Apple to acquire another Vancouver company?

From what I’ve heard in the tech community in Vancouver, Apple, who just bought Schemasoft, a Vancouver company, may currently be looking at another Vancouver company, a start-up that produces a video codec.

What’s the deal?

Well, apparently, Apple wants to support H.264, the next generation video codec. But there’s a problem. The H.264 codec is so CPU-dependent that even a G5 is not fast/smart/beefy enough to be effective when viewing high definition video.

Why? Well, H.264 crams a ton of video into a very small space … allowing full high-definition video to be broadcast over the web with half the file size of MPEG-2. It buys that small file size at the cost of extreme compression that requires huge CPU cycles to decode.

(AFAIK, a Pentium CPU isn’t much better, if at all. The job is just too much for most, if not all, of today’s consumer-level processors)

So, the start-up Apple’s looking at might be able to help with a codec that compresses an awful lot without requiring as beefy a CPU. Or Apple may be forced to include a specialized video chip.

The rumors have been swirling about Apple and TV, or broadcast, or video, or satellite, or something, anything, as long as someone can report it. And of course, talk of the “video iPod” and the “Apple set-top box” has been around for a year or more.

The truth is that Apple does a ton of things that never see the light of day, or that are held back until a more favorable time … this might be one of them.

But take a Mac Mini, stick a specialized video decoder chip in it, a fat hard drive, stick it on top of a TV, and you might have something interesting.

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