Open source media player VLC is known as a Swiss Army knife of video players. It can handle pretty much any DRM-free video format you can throw at it, from WMV to MKV, with a little H.264, Xvid and DiVX thrown in for good measure. The folks behind VLC just rolled out version 1.1 with support for Google’s new WebM format. But that’s not the only trick up its sleeve. VLC 1.1 also supports hardware video accleration.
What that means is that if you have supported hardware, VLC will use the GPU to accelerate video playback, thus reducing the CPU load significantly.
In order to take advantage of the new hardware acceleration you’re going to need a machine with an NVIDIA graphics processor, so if you’ve got an NVIDIA ION-powered device you should be good to go. If you’ve got integrated Intel graphics or an ATI graphics processor, you might have to wait a while. ATI support should come after the company updates its drivers, and Intel support should come after the VLC team gets to spend some time with Intel hardware that supports GPU decoding — although I suspect that won’t include Intel Atom chips with integrated graphics.
GPU acceleration is also limited to the Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Linux versions of VLC 1.1.
For a complete list of new features in VLC 1.1, check out the VLC home page. The team has also added support for new audio and video codecs, as well as a new framework that will allow coders to write extensions for VLC.