initial releaseSeptember 13, 2007 (2007-09-13)
Stable release
2.3.0 / September 30, 2018 (2018-09-30)
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC
Operating systemLinux, Android, BSD
LicenseMIT License

Video Acceleration API (VA API) is a royalty-free API as well as its implementation as free and open-source library (libVA) distributed under the MIT License.

The VA API is to be implemented by device drivers to offer end-user software, such as VLC media player or GStreamer, access to available video acceleration hardware, such as PureVideo (through the libva-vdpau driver, which implements VA API in terms of VDPAU) or Unified Video Decoder.

The API enables and provides access to hardware-accelerated video processing, using hardware such as graphics processing units (GPU) to accelerate video encoding and decoding by offloading processing from the central processing unit (CPU).

VA API video decode/encode interface is platform and window system independent but is primarily targeted at Direct Rendering Infrastructure (DRI) in X Window System on Unix-like operating systems (including Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris), and Android, however it can potentially also be used with direct framebuffer and graphics sub-systems for video output. Accelerated processing includes support for video decoding, video encoding, subpicture blending, and rendering.[1]

The VA API specification was originally designed by Intel for its GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) series of GPU hardware with the specific purpose of eventually replacing the XvMC standard as the default Unix multi-platform equivalent of Microsoft Windows DirectX Video Acceleration (DxVA) API, but today the API is no longer limited to Intel-specific hardware or GPUs.[2] Other hardware and manufacturers can freely use this open standard API for hardware accelerated video processing with their own hardware without paying a royalty fee.[3]


The main motivation for VA API is to enable hardware-accelerated video decode at various entry-points (VLD, IDCT, motion compensation, deblocking[4]) for the prevailing coding standards today (MPEG-2, MPEG-4 ASP/H.263, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, H.265/HEVC, and VC-1/WMV3). Extending XvMC was considered, but due to its original design for MPEG-2 MotionComp only, it made more sense to design an interface from scratch that can fully expose the video decode capabilities in today's GPUs.[5]

Supported hardware and drivers

As of January 17, 2012 VA API is natively supported by:

Supported video codecs

VA API currently supports these video codecs in the official mainline version, but note that exactly which video codecs are supported depends on the hardware and the driver's capabilities.

  • MPEG-2 decode acceleration Main Profile
  • VC-1 / WMV3 decode acceleration Advanced Profile
  • MPEG-4 Part 2 (H.263) (a.k.a. MPEG-4 SP / MPEG-4 ASP, more commonly known as Xvid) decode acceleration
  • H.264 AVC encode acceleration Main Profile
  • H.264 AVC decode acceleration High Profile
    • H.264 / AVC Hardware Variable Length Decoding (VLD) - CABAC
    • H.264 / AVC Hardware Variable Length Decoding (VLD) - CAVLC
    • H.264 / AVC Hardware Inverse Transform (IT)
    • H.264 / AVC Hardware Motion Compensation (HWMC)
    • H.264 / AVC Hardware In-Loop Deblocking (ILDB)
  • H.265/HEVC encode acceleration
  • H.265/HEVC decode acceleration
  • VP9 8-bit encode acceleration[12]
  • VP9 8-bit and 10-bit decode acceleration[12]

Processes that can be accelerated with VA API

Video decoding and post-processing processes that can be offloaded and accelerated if both the device drivers and GPU hardware supports them:

Software architecture

Video Acceleration API architecture

The current interface is window system independent, so that it can potentially be used with graphics sub-systems other than the DRI (Direct Rendering Infrastructure) in X Window System, such as direct with framebuffer, and it can work with third-party DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) libraries. In a nutshell, it is a scheme to pass various types of data buffers from the application to the GPU for decoding or encoding a compressed bit-stream.

Software supporting VA API

See also


  1. ^ a b c VA-API Video Acceleration On Intel Medfield
  2. ^ Video4Linux2 - Path to a Standardized Video Codec API
  3. ^ Nathan Willis (2009-07-01). "VA API slowly, but surely, making progress".
  4. ^ MPlayer, FFmpeg Gain VA-API Support
  5. ^ - Software/vaapi, About
  6. ^ CrystalHD backend for VA-API (libva)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 20, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Intel hardware-accelerated media decoding and encoding on Linux
  8. ^
  9. ^ Intel's Poulsbo Driver A Bloody Mess?
  10. ^ S3 Graphics Releases Linux Driver With OpenGL 3.0, VA API
  11. ^ Michael Larabel (2009-02-03). "A NVIDIA VDPAU Back-End For Intel's VA-API". Phoronix. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^ Mailing list entry that describes uses of VA-API
  15. ^ RealPlayer for MID & Intel/Linux FAQ
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ Fluendo's New Codecs Support VDPAU, VA-API
  18. ^ .264 VA-API GPU Video Acceleration For Flash
  19. ^ "gstreamer-vaapi git".
  20. ^ a b XBMC Gets Working Intel VA-API Support
  21. ^ mplayer branch soon to be merged mainline
  22. ^ MythTV 0.25 release notes
  23. ^ VLC 1.1.0 release notes
  24. ^ release notes
  25. ^

External links