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Multimedia on the Raspberry Pi with omxplayer - Page 3

Multimedia on the Raspberry Pi with omxplayer - Page 3

In Operation

As part of our tests, we tried omxplayer with a wide variety of different video files encoded with varying video and audio codecs, resolutions, and bitrates. The Pi's GPU made light work of the vast majority of files we tried with smooth playback and no video tearing evident. Video tearing has, in the past, been a particular bugbear for many Linux users, so to see this was not an issue for the Pi is a welcome relief.

The screenshot below shows the load on the Raspberry Pi when playing a 720p video encoded with the H264 MPEG-4 AVC video codec and the free loseless audio codec (FLAC). As you can see, the Pi copes admirably with 720p.

Raspberry Pi - Streaming 720p file

However, we did witness some issues trying to stream 1080p video files encoded at very high bitrates and the H264 video codec. With the Pi struggling to keep up, the display kept periodicially blanking, and there was some jerkiness in playback. As you can see from the output of top, the video file being played by omxplayer below is really pushing the Raspberry Pi to its limits.

Raspberry Pi - Streaming 1080p file

There are some files that we are unable to play with omxplayer. In particular, MPEG-2 files are not supported. To keep the cost of the Pi down, the Raspberry Pi Foundation did not purchase an MPEG-2 decoding license, so there is no hardware acceleration in the GPU for this format. Unfortunately, the Broadcom CPU does not have sufficient grunt for software decoding of MPEG-2 multimedia.

omxplayer is also competent at playing audio files but the lack of a console or graphical interface with no support for m3u or pls (MP3 ShoutCast) playlists does not make it a particularly pleasurable experience. Streaming mp3s functioned reasonably well.


If you are looking for a good audio player, we would suggest that you use an alternative to omxplayer. But for playing videos, omxplayer offers an excellent experience with its GPU acceleration. We would love to see other video players (particularly vlc, mplayer) ported over to the Raspberry Pi using the capabilities of the GPU. Nevertheless, even with an unofficial image of Raspbian, the Raspberry Pi when teamed up with omxplayer performs admirably as a media centre for such a low cost device.

Back to Introduction

Read ahead

1. Introduction
2. Installing omxplayer & more
3. In Operation & Summary

Last Updated Sunday, June 17 2012 @ 01:26 PM EDT

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