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The xbox 360 and H.264+MKV

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With the ‘new’ Microsoft Media Foundation build into Windows 7, the Xbox now has support for playing media files, wrapped into any container as long as having the needed codecs, written especially for use with this new framework. The newer versions of the Haali Media splitter,adds MKV support for Windows 7, using this particular framework. This enables both Media Center and any Media Center Extender which supports the use of MMF, to play video and audio contained in the Matroska container. One of the leading manufacturers of H.264 codecs, DivX, has released a pre-release version with support for MMF1, enabling owners of the Xbox 360 to play MKV wrapper H.264 files on their xbox with it configured as a Media Center extender.

Limited bandwidth

Unfortunately decompressed high level H.264 requires a lot of bandwidth, which removes support for any stream requiring more than the 100mbit, the Xbox 360 has as Ethernet interface (10/100).

Which levels to use?

This depends on what it is you need to stream. If the MKV contains a 1080p video stream along with a 5.1 surround audio stream you need to find the correct balance between video and audio quality. If the video stream is 1080p like a Blu-ray, the source is probably around 23.976 FPS2and an encoding level of 4.0 should be sufficient. Depending on the encoding properties, this leaves the video stream to use between 20 and 80mbit, leaving a minimum of 20mbit for audio + overhead. For 720p, the encoding level can be set as low as 3.1, resulting in a video stream between 14mbit and 42mbit, leaving plenty of bandwidth for the audio and any overhead.


  1. Microsoft Media Foundation
  2. Frames per Second download


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