Software-only digital video involves the compression, decompression, rendering, and display of digital video on general-purpose computers without specialized hardware. Today’s faster processors are making software-only video an attractive, low-cost alternative to hardware solutions that rely on specialized compression boards and graphics accelerators. This paper describes the building blocks behind popular ISO, ITU-T, and industry-standard compression schemes, along with some novel algorithms for fast video rendering and presentation. A platform-independent software architecture that organizes the functionality of compressors and renderers into a unifying software interface is presented. This architecture has been successfully implemented on Microsoft’s Windows NT operating systems. To maximize the performance of codecs and renderers, issues pertaining to flow control, optimal use of available resources, and optimizations at the algorithmic, operating-system, and processor levels are considered.


Digital video, Video compression, Video decompression, Rendering