Looming on the horizon


This is likely at least 3-4 years away, but h.264 is on its way out, now that h.265 (HEVC) has been adopted by more and more people.  Just as XviD was dropped by most in 2012, the same fate is inevitable for h.264 within a few years.


There are two key issues that keep h.265 off PowerPC:

1. Playback - there are currently no available playback applications capable of playing the h.265 codec that would work on Mac OS PowerPC.  VLC started supporting it in version 2.1.12, but this is irrelevant, since most h.265 is 2160p, and out of the range of even a quad G5.  There is some 720p h.265 floating around that a quad could likely play if there was a playback option.

2. Encoding - and this is the bigger need, as there are also no Mac OS PowerPC encoding software capable of reading h.265 to transcode it to something else.  Since most PowerPC hardware wouldn't be able to play most h.265 anyway, the best need to fill for us is to get an encoding app on PowerPC that can transcode h.265 to h.264 or XviD/DivX.


So we need a Mac developer to port a newer version of Handbrake (or any other equally capable encoder) to Tiger and Leopard PowerPC.

There is no point in wasting time on a player, as I already mentioned, since 90% of these files will not play on even a quad G5.

Even a Linux solution would work, but one for Mac OS would be a much broader brush stroke. 

I wanted to bring this up long before it became a dire need.

Thoughts?

21 comments:

  1. Why would you think it would be easier to port handbrake to OS X rather than finding a Linux solution? I ask because I talking with the macports team asking them why the latest vlc port was not available for PPC and they commented that X11 in Tiger and Leopard is too old. Don't you think that there is the possibility that whatever tool you try to port will run into the problem of requiring libraries that Tiger and Leopard do not have?

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    1. I don't say that it would be easier, read the text above. I say it would be a broader brush stroke to port to Mac, as virtually all PowerPC owners use Mac OS, but only a handful run Linux.

      I am no Mac OS developer, but if Cameron Kaiser can get around stuff like that, then I'm sure someone else can also.

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  2. Ok I see what you are saying.

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  3. If somebody is not afraid of the command line then I think that the easiest way is to install ffmpeg and mplayer from macports. Tha latest versions support h.265 (HEVC) encoding and playback. The macports' build of mplayer lacks OSD, but it is possible to compile a version that will work correctly.

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    1. Users like the all the authors here, and about half our readers, would be very comfy in the command line, but not so much for many others.

      Though, ripping video, even in the terminal, is not really that complex, but even I prefer the Handbrake GUI. I would be 100% happy with a text only version of anything that could transcode h.265.

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    2. Ok course, since you could script it in bash, you can also make an Applescript app for it. You would have to make sure the correct programs were installed, of course.

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  4. Zen,

    Does the Handbreak package in the Debain repos not work? They are available for powerpc.

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    1. I know you are looking for a MacOS solution I am just wondering if this will work in the interim.

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  5. Wouldn't a well programmed, well compiled, multicore-aware and fully Altivec-compliant application able to decode at least 2.5K H265 media on G5s?

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    1. Even if it did work, which again, it won't, do you really feel it's worth the effort for someone to work that hard for a player that works on one Mac model?

      HEVC is FAR more CPU hungry than h264.

      Like I already wrote, 720p or maybe even 1080p might play, but most HEVC is 2160p and up.

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  6. My Quad G5 handles 60fps 2160p h264 perfectly. H265 would have to be much more demanding for it to fail at 24fps.

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    1. Many benchmarks show h265 to be 5-16x more compute intensive. You can read one example of this here.

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    2. Also, you make claims about your h.264 playback ability without even the decency to list the player used and CPU consumption.

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  7. How exactly? I tried loading 2160p on CorePlayer and it failed. On VLC it was a bit too much, but yes, it works.

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  8. This is the reference file I tried for 2160P playback:

    http://hwcdn.net/j9t9v3v5/cds/Coastguard_H264.mp4

    It plays on my Quad with VLC but you have to use all the speed tricks in settings for smooth playback and then all cores are hitting 90%

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    1. Have you tried CorePlayer?

      And obviously this means that there is no way HEVC will play on even a a quad G5. The best case scenario is 4-5x more compute intensive, and on the most powerful consumer PowerPC system ever sold.

      This goes back to my point that a player would be a waste of energy, and a capable transcoder is the best solution to get HEVC content to play on PPC.

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  9. Coreplayer crashes immediately for this file. Generally, Coreplayer's efficiency loses ground on my Quad the heavier the file - I see only a few percent less CPU than with VLC.
    Where possible I'd rather not be pushing near 100% CPU for too long anyhow.

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  10. I will add, that on trying it again, switching to full screen (ie not windowed) brings overall CPU use down to between 55 & 65 percent - that's a heck of a difference!

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  11. I would dare to say someone will come with a PCI Express hardware accelerator for PCs. It would be up to the community to release drivers and plugins for VLC, etc.. (remember the PCI Express Cell boards?)

    However, I doubt we would ever see a PCI card.

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  12. I so don't want to be a Nay-Sayer, but maybe we should let this one go.

    A Quad-G5 is a beefy machine, but when you can get an Android 8-Core Mini-PC for your TV for like $120 that can both read and trans-code (through VLC) h.265 for something like 8-watts, why burden old PPC rigs with it?

    I love my G4 MDD (Dual 1.42) and for the most part, since all the upgrades, it is a spry, fully-functional machine, and for my bread-N-butter (graphics work), it still beats Gimp to a bloody-pulp, but asking it to spend 5 hours to render 1 hour of video at 100+ watts just doesn't make sense. We don't put orchestral flutes on Locomotives for a reason, we put big, electric industrial horns. Tools for the Job are everything, and these old timers have served us faithfully - let's let them keep their dignity too.

    P.S. if you absolutely must play a H.265 video on a PPC, odds are their will be some-type of online converter that will do it on someone else' electric bill.

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