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New DivX Video Codec Supports CE Profiles

Software developer DivXNetworks released a new codec this week designed specifically for consumer electronic devices.

As the first full update to their codec tool kit in eight months, the San Diego-based firm said its DivX 5.03 suite of video compression technologies lets developers choose from one of four official DivX Certified consumer electronics profiles when encoding video: Portable, Handheld (PDA), Home Theater (DVD, set top boxes), and High-Definition.

Version 5.03 is available in two versions. The standard DivX 5.03 release is offered for download free of charge, while a professional version of the codec, DivX Pro 5.03, is available for a small one-time charge or through a free ad-supported version.

The DivX says its certification program was created to make sure they are on the same page with third party manufacturers that use their video technologies.

"We believe that the DivX-powered connected home, in which consumers will easily and quickly move high-quality DivX content beyond the PC to a wide range of DivX Certified playback devices, will become a reality in 2003," said DivXNetworks chief marketing officer Kevin Hell. "The release of DivX 5.03 is a very important step in fulfilling this vision. DivX users can now encode content once using the appropriate profile and be assured that their video will play back on their DivX Certified DVD player or portable device at the highest possible quality level."

In addition to support for DivX Certified profiles, the new release contains a number of new features and enhancements, including:

Nth Pass encoding, support for interlaced video, new de-ringing post-processing algorithm, and a Video Buffer Verifier (VBV) model (one and two pass encoding).

The VBV ensures that the maximum peak bit rate never exceeds either the user's inputted "maximum peak" bit rate value or/and ensures that the encoded stream never violates the buffer of an MPEG-4 compliant decoder. This helps to prevent decoding failure in both hardware and software where memory may be limited yet compliant to the MPEG-4 standard as defined in ISO/IEC 14496-2:2001. In order for DivX video to be successfully delivered over a restricted channel in real time to a decoder, the encoder's rate control must ensure that the decoder's buffer is not violated. When this is done properly, then overflow and underflow will never occur and the encoder is said to be "VBV compliant." It makes no difference whether the video is encoded in 1-pass or many, in real-time or offline. It is the encoder's rate control that must ensure compliance.

The company also removed MP4creator and the MPEG-4 file output option due to some compliance issues in this version and fixed several annoyances including a YUV->RGB16 color conversion rounding bug and a few issues with DivX 3.11 compatibility.