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GStreamer 1.0 plugins for i.MX platforms

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gstreamer-imx

About

This is a set of GStreamer 1.0 plugins for NXP's i.MX platform, which make use of the i.MX multimedia capabilities.

Currently tested on: i.MX6DL, i.MX6Q, i.MX8m, i.MX8m mini, i.MX8 QuadMax

License

These plugins are licensed under the LGPL v2.

Available decoder and encoder elements

There is one decoder element for each format the i.MX SoC supports. The list of supported formats depends on the i.MX variant. For example, if h.264 is supported, there will be a

imxvpudec_h264
element. The same is true of the encoder elements.

For the full list of formats that could theoretically be supported, check out the libimxvpuapi library version 2.1.2 or later.

Elements for hardware accelerated 2D processing

Video transform, video sink, and compositor elements are available that perform their operations using hardware blitters.

The following element types are available (not all are possible with all 2D blitter APIs):

  • videotransform : A combination of scaling, 90-degree-step rotation, horizontal/vertical flipping, and color space conversion operations. These elements are able to render video overlay compositions from GstVideoOverlayCompositionMeta data. They also implement the GstVideoDirection interface and have a "video-direction" property that handles rotation and flipping. Through this property, it is possible to configure these elements to auto-rotate images according to the information in image-orientation tags.
  • videosink : Render video frames to the Linux framebuffer. All operations that videotransform elements can handle (currently except for overlay compositions) can also be handled by these sinks. In addition, tearing-free playback is possible by making use of framebuffer page flipping that is tied to vsync. Aspect ratio can be preserved - excess space on the framebuffer is then letterboxed.
  • compositor : Assembles multiple input video streams into one output frame, just like the standard GStreamer compositor element. Its properties match those of GStreamer's standard compositor, making these 2D blitter compositor elements drop-in replacements for the standard compositor (which doe the compositing with the CPU). The pads in these blitter based compositors have additional properties for rotation, aspect ratio preservation, margins, and margin colors.

NOTE: Compositor elements are only available with GStreamer 1.16 or later. Compositor support in GStreamer 1.14 was not yet in gst-plugins-base and had serious bugs.

NOTE: 2D blitter video sink elements do not work on i.MX8 machines, since these no longer use the older MXC framebuffer driver (which these video sink elements rely on).

The following blitters are supported by these elements:

  • G2D : 2D blitter driven by the Vivante GPU. Available on most i.MX6 and i.MX8 machines. G2D is emulated using the Display Processing Unit (DPU) on the i.MX8 QuadMax and QuadPlus. This is the most flexible of the available APIs, but might consume additional GPU power. There are videosink, videotransform, and compositor elements that use this API.
  • PxP : Pixel Pipeline. Available on some i.MX6 and i.MX7 SoCs. There are videosink and videotransform elements that use this API. Alpha blending with this API is currently tricky, which is why there is no compositor element (yet).
  • IPU : Image Processing Unit. Available on some i.MX6 SoCs. Due to serious limitations of the driver, only a videotransform element based on this hardware is available.

All elements use internal "uploader" code that uploads frames into DMA memory if necessary. If incoming frames are not aligned in a way that is compatible with what the blitters require, internal frame copies are automatically done. These frame copies are CPU-based, so performance may suffer, but otherwise, such frames could not be processed at all.

Special Video4Linux2 elements for i.MX6

The

mxc_v4l2
V4L2 driver on the i.MX6 for various capture devices such as the OmniVision OV5640 is unfortunately severely broken, and requires numerous workarounds in userspace. Furthermore, it contains several i.MX specific extras for working with physical addresses. For that reason, GStreamer's
v4l2src
and
v4l2sink
elements do not work on the i.MX6 for these devices.

To fix this, gstreamer-imx contains two elements that access V4L2 and apply workarounds for the driver issues. These elements are:

  • imxv4l2videosrc
    :
    v4l2src
    equivalent for capturing video frames
  • imxv4l2videosink
    :
    v4l2sink
    equivalent for displaying video frames

NOTE: These elements exist only as a workaround for these driver bugs, since fixing that driver is impractical. They are not meant to be used on any newer i.MX platform, since starting with the i.MX8, a different (and better) driver is used.

The

-Dv4l2
command line switch can be passed to meson to enable / disable this V4L2 plugin. If set to
true
(the default value), it will be enabled.
false
will disable it.

Other elements

  • imxuniaudiodec
    : audio decoder plugin based on NXP's unified audio (UniAudio) architecture
  • imxmp3audioenc
    : MP3 audio encoder plugin based on NXP's MP3 encoder

Integration with GStreamer and other external elements

All DMA buffer allocators that are used by the elements implement the GstPhysMemoryAllocator interface. This makes it possible to integrate them with other GStreamer elements, as long as said elements can make use of the GstPhysMemory functionality to extract physical addresses. In addition, if the i.MX Soc BSP supports ION based DMA buffer allocation, the elements will use an allocator based on GstDmaBufAllocator. This allocator also implemnts the GstPhysMemoryAllocator interface, so with this, it is possible to access the underlying DMA buffer by its DMA-BUF file descriptor and also by its physical address, making integration even easier.

This is also why the old

imxeglvivsink
element from the earlier "v1" branch is not present anymore - it is now unnecessary, since glimagesink and waylandsink both are full replacements.

Furthermore, if applications or other GStreamer elements wish to access some of the gstreamer-imx specific functionality (particularly its allocators and interfaces), the gstimxcommon library can be used for this purpose, since its API is public.

Dependencies

  • GStreamer version 1.14 or later (compositor elements and NV12_10LE40 format support require 1.16 or later)
  • libimxdmabuffer version 1.0.1 or later
  • libimxvpuapi version 2.1.1 or later

Also, the

videoparsersbad
plugin from the
gst-plugins-bad
package in GStreamer is needed, since this plugin contains video parsers like
h265parse
,
h264parse
,
mpegvideoparse
(for MPEG1 and MPEG2), and
mpeg4videoparse
(for MPEG4).

You must also use a Linux kernel with i.MX additions for i.MX specific subsystems such as the VPU, IPU, PxP etc. Such kernels are typically referred to as "imx-kernels".

Building and installing

gstreamer-imx uses meson as its build system. Amongst other reasons, this makes integration with existing GStreamer build setups easier, such as Cerbero.

At least version 0.54.0 is required. (Older versions can (partially) work, but build scripts may require changes/workarounds.)

First, set up the necessary cross compilation configuration for meson.

Then, create a build directory for an out-of-tree build:

make build
cd build

Now set up the build by running meson:

meson ..

You might want to look into the

--buildtype=plain
flag if the compiler flags Meson adds are a problem. This is particularly useful for packagers. Read here for more.

Also, you might be interested in the

-Dprefix
and
-Dlibdir
arguments to control where to install the resulting binaries. Again, this is particularly useful for packagers.

Finally, build and install the code by running ninja:

ninja install

Build options

The following meson configuration options are available. Use them with the

-D
flag. For example, to set the
vpu
option to "true", specify
-Dvpu=enabled
.

See the Meson documentation about build option types to understand what values can be passed to these options.

Since most options are of type

feature
, this is the type in use unless a different type is explicitly defined in the list below.
  • vpu
    : VPU en/decoder elements.
  • uniaudiodec
    : The
    imxuniaudiodec
    element.
  • mp3encoder
    : The
    imxmp3audioenc
    element.
  • g2d
    : 2D blitter elements based on the Vivante G2D API.
  • g2d-based-on-dpu
    : Special option for use with i.MX8 QuadMax and QuadPlus SoCs. G2D is emulated via the DPU on these machines. The DPU behaves somewhat differently. It is recommended to set this option to
    true
    on these SoCs for better performance. On all other SoCs, this must be set to
    false
    (the default value). Type:
    boolean
    .
  • ipu
    : 2D blitter elements based on the NXP Image Processing Unit (IPU).
  • pxp
    : 2D blitter elements based on the NXP Pixel Pipeline (PxP).
  • imx-headers-path
    : Path to extra imx kernel headers. These are used for IPU and PxP code. The build scripts attempt to autodetect this path, so specifying this typically is not necessary. Type:
    string
    .
  • imx2d-videosink
    : Enables/disables building 2D blitter video sink elements. Default value is
    true
    . Setting this to
    false
    makes sense on i.MX8 machines, since rendering to the framebuffer is not possible on those. Type:
    boolean
    .
  • imx2d-compositor
    : Enables/disables building 2D blitter compositor elements. Type:
    boolean
    .
  • v4l2
    : Enables/disables building the custom Video4Linux2 source / sink elements. See the Video4Linux2 section above for details. Type:
    boolean
    .
  • package-name
    : GStreamer package name to use in the plugins. Type:
    string
    .
  • package-origin
    : GStreamer package origin to use in the plugins. Type:
    string
    .

TODO

  • Android support
  • Debian packaging support
  • More documentation in wiki

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