Open-source Radeon Unified Video Decoder08. Jul '13

This is a follow up for my previous post about hardware video decoding on AMD Radeon. Phoronix writes that AMD had a huge codedrop for Radeon and kernel/Mesa3D guys have been busy merging those changes. With Linux kernel 3.10, upcoming Mesa 9.2 and proper firmware blob from AMD we should expect to see AMD Radeon UVD (Unified Video Decoder) working with mostly open-source software stack, thus freeing us from the buggy AMD Catalyst driver.

So first of all the kernel, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) features kernel 3.5 and Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) features kernel 3.8. In those cases you might try to fetch the 3.10 tarball and compile it yourself. Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander) ships with 3.10 so no extra hassle there.

Secondly the Mesa driver, Ubuntu 13.10 feature freeze is not there yet, so we might see those Mesa changesets there eventually but currently you have to do a git clone and manually install from the source.

Thirdly and finally, the firmware - My Zacate based AMD E-450 processor featuring Radeon 6320 graphics requires SUMO2_uvd.bin which should be placed in /lib/firmware/radeon. In Ubuntu 13.10 the firmware blob seems to be there but appearently any previous releases are missing it, fortunately you can fetch the blobs from

Following snippets assume Ubuntu 13.10 alpha installation:

Install Mesa dependencies:

sudo apt-get install \
    build-essential \
    git \
    autoconf \
    bison \
    libxcb-xfixes0-dev \
    libudev-dev \
    libvdpau-dev \
    llvm \
sudo apt-get build-dep mesa

Clone Mesa Git repository:

git clone git://

Run autotools, configure and make:

CFLAGS="-O3 -march=native" CXXFLAGS=$CFLAGS ./configure \
    --with-dri-drivers=radeon \
    --with-gallium-drivers=r600 \
    --enable-vdpau \
make -j4
sudo make install

Reconfigure linker:

echo -en "/usr/local/lib/dri\n/usr/local/lib/vdpau" | sudo tee /etc/
sudo ldconfig

VLC shipped with Ubuntu does not support VDPAU, but mplayer with it's neat graphical user interface wrapper smplayer will do just fine:

sudo apt-get install mplayer2 smplayer

If you find that the HDMI audio output is disabled, try passing the Radeon kernel module extra argument:

sudo sed -i -e 's/GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="/GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=" /g' /etc/default/grub
sudo update-grub
sudo reboot

Final step is to tell mplayer to pipe encoded video stream to the hardware decoder. If you're going to use just the SMplayer frontend, set the video output driver to "vdpau".

echo "vc=ffh264vdpau,ffmpeg12vdpau,ffvc1vdpau,ffwmv3vdpau" >> ~/.mplayer/config
echo "vo=vdpau,xv" >> ~/.mplayer/config

The processor load for 1080p playback is neat 10-20% compared to the 30-60% of the proprietary AMD Catalyst and XvBA combo.