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I am planning to use Ubuntu with a 4k display and a Kaby Lake CPU. Kaby Lake supports hardware accelerated decoding of multiple video codecs. Obviously this also needs matching drivers - does anyone know how the current support state for this hardware acceleration is on Linux/Ubuntu?

Thanks for any hint on this!

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As of 18.04, support for hardware decoding on Kaby Lake is given through the i965-va-driver package. You can check if it works on your system by installing va-driver-all and installing and running vainfo. The output should look similar to this:

> vainfo 
libva info: VA-API version 1.1.0
libva info: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva info: Trying to open /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/dri/i965_drv_video.so
libva info: Found init function __vaDriverInit_1_1
libva info: va_openDriver() returns 0
vainfo: VA-API version: 1.1 (libva 2.1.0)
vainfo: Driver version: Intel i965 driver for Intel(R) Kaby Lake - 2.1.0
vainfo: Supported profile and entrypoints
      VAProfileMPEG2Simple            : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileMPEG2Simple            : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileMPEG2Main              : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileMPEG2Main              : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264ConstrainedBaseline: VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264ConstrainedBaseline: VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264ConstrainedBaseline: VAEntrypointEncSliceLP
      VAProfileH264Main               : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264Main               : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264Main               : VAEntrypointEncSliceLP
      VAProfileH264High               : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264High               : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264High               : VAEntrypointEncSliceLP
      VAProfileH264MultiviewHigh      : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264MultiviewHigh      : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264StereoHigh         : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264StereoHigh         : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileVC1Simple              : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileVC1Main                : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileVC1Advanced            : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileNone                   : VAEntrypointVideoProc
      VAProfileJPEGBaseline           : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileJPEGBaseline           : VAEntrypointEncPicture
      VAProfileVP8Version0_3          : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileVP8Version0_3          : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileHEVCMain               : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileHEVCMain               : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileHEVCMain10             : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileHEVCMain10             : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileVP9Profile0            : VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileVP9Profile0            : VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileVP9Profile2            : VAEntrypointVLD

This is good enough to watch 4K video with dedicated video player programs (e. g. mpv, vlc, totem), even on low power hardware.

However, no web browser on linux supports using VA-API yet, so watching any video from a browser will not use hardware accelerated decoding. Instead, CPU decoding will be used, which, depending on your CPU speed, will or will not work well. On low power laptop hardware you will likely experience stuttering.

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