Ogg Vorbis and Maemo 5; technical standpoint

Apparently there’s renewed discussion regarding Nokia’s support for Ogg Vorbis on the next platform. I can only comment on the technical side of things.

We will be using the OMAP3 chip, which has an ARM Cortex A8 processor, which has NEON technology. This allows for many optimizations of multimedia software, so audio decoders can run on the ARM processor without draining the battery, in fact that’s what we are aiming at in our architecture.

That means people can start optimizing Ogg Vorbis software using NEON technology and when the next device comes, Vorbis won’t be a second-class citizen; it won’t drain the battery (if properly optimized). GCC optimizations and Orc runtime compiler can be used, or the traditional manual assembly.

Now, if that doesn’t seem enough; Texas Instruments is opening more stuff for DSP development. So it would be easier to develop a DSP Ogg Vorbis decoder.

In fact, Nokia is moving a way from the home-made dsp-gateway, and will use TI’s dsp-bridge, which is being merged upstream. That means third-party DSP nodes would be able to run unmodified in other devices, not just Nokia Maemo devices.

You can already get your hands dirty with the next technology by using the Beagle Board, whatever works there, will work on the next device.

I understand the frustration people feel regarding Ogg Vorbis, but from the trenches the only thing we can do is push for better third-party codec support, for which there is progress.

13 thoughts on “Ogg Vorbis and Maemo 5; technical standpoint

  1. Third-party support is not really acceptable, whether it’s accelerated or not. Supporting open, royalty-free media codecs should be considered essential part of being part of open source ecosystem, so the only acceptable solution is IMHO that the vendor supports those officially.

    From a business point of view, maybe acceptable reason would be for the users to be able to view media used in Wikimedia projects like Wikipedia out-of-the-box. Wikipedia is a top-10 site after all, and the amound of sound/video media is increasing. With the Firefox 3.1 supporting Ogg codecs on every platform, the media support is anyway opening to a whole new part of the population.

    There are not too many obstacles in Nokia being a good open source citizen, but currently the few that linger are a bit too much. The UI can stay proprietary by all means, and Skype & co. can stay if they just can be removed, but the lack of this Ogg support I cannot accept. There is some advancement on the closed driver issues like WLAN, so I hope this one could be resolved too, finally.


  2. I agree with you Timo, but we are mere engineers, and the decision is not in our hands.

    We do what we can towards proper Ogg Vorbis support, but as Quim mentions in the bug report, this is not the place to convince business people.

    My suggestion is: think as a business people; why would you avoid Ogg Vorbis support? How would you get convinced to add it?

    As a general rule; business people care about the money.


  3. But why Ogg? and not AAC?
    They are both equally good for Low Bitrate. I know it is debatable. But let just say they are equal.


  4. Because a) lots of people already has ogg content; b) AAC is not a free codec and c) the quality issues may be debated endlessly, but everybody will remain with his own opinion.

    AAC is a pariah in the opensource world due to its patented nature. There are no good apps to encode to AAC, not every player supports it and so on.


  5. > There are no good apps to encode to AAC,
    > not every player supports it and so on.
    And damn, AAC has bunch of subflavors. AAC-LC is easiest and most supported. However AAC-LC definitely sucks when compared to OGG. AAC-HE? Comparable with OGG. More complex and not each and every device claiming AAC support supports it. AAC Plus? And other kinds? I even have no idea which my devices support ’em and which are not. So, what the hell I need all this crap with dozen of sub-formats if I can’t be sure each my device claiming AAC support will play randomly chosen AAC file? I first have to learn “which exactly AAC my device plays” and “what exactly this file is?”. With OGG I have ONE format. Now and forever. There is TONS of device vendors who supports OGG. Nokia however prefers to ignore customer requests and output some moron comments from asses of their damn managers and marketing stuff (ugh, STUFF!). How smart! Hey, Nokia, do you care to explain how it comes that Cowon, Creative and bunch of other vendors can support OGG without fear of any crap and Nokia can not?Ignoring user’s requests surely sucks!Why the hell I should remember to Nokia than customer is always right? It is I am, the customer who pays moneys. Why Nokia ignores popular customer requests, then?


  6. Here goes a “business-oriented” argument: Android-based phones support ogg-vorbis out of the box. How come Nokia doesn’t care about competitors’ offer?


  7. Bruno: Android is a platform, companies can take the platform and strip features they don’t use, like Ogg Vorbis support.

    I know Android has it, but does the G1 supports it? A quick googling suggest that it does.

    A good argument indeed, I’ll be sure to use it as soon as I can 🙂


  8. I will only buy products that support ogg after 4 years using open source. Anything beside opensource is entirely not considered!


  9. Wilson: define support. Maemo devices can play Ogg Vorbis just fine. It has been always important in our architecture to support 3rd party codecs.


  10. It is odd to me that the cheapest (free!), best defined and codec with best reference implementations is NOT the default choice.

    Even my cheap iRiver does OGG and Flac out of the box perfectly.

    If you’re going to use patented, closed-source codecs you might as well do the whole Apple mistake and go iTunes; because who doesn’t want an overly complex, proprietary, non-free, non-standard solution? 😉


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