Jan 142013
 

… which are not encoded. That (sadly) rules out commercial discs … at the moment – a solution should be available soon. But – the power to play BluRay is there. Read on for a how-to and for a test ISO you can test your Pi with.

Blu-ray_disc_(BD-RE)

How-To

  • We used our BluRay burner to burn a BluRay ISO with unencoded content (see below for more information about it)
  • To play the disc we used (the newest) BerryBoot with OpenELEC. Other distributions, like Raspbmc may also work – we’re interested in your feedback!
  • And an external powered USB Hub (important!) to provide sufficient power to the BluRay burner
  • Of course we use only 512 MB Raspberry Pi’s for our tests. The same ones you can buy from our shop.
  • BluRay decoding needs VC-1 and MPEG-2 codecs (both are in the standard). You can buy a codec package for the Raspberry Pi from our store. Please note, that the disc we have tested with could work without the codecs, as it is being encoded to MPEG-4 (which is available in hardware by default).
  • For good performance it is important to give the GPU more RAM. Else you may see buffer underruns and sluggish playback. We saw good results with a memory split of 256 MB / 256 MB:

Add to your config.txt:

gpu_mem=256

  • The title content may playback when you press the “Play Disc” menu entry
  • OpenELEC does not support the BluRay menus on the Raspberry Pi (yet). Thus, you will need to play the other titles on the disc manually.
    • Enter the Videos -> Files menu, select the BluRay (i.e. “x264 Demo Blu-Ray”),
    • Select the “BDMV” folder
    • Select “STREAM”
    • Here are the BluRay’s Video Streams. Open and play by doubleclicking.

Our test BluRay

A developer working on x264 (a free encoder to encode content into MPEG-4 AVC), has released a BluRay image containing open material (Big Buck Bunny, Elephants Dream, and live action footage by Microsoft). This image is a bit over 2 GB in size, and can also be burned to a blank DVD disc. If burned to DVD, most BluRay players should still recognize it as BluRay (because of the special format). We have used a blanc BluRay to burn to, and test with.

Click here for the full article.

Download ~ 2 GB (Torrent – you need a Torrent client to download this!)

Q&A

Is USB 2.0 fast enough for BluRay playback?

USB 2.0 has a data rate of 480 MBit/s. The content stream of a BluRay, including all camera perspectives and audio tracks is limited to a data rate of 54 Mbit/s, or “1,6 x speed” – which has to be supported by all BluRay video playback hardware.

“1 x speed” equals a data rate of 36 Mbit/s. 6 x speed (the max. speed our BluRay writer can read) equals 216 Mbit/s. Thus USB 2.0 has more than ample resources to handle BluRay playback and burning, even if you consider protocol overhead and other devices on the same bus (i.e. the LAN of the Raspberry Pi).

Will I be able to play my commercially bought BluRay movies on the Raspberry Pi?

Not directly. The movies are encoded, and the keys are available to certified software / hardware vendors only. Even if the keys were known (some of them are), the ARM processor of the Raspberry would need to decode the stream. I am currently not sure, whether it is “fast enough” to do it. (the video is decoded in hardware, but maybe the Broadcom SoC also has some BluRay decoding capabilities?)

There are reports of software which allows you to back up your BluRay Discs. These backed up files should play on the Pi, although we have not tested that yet. Have a look at this guide.

Does OpenELEC support the BluRay audio formats?

We have the following codecs working:

  • DTS  HD Master Audio
  • Dolby Digital

which is used on over 50 % of BluRays, according to Wikipedia. We still have to test the other codecs.

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