Do you want mpeg 2 decoding on your Pi?

Whats mpeg 2?
1%
1
Yes, if it was free
26%
23
No, I couldn't care less
13%
12
Yes, if it was less than £2
12%
11
Yes, if it was less than £10
47%
42
 
Total votes: 89
blugerchug
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Mpeg 2 poll

Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:33 pm

I was really excited getting my Pi, I know it probably isn't the use for which it was originally intended, but mine was detined to become a perfect little media player. I enjoyed setting it up as a xbmc box, it is quite impressive, it plays my H264 encoded dvd collection beautifully. But my PVR saves in mpeg2 and even with lots of messing with settings for transcoding its just not been sucessful.

The jail broken Apple tv attracts a big premium over its original sale price so it shows there is lots of demand for a simple streamer. It must be in the foundations interest to maximise economies of scale even if its for entertainment rather than learning. So I was interested to know if anyone else considered it to be important?

It seems that it is technically possible to use an mpeg 2 encoder within the gpu but it would more than likely cost a fee for a license.

Ps - apologies for assuming GBP in the question

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:16 pm

Given that 4 months after launch, the distributors still can't keep them in stock and are unwilling to commit to deliveries in less than 4 weeks...WHAT "economies of scale" do you anticipate could be achieved by this?

(Not, you understand, that having MPEG 2 decoders in place is a *bad* idea...just that it's a questionable addition for the Foundation to work on. You could, of course, use another machine to transcode from MPEG 2 to H.264.)

blugerchug
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:31 pm

You mean you don't think they'd want to sell even more if there was an additional market? Production will catch up one day..

As I mentioned in my original post I've already tried and failed with the transcoding option

jamesh
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:41 pm

The MPEG licence costs money. There may be a codec pack in the future which adds it. But you will have to pay more for it.
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blugerchug
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:45 pm

Yes, that was really the idea behind my poll, I wanted to find out how many people would be prepared to pay hence the option to vote at the top of the post.

I also do say in the original post that it would cost money..

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:13 pm

blugerchug wrote:Yes, that was really the idea behind my poll, I wanted to find out how many people would be prepared to pay hence the option to vote at the top of the post.

I also do say in the original post that it would cost money..
Perhaps the point should be phrased this way... *Who* should be the ones to get the license? Surely not the Raspberry Pi Foundation as it's simply not part of what they are set up to do. Equally inappropriate would be RS or Farnell. The entities that should get the license would be (possibly) Broadcom, since they are controlling the GPU code, or the Linux distro companies--Debian, Arch, Red Hat, etc.--to go into the software package. Alternatively, it could be done as a 3rd party package and the writer of the package would get the license. As part of resolving those issues, you also have to resolve any GPL issues that might arise. You can redistribute (e.g. give it to your friend Bob) any GPL'd software, so long as you comply with the GPL license. An MPEG 2 license is highly unlikely to include the rights to do that. If a licensed MPEG 2 decoder is included on your SD card, you would very likely NOT be free to clone it for a friend, which is something you can do now.

blugerchug
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:56 am

W. H. Heydt wrote: Perhaps the point should be phrased this way... *Who* should be the ones to get the license? Surely not the Raspberry Pi Foundation as it's simply not part of what they are set up to do. Equally inappropriate would be RS or Farnell. The entities that should get the license would be (possibly) Broadcom, since they are controlling the GPU code, or the Linux distro companies--Debian, Arch, Red Hat, etc.--to go into the software package. Alternatively, it could be done as a 3rd party package and the writer of the package would get the license. As part of resolving those issues, you also have to resolve any GPL issues that might arise. You can redistribute (e.g. give it to your friend Bob) any GPL'd software, so long as you comply with the GPL license. An MPEG 2 license is highly unlikely to include the rights to do that. If a licensed MPEG 2 decoder is included on your SD card, you would very likely NOT be free to clone it for a friend, which is something you can do now.
Ok, so you're saying that you'd have worded the question:

Who should get the mpeg license?
a. The foundation
b. RS or Farnell
c. The writer of a 3rd party package

Hmm, I'm not sure that would really work but hey, there is plenty of room on here if you want to start your own poll, you can even cut and paste my questions if you want and see how you get on.... :roll:

jamesh
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:22 am

The licence would need to be purchased by the Foundation, not Broadcom. Broadcom would just supply a modified blob that supports MPEG2. That's the easy bit. The problem is down to how to ensure that modified blob only works for those who have paid the licence, and then how to set up a body to sell the modified blobs and databases all the information - i.e. which Pi's can run which blob. In addition, there are maintenance issues with people wanting to transfer licences from one device to another etc. There a lot of infrastructure that needs to be in place to deal with this. For a licence that cost $2 if memory serves.
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thexman
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:51 am

just a costing thing but if the licence is $2 then thats a little over £1.20 i think admin per user wanting the Blob. say £8 pounds and £5 pound transfers with 100000 Pis in circulation or more if 25% of people wanted Mpeg2 on there Pi thats 25000X £10 = £250,000 pounds in the first take of money, now working from a shed with one doris paying her 30,000 pounds a year thats 8 years wages with a small profit for operatiing if no one transfers it would take a database to be setup thats one PC a desk a chair ...

im not getting why the foundation isnt jumping at Mpeg2 and charging for using it to them that want it, the more Pis. the more extra cash . and remember eventually some one will hack the blob and do it for Free and then no one benifits from it.

how do i get Broadcom to implement the Mpeg2 into the Blob by the way,?>
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jamesh
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:59 am

Mpeg2 support has nothing to do with Broadcom as it's already supported. Just needs to be built in to the firmware blob (most devices using the Videocore can play MPEG2). It's all down to the Foundation (except for some GPU code to determine whether the device is allowed to run MPEG2 which would be required to prevent licence piracy)

25% of people with Pi's want MPEG2. You sure? I'd say more like 1%. Which is still a lot of people, but makes paying for it more difficult.
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teh_orph
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:03 pm

I think James is right here in terms of a percentage, it'll be low. I expect many people would fall into the category of "I'll have it if it were free as I don't really plan to use it". I think if there's any hoop-jumping - irrespective of the price - then people will just not bother.
My main point however is a major deterrent would be the unknown factor or playback software. If you have to hunt and download a very specific (and often quite Spartan) player that can work with this bespoke Broadcom decoding library then I'd imagine people wouldn't bother.

To summarise: even for £2, I wouldn't bother if a) there's annoying license hoops b) and it doesn't work with "my usual player".

blugerchug
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:40 pm

I was also expecting that the numbers would be low, although its not showing that way from those who have voted (maybe you can argue that those not interested would not even look at the post in order to vote). I have to say though the options, if you assume that the Pi is never going to work, are pretty limited. I could get an Apple TV 2 to do the job (~£150 second hand) or perhaps a Roku (which has the identical Broadcom chip?). Its pretty irritating knowing that the hardware is perfectly capable in the Pi, its just not turned on.. I'd happily pay more than £10 for the blob. £20 definitely. £40 probably. Realistically though its back to the drawing board for my 'media centre' and I'll have to find another use for the Pi... perhaps I can find a way to make it play snake :(

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abishur
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:18 pm

It would be interesting if the verification process could be automatic. Something like you have to buy it from the pi itself, the webpage logs the serial number of the pi. The mpeg-2 blob would then have a bit that records the serial number (or some other code that is unique and burned in and unchangeable) and every time it booted it checked to ensure that the serial number matched it's recorded number or it wouldn't work.
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tufty
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:55 pm

Mpeg2 doesn't do anything to further the foundation's goals. Providing it will cost the foundation money and effort. Money and effort that would be far better spent getting Raspberry Pis into classrooms.

If you want an mpeg-2 compatible pvr, there is a large choice of prepackaged ones out there - by the time you factor in the cost of a psu, case, storage, cables, some sort of remote and so on, the pi is probably more expensive and definitely more hassle.

thexman
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 4:31 pm

tufty wrote:Mpeg2 doesn't do anything to further the foundation's goals. Providing it will cost the foundation money and effort. Money and effort that would be far better spent getting Raspberry Pis into classrooms.

If you want an mpeg-2 compatible pvr, there is a large choice of prepackaged ones out there - by the time you factor in the cost of a psu, case, storage, cables, some sort of remote and so on, the pi is probably more expensive and definitely more hassle.
some of the foundations Goals require Cash, money, moola , wonga any reason to raise money that wont cost much to implement would always further the foundation, and schools and the good old British government are poor at paying for things.

i've Priced adding all the things a Boxee or HTPC require to be a media center and the Pi is still over 150 pounds cheaper. ill give 10% of that saving to have Mpeg2 Hardware decoded.
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robwriter
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:23 pm

Don't know about logistics of doing this, but I think take up would be more than 1%, especially if you made this a codec pack which covered more of the missing video and audio decoders.

I agree that being a media player isn't the Pi's main objective, but then how many of the things people are doing on here are? IMHO the Pi will succeed (or succeed more) if it appeals to as many people as possible and does as many things as possible. Most people who use XBMC could probably use some additional codecs, so there's definitely a market for MPEG-2 and other codecs. And I certainly wouldn't mind the foundation making a little money out of this to help pay for other things.

The Pi has potential as a media player - XBMC proves that - but right now it isn't a viable solution for anyone who wants to watch TV or DVD easily.

EDIT - There was some talk of offloadings parts of MPEG-2 decoding to the GPU using the librarys we have, so all may not be lost, but its way beyond my understanding.

selsinork
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:36 pm

If you assume there's a market for it then surely the way to do it is to have something pre-programmed into the pi at the factory that enables or disables mpeg2, perhaps an OTP bit that isn't user accessable gets blown to disable mpeg2 on the $35 devices. As you can't undo that blown bit the $35 version can't ever be made to re-enable mpeg2. Ok, I'm understating the effort involved, but you get the idea..

You then sell a $70 version that has not had that bit set and can use mpeg2. Yes, even if the license is only $2, charge $70. If for no other reason than the foundations goal is education not cheap media players. So the people only interested in a cheap media player get to subsidise the foundations main goal and provide some income to offset the cost of dealing with licensing and the process of producing a different device

blugerchug
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:43 pm

tufty wrote:If you want an mpeg-2 compatible pvr, there is a large choice of prepackaged ones out there - by the time you factor in the cost of a psu, case, storage, cables, some sort of remote and so on, the pi is probably more expensive and definitely more hassle.
I don't want a PVR, I want a media streamer to stream from my PVR.

So cost breakdown
PSU - standard phone charger, same as everyone else
Case - nothing special required (or not at all really)
Storage - only a SD card 4Gb will do, its only streaming content, storage is all on the network...
Cables - only HDMI and ethernet required, just like everyone else
Remote - it'll work using CEC so my existing TV remote will do fine, no need to buy anything else.

So actually it makes perfect financial sense compared to other streamers and is highly cost effective. I do agree probably a lot more hassle though but IMO worth it for the saving.. and if I could get it to work I'd want another three Pis straight away to add to my other TVs.

tufty wrote:Mpeg2 doesn't do anything to further the foundation's goals. Providing it will cost the foundation money and effort. Money and effort that would be far better spent getting Raspberry Pis into classrooms.
Ok, but on the front page of this web site, advertising the user manual it says this:

Inside, you’ll find everything you need to get started with your Raspberry Pi, including:
  • - an easy introduction to Linux for total beginners,
    - a guide to getting your SD card working,
    - programming in Scratch and Python,
    - using the Raspberry Pi as a home media centre,
    - using the GPIO to do some physical computing (driving things like lights and motors and recognising switches and sensors),
    - a beginners’ soldering guide, and much more.
Is it me or is home media centre quite high up that list? So if its not in the foundations goals then why mention it? I'm not saying its not possible to make some kind of media centre, but IMO at least its usefulness it severely and artificially limited. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure we should all be thinking about the children, but I'm just saying I'd like the opportunity to part with more money, straight into the charity, to get mpeg2. Maybe that would actually be a happy situation from which everyone could benefit?

robwriter
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:55 pm

selsinork wrote:If you assume there's a market for it then surely the way to do it is to have something pre-programmed into the pi at the factory that enables or disables mpeg2, perhaps an OTP bit that isn't user accessable gets blown to disable mpeg2 on the $35 devices. As you can't undo that blown bit the $35 version can't ever be made to re-enable mpeg2. Ok, I'm understating the effort involved, but you get the idea..

You then sell a $70 version that has not had that bit set and can use mpeg2. Yes, even if the license is only $2, charge $70. If for no other reason than the foundations goal is education not cheap media players. So the people only interested in a cheap media player get to subsidise the foundations main goal and provide some income to offset the cost of dealing with licensing and the process of producing a different device
I don't understand the hostility towards this request.

People on this forum are talking about using the Pi for all sorts of purposes - what is wrong with MPEG-2? I'm not saying the Foundation should drop everything to work on this, but if they get it right it could provide codecs useful for a wide audience and make some cash. Why charge $70?

As as already been stated by people in the know in this thread the license would be sold after you bought the Pi and would probably be based on serial number.

Dilligaf
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:08 pm

I can see the potential for the foundation to make a LOT of money from a codec pack. I don't know how much they make on each Pi sold but the total profits from a codec pack has the potential to be more than the profits from Pi sales. $2-5 licensing cost sold for $20 leaves a 75% or more profit. As far as administration linking to the Pi serial would work, I have read talk of the ability to transfer the codec pack to a different Pi, why? Sell it as non transferable, that would greatly reduce the administrative costs.

blugerchug
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:11 pm

robwriter wrote:
I don't understand the hostility towards this request.
I think he was sort of agreeing with you wasn't he? Wasn't it just a suggestion for policing a way of paying for a license? I agree $70 was a bit steep though :) but I'd be happy to pay extra for a mpeg2 ready version and I'm sure $70 was plucked as an example..

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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:12 pm

robwriter wrote: I don't understand the hostility towards this request.

People on this forum are talking about using the Pi for all sorts of purposes - what is wrong with MPEG-2? I'm not saying the Foundation should drop everything to work on this, but if they get it right it could provide codecs useful for a wide audience and make some cash. Why charge $70?

As as already been stated by people in the know in this thread the license would be sold after you bought the Pi and would probably be based on serial number.
I won't attempt to speak for anyone else, but the last thing I am towards this idea is "hostile". Indeed, I ticked the "Sure, if it's free" choice.

The issues I see are around how the Pi works and what its intended purposes are.

Consider that part of the operational character of the Pi is that, if someone bricks the OS or other software, you just re-build the SD card and reboot. This rather strongly implies that any card (with any OS) should work on any Pi. The further implications of this are (a) all Pis of the same model are--near as makes no difference--identical, and (b) once you have a working SD card you can make copies of it for any and Pis you have or have access to (or are possessed by friends...and chain onwards).

Given all that... How do you license proprietary software where the licensee insists on a per copy royalty? Do you trust everyone to go back to the license distributor and own up to how many copies they've made? Want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge?

Basically, the whole setup won't work unless a royalty agreement can be worked out by *someone* that permits free copying of the required blob without caring which Pi...or how many Pis...it runs on.

The alternative would be to incorporate a freeware decoder (if that is even possible...if might require breaking any patents involved....or discovering a trade secret, as was done to DECSS).

While it's nice, and mildly interesting to see the poll results, I don't see any way to get from an expression of interest to a usable distribution scheme.

selsinork
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:34 pm

robwriter wrote: I don't understand the hostility towards this request.
There's no hostility on my part.
robwriter wrote:but if they get it right it could provide codecs useful for a wide audience and make some cash. Why charge $70?
Well to
robwriter wrote:make some cash
:)

The point isn't really how much, it's more the logistics of doing it in such a way that I can't just copy your mpeg2 enabled gpu blob and get the feature without paying for it. Some of that can be done by social engineering, if it costs you enough you may be less inclined to share it..

Serial number is fine, but what's the logistics of that ? A blob containing a full serial number database ? A blob personalised to your serial number ? A crypto hash of something ? Where do you store it that the user can't get at it to reverse engineer it ? Does it go with the Pi, or with the SD Card ? What happens when the Pi releases it's magic smoke, does the license go up in smoke too ?
Yes, I'm playing devils advocate, but it seems likely that with the number of interested people any simplistic scheme will be circumvented quite quickly. In fact I'm surprised not to have seen anything on someone trying to reverse engineer the blob from the Roku2 that we already know has the capability and the same SoC.
If it is circumvented then the RPF ends up responsible - in the eyes of the place they get the license from at least.

So all dealing with all of that takes time, effort and some logistics around tracking licenses, making sure only the people who paid for them can use them etc. All that costs money. Who pays, and how much ? What's the hassle worth to the RPF, how does it relate to their core educational goal, and how much are you willing to pay to get mpeg2 ?

So they've sold approx half a million units, 10k mpeg2 licenses and some way to enable it for all devices has leaked. Here's a bill for $1million for the unpaid units. Does the foundation survive that ? I don't know the answers to these sorts of questions, but I'd bet the RPF will have been thinking about some of them.

The quoted $2, or something involved in the admin of it has to have been significant enough for it not to be included already.

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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:47 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:Given all that... How do you license proprietary software where the licensee insists on a per copy royalty? Do you trust everyone to go back to the license distributor and own up to how many copies they've made?
As already mentioned - you'd need some kind of "license file" that the codec pack reads before it'd work, and the license file would only 'unlock' on a Pi with a specific serial number (or you could just bundle up the "license file" inside the Pi-specific "codec blob"). So you could copy the license file to as many SD cards or RaspberryPis as you want, but it would only "run" on one specific Pi (each Pi has a unique, permanent serial number).
Something like the scheme outlined in this thread http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewt ... =24&t=3538
And as the license file would be validated in entirely GPU-side code, it's pretty much unhackable.

All in theory, of course. And the people saying that 'any end-user cost for the codec pack above $2 is all profit for the Foundation' haven't considered how much considerable effort would be required to build such a system (as well as administer it, as already mentioned).
I suspect anyone who buys a codec pack for their Pi, and their Pi breaks, would be pretty pee-d off if they couldn't transfer the codec pack to their new Pi. Which of course means you then need to verify that the old Pi really is broken, to stop people claiming illegitimate duplicate licenses. All extra complexity and cost... :|

EDIT: Yeah, pretty much what selsinork said ;)
Last edited by AndrewS on Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Nr90
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Re: Mpeg 2 poll

Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:48 pm

Is it even possible for the pi to read it's serial number?

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