Speed up Chromium (Linux) with VAAPI on ubuntu – a first look

Chromium Browser does not have hardware accelerated video decoding enabled by default (also Google Chrome). Fedora recently published Chromium with GPU decoding enabled (https://fedoramagazine.org/chromium-on-fedora-finally-gets-vaapi-support/), now there is also a Chromium Snap-Package with Video Acceleration API support for giving it a try on *buntu.

Why ? Smoother video playback and less CPU resources used 🙂 (and maybe some feedback to the developers if problems occur).

Ubuntu developer Olivier Tilloy created the VA-API enabled Snap and it’s available here: https://code.launchpad.net/~osomon/+snap/chromium-snap-from-source-enable-vaapi?_ga=2.8470321.583249682.1548065371-1544747127.1545400671

Having a look at Chromium without VA-API

Let’s have a deeper look using Youtube on Kubuntu 18.04. Normally YT streams VP9 (videoformat) and does not use hardware decoding (so no use of GPU capabilities). How to check this ? Open a Tab with the URL:

chrome://media-internals/

and a second Tab open Youtube and play a video. The media-internals Tab will show some nice technical information. Also do the same with „h264ify“ extension installed. YT will afterwards stream in h264.

Install Chromium Snap with VA-API enbaled

sudo snap install --channel=candidate/vaapi chromium

Start Chromium snap:

snap run chromium

Let’s give the GPU decoding a try:

Doing the same like before with „normal“ Chromium won’t show any difference because of the VP9-Streaming. Install h264ify extension to your VAAPI-Chromium-Snap for h264 streaming by YT (and support for GPU-decoding).

Now the media-internals should look like this („GPUvideodecoder“):

Background information:

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Chrome-No-2018-Linux-GPU-Accel

My experience:

Having a test-run on 3 different systems (1 with intel onboard graphics, 2 with AMD CPU/GPU), it worked fine on 2 systems, but on the system with AMD A8 PRO-7150B R5 (10 Compute Cores 4C+6G) and integrated AMD Kaveri graphics the video had some funny colors 😉