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AVIVO PureVideo HD DXVA GPU Acceleration Guide E-mail
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Written by Servando So Yong Silva Sohn - Edited by Olin Coles   
Friday, 27 November 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
AVIVO PureVideo HD DXVA GPU Acceleration Guide
Meet the AVIVO and PureVideo
Setting up your Software
Setup MPC HC
GPU setup
Testbeds and Methodology
Power DVD 9: CPU usage
Power DVD 9: ION based HTPC
Power DVD: Image Quality
Enhancing Video with GPU shaders
MPC HC Image Quality
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

GPU Acceleration Final Thoughts

There you have it. This is a very simple way to use your GPU for video playback and enhancement. Now that you know both Power DVD and MPC HC settings you can start playing around with other settings and environments. Before we move to the conclusions I´d like to add some extra info, some of which is so new that it actually changed when I was writing this article.

First of all, it´s very odd to think that a little group of programmers could manage to enable DXVA on almost any video format and give you the opportunity to use shaders to enhance your video even when talking about HD content for free. How is it that NVIDIA and ATI only gives support to H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2? I can think the industry being behind this, so that they only support original content, but still, there are lots of videos people download every day (or night) from the internet, and matroska, DIVX and others are much popular formats there. Actually, it would be difficult to find some H.264 content on the internet other than official sites or movie trailers. What I mean here, is that NVIDIA and ATI are losing some big opportunities here, and they have not done anything to change this. Actually, they don´t even give the right info to the end-user and so that´s why DXVA has been acting like a ghost in the last years.

The original PureVideo engine was introduced with the GeForce 6 series. Based on the GeForce FX's video-engine (VPE), PureVideo re-used the MPEG-1/MPEG-2 decoding pipeline, and improved the quality of de-interlacing and overlay-resizing. Compatibility with DirectX 9's VMR9 renderer was also improved. Other VPE features, such as the MPEG-1/MPEG-2 decoding pipeline were left unchanged. NVIDIA's press material cited hardware acceleration for VC-1 and H.264 video, but these features were not present at launch.

Starting with the release of the GeForce 6600, PureVideo added hardware acceleration for VC-1 and H.264 video, though the level of acceleration was limited when benchmarked side by side with MPEG-2 video. VPE (and PureVideo) offloaded the entire MPEG-2 pipeline (except the initial run length decoding, variable length decoding, and inverse transform), whereas first-generation PureVideo offered limited VC-1 assistance (motion-compensation).

The latest implementation of PureVideo HD, VP4 added hardware to offload MPEG-4 (Advanced) Simple Profile bit stream decoding with the GT216 & GT218 GPUs (sold as GeForce GT 220 & GeForce 210/G210) & GT215 GPU (sold as the GeForce GT 240) in addition to formats supported in previous VP3 implementation, as well as an additional high quality scaler. The functionality of the H.264-decoding pipeline was left mostly unchanged but no longer has the limitations of the VP3 implementation.

I strongly recommend if you want a HTPC, then use Vista or Windows 7 OS. Windows Media Player 11 started supporting DXVA on WMV HD and with Windows 7, WMP 12 supports a wider range of formats, some of which are GPU accelerated, so don´t get surprised if your video opens and plays flawless on it.

Update: The tendency on the market is the GPU being used more and more on everyday applications. NVIDIA is doing their homework with CUDA and ATI is doing their proper work with ATI-Stream. Some months ago, Adobe announced its Flash player would be able to support DXVA and guess what? Flash is already available in BETA stage. Yes, that means you can play every flash video with your GPU, and that´s not as simple as it sounds. This means every video you watch on Hulu, or in the mighty YouTube will be GPU accelerated. This makes the net tops or any low profile platform with iGPU a more powerful platform for internet surfing since you will be able to reproduce YouTube HD without problems.

Remember I told you about trying GPU settings on the fly with DVDs? YouTube is a better and easier choice. Just open any video on YouTube and your ATI/NVIDIA Control panel. Move the settings and set image quality as you prefer. I promise it´s easier than HD content. You can download the Adobe Flash Player 10.1 prerelease here.


DXVA Conclusion

Let's finish with the a conclusion on DXVA technology, whether it´s officially supported or not by NVIDIA (with PureVideo) or ATI (UVD) works really well. Performance is good and the CPU usage decreases a lot. For the GPU it´s easy to playback, decode and process the videos in real time so why don´t we take advantage of it?

In order to officially use PureVideo or UVD you need software supported by those enterprises, and guess what? Power DVD is the best out there, but still lacks on different formats playback ability. Luckily MPC HC and some other players around, which are 100% free, can support DXVA on a large list of different containers, which actually makes me think why NVIDIA and ATI have not worked on this? MPC HC won´t be accepted by some users since the interface makes it appear old, and it just doesn´t fit on Vista or Windows 7 GUI.

Remember to check if your model supports DXVA on these applications in order to enjoy the best HD experience, and if you´re using a HTPC with a low based GPU, then I recommend you to play with shaders and if necessary, disable Edge-Enhancement. Other than that, it´s really up to you to make tests and reach the best adjustments for your setup.

I recommend having different profiles and adjustments, since some settings will be more noticeable on some videos and some others just won´t. Now, have a great time testing HD movies/videos and feel free to give us your comments.

You can buy Cyberlink´s Power DVD 7.3 Blue-ray Disc edition at Newegg for $19.99, which is a very good deal. The newer versions of CyberLink PowerDVD 9 Standard sell for $44.99 while PowerDVD 9.0 Deluxe costs $61.24.

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