Get Started with the Intel® Media Accelerator Reference Software

How Intel® Media Accelerator Reference Software Works on Windows* and Linux*

Intel® Media Accelerator Reference Software is a reference implementation for media processing using the Intel® Quick Sync Video technology and compositing using Intel® Graphics Technology

On the Windows* platform, the reference implementation is developed using Microsoft* Media Foundation to create the media processing pipeline and calls Intel® Media SDK API for media to decode, encode and video processing in the Intel® graphics hardware. It utilizes Microsoft DirectX* for compositing and rendering.

On Linux*, the reference implementation takes advantage of VA-API and QSV API via FFMPEG and Weston Wayland compositor to create a pipeline for video ingestion, processing, compositing and rendering.

Feature Highlights

  • Interactive GUI to build various screen layouts for single or multiple custom media pipeline on a variety of workloads
  • Multiple displays, up to three, which can be different, tiled, or identical
  • 4K or Ultra High Definition (UHD) Resolution
  • Landscape and Portrait Mode
  • Support for Ticker Text, RSS Feed, Image input
  • Video overlay and Alpha Blending
  • Source Code Access under Intel proprietary license

Windows* System Requirements

  • OS: Windows® 10 RS3 onwards
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ processor family, Intel® Xeon E3 processor, or Intel Atom® processor (Apollo Lake)
  • RAM: 8GB (2x 4GB)
  • Hard Disk: 80GB
  • Drivers: Intel® Graphics Driver and Intel® Management Engine driver 

Linux* System Requirements

  • OS: Ubuntu* 16 LTS
  • CPU: Intel Core processor family, Intel Xeon E3 processor, or Intel Atom Processor (Apollo Lake)
  • RAM: 8GB (2x 4GB)
  • Hard Disk: 80GB
  • Drivers: Intel Graphics Driver, Open Source version

M.A.R.S supports Windows 10, 64-bit and runs on the following Intel® platforms

  • Intel 6th Generation Core
  • Intel 7th Generation Core
  • Intel Atom Processor (Apollo Lake)
  • Intel Atom Processor (Braswell)

Get Started

Follow these steps to begin working with Intel Media Accelerator Reference Software.

Download and Set Up

The Intel Media Accelerator Reference Software release kit is available at this site.

You’ll need to contact your Intel representative to receive a serial number to register for Intel Media Accelerator Reference Software.

Once you have your serial number, enter the serial number into the box shown in the screenshot below:

Upon registration of serial number, Intel® Media Accelerator Reference Software Beta will appear available for selection.

By clicking Intel® Media Accelerator Reference Software Beta the different options available for Windows and Linux platforms will be displayed. 

Once you have chosen a download option and the package has downloaded, you can use any of the popular unzipping applications to unzip the content.

Running Basic Configurations

To start playing around with the software launch the M.A.R.S application by typing MARS into the Windows search bar and clicking the M.A.R.S desktop application when it appears.

When the application launches the default Full HD configuration will appear, displaying multiple overlapping zones containing components such as videos, tickers and images.

To open the M.A.R.S configuration GUI press the s key on your keyboard. The current configuration is displayed in the top pane. Below this is the Display Unit Configuration options that allow you to define orientation, resolution and audio output for all connected displays. Below this is the main layout configuration area which you’ll use to define zones and place them in the available spaces on the display unit.

Clicking on a zone in the Zone Configuration pane on the right-hand side will populate, enabling you to configure different options based on the content type you have selected. If the zone has overlapping zones these will be shown in the Overlapped Zones pane on the left-hand side, and therefore can still be selected when not visible in the Visible Zones pane.

Once you have finished making changes to the configuration of the various zones you can test this by clicking the Finish button in the navigation pane at the bottom of the GUI. The Exit button closes the application when in the configuration GUI.  Additionally, you can also press q on your keyboard to exit the application when not in the configuration GUI.

Running Sample Configuration (4K Configuration)

The default configuration for M.A.R.S is designed for displays with a resolution of 1920x1080 and does not fill the 4K resolution displays you are currently using. You’ll now be shown how to create a new configuration designed for a resolution of 3840x2160.

To begin, select the New Config button in the bottom pane, then update the Resolution configuration of the display unit by changing the width to 3840 and height to 2160 and then clicking on the Visible Zones pane to expand your working area.

Next, add a new zone by selecting the Add Zone button, you’ll see Zone 1 appear in the Visible Zones window and will have the capability to drag the zone around the display unit working area and resize it by dragging the corners of the zone. You’ll want to make this zone fill the entire display, to do this hold down the Ctrl key and click on the zone, this will automatically size the zone to fill the available space.

Next, you’ll need to configure the zone content, this is the zone where you’ll be playing back video content, so this zone should be the default. To make sure this is the case, check that Content is set to Video and Hardware Acceleration is ticked (as shown in the screenshot below). You can play around with the rest of the configuration options later on.

Next, you’ll need to let M.A.R.S know what content to play in this zone, to do this click the .. button next to the FileName field to open an explorer window. You’ll find some sample content in the Samples directory on the Desktop that you can use for testing this out. As this is a 4K zone, select the City-UHD-60FPS-HEVC-12.2Mbps-Landscape.mp4 file which is a 60FPS HEVC 4K video file and the Add button. The file should then appear in the box below (as shown in the screenshot below).

Before testing, make sure to click the Save button and give your configuration file a name. This will save your configuration in XML format to disk so you can reload it into M.A.R.S at any time.

Once saving, you are ready to test your current configuration by clicking the Finish button in the M.A.R.S interface. At this stage, you only have a very simple video player, so it’s time to add some more zones. To get back to the configuration GUI press the s key on your keyboard.

To add an additional video zone, click the Add Zone button, you can make this zone as big or small as you like, but the width we would recommend to maintain the correct aspect ratio of the video is Height 540 and Width 960.

In its current state, this zone will overlap with your main video zone, adding a border helps to avoid this and make it stand out. To do this set the Border configuration option to ON, this will give you some additional configuration options.

Next, you’ll need to set the content for the zone. This can be done by selecting the bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_normal.mp4 file in the Samples directory on the Desktop and clicking Add as you did previously. You should now have a layout similar to the screenshot below.

Click Save and Finish to test your configuration.  

Note: To get back to the configuration GUI press the s key on your keyboard.

Next, you’ll add an RSS Feed to display dynamic content along the bottom of the screen. You do this by clicking the Add Zone button to add a third zone to your layout, drag this zone to the bottom left corner of the screen and then resize it to the entire width of the display by dragging the right edge of the zone. You’ll also need to resize the height of the zone by dragging the top edge to make it as thin as possible. You also have the option to manually set the Height to 83 and Width to 3840 in the zone configuration panel. Your layout should now look like the screenshot below.

To configure Zone 3 you’ll need to update the following zone configuration parameters and set the text and background color to a color of your choice.

Once you have updated the zone configuration parameters once again click Save and then Finish to see the configuration in action.

Hopefully, this guide has given you a basic idea of the workflow and functionality of M.A.R.S. We recommend to continue adding zones and playing with the available configuration options to familiarize yourself with the software.

Learn more with the Intel® Media Accelerator Reference Software Linux Getting Started Guide, or Windows Getting Started Guide.

For more complete information about compiler optimizations, see our Optimization Notice.