VA-API  2.19.0
Video Acceleration (VA) API


The main motivation for VA-API (Video Acceleration API) is to enable hardware accelerated video decode and encode at various entry-points (VLD, IDCT, Motion Compensation etc.) for the prevailing coding standards today (MPEG-2, MPEG-4 ASP/H.263, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, VC-1/VMW3, and JPEG, HEVC/H265, VP8, VP9) and video pre/post processing

VA-API is split into several modules:

Multithreading Guide

All VAAPI functions implemented in libva are thread-safe. For any VAAPI function that requires the implementation of a backend (e.g. hardware driver), the backend must ensure that its implementation is also thread-safe. If the backend implementation of a VAAPI function is not thread-safe then this should be considered as a bug against the backend implementation.

It is assumed that none of the VAAPI functions will be called from signal handlers.

Thread-safety in this context means that when VAAPI is being called by multiple concurrent threads, it will not crash or hang the OS, and VAAPI internal data structures will not be corrupted. When multiple threads are operating on the same VAAPI objects, it is the application's responsibility to synchronize these operations in order to generate the expected results. For example, using a single VAContext from multiple threads may generate unexpected results.

Following pseudo code illustrates a multithreaded transcoding scenario, where one thread is handling the decoding operation and another thread is handling the encoding operation, while synchronizing the use of a common pool of surfaces.

// Initialization
dpy = vaGetDisplayDRM(fd);
vaInitialize(dpy, ...);
// Create surfaces required for decoding and subsequence encoding
vaCreateSurfaces(dpy, VA_RT_FORMAT_YUV420, width, height, &surfaces[0], ...);
// Set up a queue for the surfaces shared between decode and encode threads
surface_queue = queue_create();
// Create decode_thread
pthread_create(&decode_thread, NULL, decode, ...);
// Create encode_thread
pthread_create(&encode_thread, NULL, encode, ...);
// Decode thread function
decode() {
// Find the decode entrypoint for H.264
vaQueryConfigEntrypoints(dpy, h264_profile, entrypoints, ...);
// Create a config for H.264 decode
vaCreateConfig(dpy, h264_profile, VAEntrypointVLD, ...);
// Create a context for decode
vaCreateContext(dpy, config, width, height, VA_PROGRESSIVE, surfaces,
num_surfaces, &decode_context);
// Decode frames in the bitstream
for (;;) {
// Parse one frame and decode
vaBeginPicture(dpy, decode_context, surfaces[surface_index]);
vaRenderPicture(dpy, decode_context, buf, ...);
vaEndPicture(dpy, decode_context);
// Poll the decoding status and enqueue the surface in display order after
// decoding is complete
enqueue(surface_queue, surface_index);
// Encode thread function
encode() {
// Find the encode entrypoint for HEVC
vaQueryConfigEntrypoints(dpy, hevc_profile, entrypoints, ...);
// Create a config for HEVC encode
vaCreateConfig(dpy, hevc_profile, VAEntrypointEncSlice, ...);
// Create a context for encode
vaCreateContext(dpy, config, width, height, VA_PROGRESSIVE, surfaces,
num_surfaces, &encode_context);
// Encode frames produced by the decoder
for (;;) {
// Dequeue the surface enqueued by the decoder
surface_index = dequeue(surface_queue);
// Encode using this surface as the source
vaBeginPicture(dpy, encode_context, surfaces[surface_index]);
vaRenderPicture(dpy, encode_context, buf, ...);
vaEndPicture(dpy, encode_context);