Khronos Group Releases OpenMAX AL Specification for Application-Level Video, Audio and Image Processing on Mobile and Handheld Devices

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Brings Extensive Media Playback, Recording and Processing Functionality to Any Platform and Operating System; Integration with OpenSL ES for 3D Sound in Multimedia and Gaming Applications

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Khronos™ Group (Beaverton, OR) today announced it has publicly released the OpenMAX™ AL 1.1 specification, a royalty-free, cross-platform C-language API (Application Programming Interface) for high-performance multimedia applications on mobile and embedded devices.

OpenMAX AL (Application Layer) enables native applications to be portable across multiple operating systems and hardware platforms by providing an extensive application-level API that enables high-level abstraction for comprehensive audio-visual media functionality. OpenMAX AL allows applications to run on both hardware-accelerated systems as well as software-based media solutions.

OpenMAX AL provides the ability to create and control player and recorder objects, connecting them to configurable input and output objects. Inputs and outputs include content readers and writers, headphones, loudspeakers, microphones, display windows, cameras, haptics, broadcast radios, LEDs and many other types of A/V devices.

OpenMAX AL has been designed by many of the leading industry audio, video and photography experts across a range of industries to provide access to a broad array of media functionality, which includes:

  • Media playback: Includes playback of PCM audio, encoded audio, MIDI ringtones, UI sounds and encoded video and image content as well as extraction of metadata embedded in the media content. Video playback refers to support for synchronized audio/video playback. Image playback refers to the decoding and display of compressed image data.
  • Media recording: Includes support for the recording of audio and video, as well as image capture. Video recording refers to support for synchronized audio/video recording. Image capture refers to camera functionality.
  • Effects and controls: For audio, this includes support for general controls such as volume and balance, and music player effects such as equalizer. For image and video, this includes support for gamma adjustments and controlling the brightness and contrast.

Optional functionality includes:

  • MIDI: Includes support for SP-MIDI, mobile DLS and mobile XMF.
  • Analog Radio: Includes support for analog radio tuning as well as support for RDS/RBDS content.
  • LED array: Includes support for controlling multiple colored LED arrays.
  • Vibration device (“vibra”): Includes support for controlling vibration device intensity and frequency.
  • A Digital TV (DTV) extension (see separate Khronos announcement, January 18, 2011)

This version of the API has specific provisions for deep integration with OpenSL ES™ 1.1 (also announced January 18, 2011 – see separate Khronos press release) to enable mobile multimedia with 3D sound, as well as standard stereo and even MIDI for older-generation mobile devices.

OpenMAX AL has audio features such as an analog radio tuner and RDS, and video and image capture/rendering features that are not part of OpenSL ES. Similarly, OpenSL ES has advanced audio features such as effects (reverberation, stereo widening, bass boost, etc.) and positional 3D audio that are not part of OpenMAX AL.

OpenMAX AL is the highest layer of the OpenMAX family of APIs for multimedia acceleration and application development. In addition, Khronos also provides the OpenMAX IL (Integration Layer) API that defines a low-level abstraction to codecs, file manipulations, transformations and peripheral components on a system.

The OpenMAX AL specification is immediately available for download and may be used royalty-free by implementers and developers. A paid Adopters Program for OpenMAX AL is also available immediately which provides extensive conformance tests to ensure cross-implementation consistency and a trademark license for conformant implementations.

A number of leading companies have worked on the OpenMAX AL 1.1 specification, including: AMD®, Creative®, Ericsson®, Google®, Nokia®, NVIDIA®, Qualcomm® and SRS Labs, Inc.

“OpenMAX AL represents a cornerstone effort by Khronos to standardize multimedia portability across any mobile device. OpenMAX AL and its integration with OpenSL ES bring a rich new multimedia and audio foundation for developers to build upon,” said Yeshwant Muthusamy, a Technology Manager at Nokia® and Chair of the OpenMAX AL Working Group at Khronos.

“OpenMAX AL allows applications to take advantage of the powerful underlying streaming media engine without having to deal with the complexity of the system architecture,” said Erik Noreke, Chair of the OpenSL ES Working Group and an Independent Standardization Specialist. “OpenMAX AL allows application developers to focus on building an even greater user multimedia experience instead of spending time navigating the intricacies of the underlying system and porting between platforms.”