Skip to main content

OpenMAX IL Overview


The Standard for Media Library Portability

OpenMAX™ IL is a royalty-free API that allows accelerated multimedia applications to be developed and deployed across multiple operating systems and platforms. The OpenMAX IL API allows library and codec implementers to rapidly and effectively utilize the full acceleration potential of new silicon, regardless of the underlying hardware architecture.

OpenMAX IL 1.1 at a glance

The OpenMAX IL (Integration Layer) API defines a standardized media component interface to enable developers and platform providers to integrate and communicate with multimedia codecs implemented in hardware or software.

  • The OpenMAX IL 1.1.2 specification and header files are available in the Khronos Registry
  • OpenMAX IL component sample This source code is provided as a sample implementation of a base-profile OpenMAX IL component. Although it passed OpenMAX IL conformance tests at the time of publication, this code does not mandate how OpenMAX IL should be implemented; it is simply one example of how OpenMAX IL may be implemented. Because this sample is not being actively maintained and the conformance tests may evolve over time in subsequent revisions, it is possible that this sample will not pass all base profile conformance tests in the future.

OpenMAX IL 1.0


Consumers are demanding more video, audio, voice, and 3D functionality on smartphones, audio and video media players, and games consoles. Meeting these demands requires high-performance processing and high data throughput. Several solutions have evolved to accelerate multimedia applications, such as:

  • General purpose processors with specific multimedia extensions
  • Low level hardware accelerators
  • Multiple processor architectures including DSPs
  • Dedicated hardware video decoders

Developers have been struggling to support all these various architectures. Even though compilers are generally provided, developers often find it difficult to exploit the full potential of the architecture from a high-level programming language. The proliferation of different multimedia hardware solutions has meant that software must be re-written and optimized for each new platform that it is ported to.

The burden of developing for multiple architectures leads to delays in introducing new products, increased development costs, and reduced product quality. This slows innovation, at a time when market demand continues to grow.

An Open Standard

The Khronos Group created the OpenMAX Working Group to define a set of standard, open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for multimedia middleware, to reduce the cost and complexity of porting multimedia components to new processors and architectures.

Rather than repeatedly re-implementing the same common multimedia middleware on multiple platforms, developers are free to focus on differentiating their products, bringing their products to market sooner on a wider variety of platforms.

OpenMAX IL defines a low-level interface for audio, video, and imaging codecs used in embedded and/or mobile devices, freeing the developer from having to use proprietary or closed interfaces. It allows applications and media frameworks to interface with multimedia codecs and supporting components in a unified manner. The codecs themselves may be any combination of hardware or software and are completely transparent to the user. The principal goal of  OpenMAX IL is to give codecs and other media components a degree of system abstraction using a specialized arsenal of features, honed to combat the problem of portability among many vastly different media systems.

OpenMAX IL in the OpenMAX offer

OpenMAX IL is one of three layers of the OpenMAX solution. OpenMAX AL is an optional layer of higher level abstraction that can be implemented using one or several OpenMAX IL media components.

OpenMAX DL defines an API which contains a comprehensive set of audio, video, and imaging primitives that may be used to implement OpenMAX IL components.

OpenMAX Media Portability Library

Driving Collaboration

OpenMAX IL is a non-proprietary, royalty-free standard, primarily targeted at middleware developers producing multimedia codecs, games engines, and graphics libraries. OpenMAX IL is widely applicable to all frameworks where multimedia performance is a critical issue, including smartphones, games consoles, digital televisions, and set-top boxes. A growing number of stakeholders are collaborating and promoting OpenMAX IL, encouraging wide industry support and adoption.

The working group welcomes the input and experience of existing Khronos members, and encourages new members with multimedia knowledge to join to help bring the benefits of these specifications to the entire industry. This includes semiconductor manufacturers, independent software vendors, intellectual property vendors, operating system companies, and the OEM or product development companies that supply end users.


Implementers of OpenMAX IL

  • Sasken Communication Technologie
  • NEC Electronics Corporation
  • Mentor Graphics UK Ltd.
  • Leadcore Technology Co., LTD
  • LG Electronics
  • Google, Inc.
  • Dolby Laboratories
  • DTS, Inc.
  • Broadcom Corporation

View a complete list of companies and their conformant products.