Apple introduces new 21.5 and 27-inch iMac

Hardware encoding on the new Macs

Robert Cringely, author of Accidental Empires and an InfoWorld columnist, indicates that Apple could include hardware H.264 video encoding throughout its PC product line to support iTunes and its video distribution.

The H.264 codec (encoder / decoder) is part of Apple’s QuickTime technology and is used, among other things, in the iTunes video download service.

Cringley indicates that until now computers have relied heavily on decoding software, but that the inclusion of hardware video decoding would mean that any computer could perform this task regardless of how much memory it had.

According to Cringley, “before long, any equipment (even the most modest ones) will be able to record one or more video signals in the background while the user is using another application.”

He goes on to say, “In the YouTube world, new Macs can be a boon for user-produced videos, who will actually help promote the H.264 standard.”

He concludes by saying, “Add higher video performance to the iChat video conferencing client and any of the new Macs will turn into a webcam or videophone.”