A family of audio and video formats and codecs first released in 1992 and designed for real-time video playback on desktop CPUs.
Intel Indeo Logo

Indeo Video (commonly known now simply as "Indeo") is a family of audio and video formats and codecs first released in 1992 and designed for real-time video playback on desktop CPUs. While its original version was related to Intel's DVI video stream format, a hardware-only codec for the compression of television-quality video onto compact discs, Indeo was distinguished by being one of the first codecs allowing full-speed video playback without using hardware acceleration. Also unlike Cinepak and TrueMotion S, the compression used the same Y'CbCr 4:2:0 colorspace as the ITU's H.261 and ISO's MPEG-1. Indeo use was free of charge to allow for broadest usage.

During the development of what became the P5 Pentium microprocessor, the Intel Architecture Labs implemented one of the first, and at the time highest-quality, software-only video codecs, which was marketed as "Indeo Video". It has been developed since the 1980s based on the hardware-only Digital Video Interactive (DVI) which was previously developed by General Electric. Indeo was first released in 1992 along with Microsoft's Video for Windows platform. At its public introduction, it was the only video codec supported in both Microsoft (Video for Windows) and Apple Computer's QuickTime software environments, as well as by IBM's software systems of the day. It was sold to Ligos Corporation in 2000.

Intel produced several different versions of the codec between 1993 and 2000, based on very different underlying mathematics and having different features.

Though Indeo saw significant usage in the mid-1990s, it remained proprietary. Intel slowed development and stopped active marketing, and it was quickly surpassed in popularity by the rise of MPEG codecs and others, as processors became more powerful, and its optimization for Intel's chips less important. Indeo still saw some use in video game cutscene videos, such as in 1998's Police Quest: SWAT 2.


The original format was designed for real-time playback on low-end Intel CPUs (i386 and i486), optionally supported by specialized decoder hardware (Intel i750). Decoding complexity was significantly lower than with contemporary MPEG codecs (H.261, MPEG-1 Part 2).

The codec was highly asymmetrical, meaning that it took much more computation to encode a video stream than to decode it. Intel's ProShare video conferencing system took advantage of this, using hardware acceleration to encode the stream (and thus requiring an add-in card), but allowing the stream to be displayed on any personal computer.

Indeo 2

previously known as Real-Time Video 2, works by delta coding pixels line by line, either against the temporally or spatially directly preceding line, coupled with static Huffman coding.

Indeo Video 3

is a traditional DCT-based transform coding format designed for video playback from CD-ROM that is very similar to the competing Cinepak. It uses chroma subsampling, delta encoding, vector quantization, run-length encoding and motion compensation (inter-frame coding) with a recommended key-frame interval of 4 and has distinctly asymmetric runtime characteristics.

Indeo Video Interactive

had greater computational complexity and was aimed at video game developers. It was based on wavelet transforms and included novel features such as chroma-keyed transparency and hot spot support. Initially, there was no support for Apple systems. Two variants of this technology were produced: Indeo Video 4 and 5. The format was never officially documented but later reverse engineered to allow for third-party decoders.

Indeo Audio Coder

is a transform coding format based on the modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT).

Key Terms

hardware acceleration
indeo video

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Sources & Credits

Last modified on April 29 2020
Content adapted from Wikipedia is service provided by Codecide, a company located in Chicago, IL USA.
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