GSoC takes on XBMC on the Beagleboard

Imagine a tiny little device that you velcro to the back of your TV that delivers all of the media found on your home network. We’ve been dreaming about that since we saw early working examples of XBMC running on a Beagleboard. We’ve heard little about it since then but now there’s cause for hope. XBMC optimization for the Beagleboard has been approved as a Google Summer of Code project. The fruits of these projects tend to take a year or so to ripen, but we don’t mind the wait.

[Topfs2] is the student coder on the project and will be posting weekly updates as well as idling in IRC so if you’re interested in lending a hand with testing or words of support you should drop him a line.

[Beagleboard photo: Koenkooi]

22 thoughts on “GSoC takes on XBMC on the Beagleboard

  1. I remember when we had issues getting xbmc to run on pc’s and it was just considered a ‘skinning tool’ for the xbox side,its come a long way this is wonderful. Good luck guys.

  2. XBMC rocks. They should sell hardware… something that will do 1080p, hdmi (possible component/composite too), toslink, IR receiver, bunch of usb ports, wireless n… probably left stuff out but that would be sweet.

  3. And it still wont play HD so it’s useless.

    I can velcro a ion based nettop to the back of my TV and get 1080p HD and storage inside it with XBMC live installed that takes -1 effort.

  4. It looks like the beagleboard should be able to do 1080P H264 baseline video.

    the “HD video capable TMS320C64x+ DSP for versatile signal processing at up to 430MHz” of course that means things like mplayer or vlc or va-api need to support that chip.

    Now of course all of my h264 dvd rips are the 4.1 high profile, and they cause the fans in my ps3 to spinup, but they do look nice. As for this it will be a benefit to users of even x86 as it will lower the cpu consumption of the menus.

  5. Totally the wrong hardware for such a project. While the BB can do 720 and 1080 modes, it’s CPU is too anemic to handle full movie quality h.264. They should have started this project on a WDTV which has hardware acceleration.

  6. @Mikey It can, but I don’t believe anyones gotten 1080P decoding. The GSOC project page even says they won’t get it on this hw rev.

    People do talk about it on the BB lists a fair bit.

  7. Is a digital movie player all that XBMC is good for? Can you really tell the difference between 720 and 1080?

    I feel that if you answer ‘yes’, you’re out of the category of who the BB+XBMC is meant for. Small, quiet, cool, cheap platform. Powerful enough for cool stuff besides just watching movies. If you have a big tv, you probably already have the ability to watch nice videos on it.. though streaming stuff over the network is quite nice (running XBMC to do just that at a friend’s place).

  8. I dunno about 1080p but Hardly Normal was selling little media-center boxes for about $100 a few weeks ago. I’m not sure about network, but they could play movies off USB media. Probably an easy appliance-type compromise if you just want something that will “just work”.

  9. The beagleboard is limited to 720p output resolutions, so it’s useless to argue the power of the DSP, when it’s impossible to display 1080p res out of the HDMI connector.

    This would have been interesting 2 years ago, before the Ion setups (like Acer’s Revo) which comes in around the same price as the BeagleBoard and before the dozen or so dedicated media players based on Realtek’s MIPs architecture, which sell for about half the price of the BeagleBoard.

    I was discussing with a friend about a year ago, working on making the BeagleBoard into a media player. I ended up buying Patriot’s streaming box (which supports an internal 3.5″ drive) and my friend bought an Acer revo. Very little work involved to “just work” but plenty of opportunity for hacking.

    This work is still interesting, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little late.

  10. @h3llphyre:

    Plenty of opportunity for hacking??

    It’s a frustrating world – there are affordable general purpose computing devices with whole source trees available like the BB, but they don’t have enough grunt for modern video, and then there are the RTD1073 (etc) boxes that do have the grunt, but they’re never fully open (eg. due to use of chipset suppliers proprietary SDKs).

    So either way so you can’t do your own thing with them, and there’s not nearly enough opportunity for hacking as there could/should be.

    Unless you know of exceptions to the rule?

  11. @Tane

    I seriously doubt that the people that only care about their devices ‘just working’ are going to be even reading this post let alone considering it is a project…

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