VAAPI provides hardware video decoding on Intel graphics. When I decided to base my new MythTV system around Intel’s new integrated CPU/GPU architecture, I did some research to make sure this worked under Linux and MythTV. As far as I could tell it did, but you never really know until you’ve tried it yourself…

I’m pleased to report that it works brilliantly.

The only caveat is that if you simply select VAAPI from MythFrontend -> Setup -> Video -> Playback it will happily let you do it but it won’t actually use VAAPI unless you have installed the VAAPI driver. This was not obvious on my system because it’s pretty powerful and could play HD pretty well without any acceleration. However, it was taking 40+% CPU, which seemed too high to me.

All you have to do to get it to work is follow the instructions on the MythTV WIKI:

It basically says the following:

Install the appropriate drivers:
sudo apt-get install i965-va-driver libva-intel-vaapi-driver vainfo

Test using:

Use OpenGL or Auto as the painter:
MythFrontend -> Setup -> Appearance, make sure Painter is set to Auto or OpenGL (not Qt)

Select the VAAPI Playback Profile from Mythfrontend:
MythFrontend -> Setup -> Video -> Playback -> (Screen 3/8) -> Select “VAAPI normal” profile in list

Once I’d done this, the CPU usage when playing HD stuff dropped from 40-50% down to around 10%. Live HD TV was also smoother. I’m pretty amazed that this all works so easily and I’d highly recommend going the Intel route if you’re building a new HTPC.