ATi releases graphics card with both dual-GPU and h.264 hardware decoding

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
"Now that HDR and AA is feasible with the Radeon X1800, the added realism in images and environments further pulls users into the game, enabling much more immersive game play," said Ryan Elam, Technology Director, Sigil. "By fostering the kind of development platform that game developers can go to town with, ATI continues to show their focus and dedication to this market."



but the great part is Avivo - H.264 hardware decoding, as we have predicted, now the latest gaming cards, x1600 and x1800 explicitly mentions harware GPU acceleration of H.264. year of HD, indeed.



"Free your CPU to devote more processing power to other applications with Avivo?s hardware accelerated processing of new HD video formats, including H.264. Transform your movies and improve every image sent to your display with hardware post processing for superb stutter-free viewing. Avivo gives your video playback the smooth, fluid motion you want from your HD content."



some compelling stuff with the x1600 and x1800: crossfire, h.264 hardware decoding, and all the 3d goodness that, um... the 7800gtx has been pumping out. but this is not about ati vs nvidia, this is about h.264 hardware encoding in GPU which is an awesome step forward. i am quite sure ATi's Avivo platform has provisions for windows media hidef GPU decoding somewhere in there as well, hard to imagine if it does not.



remember that h.264 hardware decoding is not only limited to the x-NNNN gaming products, the chips for more generic home-theater / video capture cards etc are out there as well (HDTV wonder, TV wonder, etc).



now: when is apple going to use these GPUs, and where is the HDTV h.264 content?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    placeboplacebo Posts: 5,767member
    And it still gets thrashed or at least 1-up'd by the 7800.
  • Reply 2 of 26
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    clarification:

    "There are also new video formats supported with the X1000 series. There is full hardware acceleration of H.264/VC1. This means that if you are using Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, you will get hardware decode acceleration. There is also hardware acceleration for encode of WMV9 PMC, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and DivX. There is hardware accelerated decode of H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, and WMV9."



    placebo:

    heh. maybe it looks like they're trying to say, we've caught up now, and we're doing it right. so time will tell. the war is back on now, which means goodness for consumers. fight for our love, ati and nvidia! fight fight fight fight!
  • Reply 3 of 26
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    What do you mean when you say "nVidia has had HDR and AA for a while now"? Current ATi cards can do HL2 HDR+AA, as can nVidia cards. Neither company's cards can do FarCry HDR+AA.



    Cool video technology, this Avivo. I was kind of surpised to see it is supposed to accelerate capture and encoding too.
  • Reply 4 of 26
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Placebo

    And it still gets thrashed or at least 1-up'd by the 7800.



    Elaborate please.
  • Reply 5 of 26
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    Originally posted by Gon

    What do you mean when you say "nVidia has had HDR and AA for a while now"? Current ATi cards can do HL2 HDR+AA, as can nVidia cards. Neither company's cards can do FarCry HDR+AA....




    yes, it was a bit of a flippant statement on my part so i've edited my first post.



    anyway hardocp has a good article reviewing the new ati cards.

    http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=ODIy



    after some thorough benchmarkings (i love the fps graph, it shows you how it moves up and down through different scenes, great data), hardOCP i think comes to a very sensible conclusion:



    "Well, it appears that the Radeon X1800 XL is not the GeForce 7800 GT killer everyone was hoping it would be. It seems that the cards trade blows back and forth depending on the game. In some games, the X1800 XL is faster; in other games, the GeForce 7800 GT is faster. We were hoping for a larger performance difference but we just didn?t find it. The Radeon X1800 XL is a very competitive video card to the GeForce 7800 GT, but it in no way ?blows it out of the water? in current games.



    The Radeon X1600 XT does a little better though. We did see some blows being traded back and forth between the Radeon X1600 XT and the GeForce 6800, but, for the most part, the card shined in the newer games like Battlefield 2 and F.E.A.R. If this is an indication of its performance in future titles, it could be a good thing for ATI, as long as NVIDIA doesn?t counter with a GeForce 7 series product for the same price. Up against the GeForce 6 series, the Radeon X1600 XT performs very well."



    i feel nVidia will respond in nov/dec for christmas frenzy season with some good stuff (price cuts probably) to hold the grain against the new ATi onslaught.... and then we'll see 2006 open up with a new round of ati vs nvidia some very sensible final thoughts again from hardOCP:



    "There do seem to be a lot of ?ifs? and that is simply because there are no mass amount of games out there pushing the features like HDR and dynamic branching that these video cards support. These features are very forward-looking and HDR is just now truly being realized but is still very much in its infancy. Right now, all we can say is that the ATI X1000 series video cards compete well with their equally MSRP-priced competition. What is going to be best for the future though is yet to be seen. If we want to make an educated guess, we could say the X1000 series has more potential with its ability to do HDR with AA, and it possibly has much faster dynamic branching performance. It all comes down to the game content developers and what features they put into their games."
  • Reply 6 of 26
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    Originally posted by Gon

    Cool video technology, this Avivo. I was kind of surpised to see it is supposed to accelerate capture and encoding too.




    yes, originally this is what i was excited about and started this thread. but inevitably we will have to discuss the nvidia vs ati thing. but i am VERY HAPPY about GPU manufacturers doing h.264 hardware *decoding* at least because this offers some very tantalising opportunities for HDTV on your mac/pc. having to have a dual-g5 to do 1080p h.264 *decoding* is just, well, silly. and a cell coprocessor for that sort of stuff would be cool, but clearly GPU companies have the edge on this now over cell



    dual-core cpus and powerful GPUs hold a huge amount of promise for macintels in 2006-2007. let's see what happens.
  • Reply 7 of 26
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    check out the 6600GT on NeedForSpeedUnderground 2: quite a (pleasant or unpleasant depending on what card you have and how much you like the game) surprise:







    "The performance results with the Radeon X1600 XT are also very interesting in this game. We found that performance was just barely playable at 1280x1024 with no AA and 16XAF, however, without AA, the image quality wasn?t that great. We found it best to drop to 1024x768 with 4XAA and 16XAF, which provided smoother frame rates and better image quality. With this video card and this game, we found that enabling High Quality AF caused too much of a performance hit.



    With the BFGTech GeForce 6800 OC, you have a choice, 1280x1024 with no AA, which is very playable, or 1024x768 with 4XAA, which makes it very even with the Radeon X1600 XT. The GeForce 6600 GT had some surprising results in this game allowing 2X AA at 1280x1024 with faster frame rates than both video cards. We triple checked these results and they held true."



    my personal opinion: seeing that you can play NFS underground2 on MAX settings on 6-series and x300 etc without any problems, i think its a game that's kinda optimised for current generation cards, and doesn't scale as much as games such as FEAR, HL2, doom3, farCry, etc. need for speed has had a long tradition of perfecting their 3d driving graphics over 10 years though so they've got their driving game code pretty solid though, leveraging all that experience from a long and solid NeedForSpeed legacy, starting all the way back from very simple not-even-goraud(spelling?)-shaded polygons years ago. ah, the good ol days of need for speed....
  • Reply 8 of 26
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    I read the HardOCP article, and I understood that the next ATi generation will be able to do the full floating point effects and AA simultaneously, while the 7800's have to pick one or the other for architectural reasons.



    Well, seeing how the games just demand more and more power, it isn't like people are going to be able to use those fancy features unless they have a X1800. They are almost going to waste in the X1600 and X1300, though upping the bar is always nice.



    When are the hardware sites going to start testing in 1920x1200?
  • Reply 9 of 26
    Quote:

    When are the hardware sites going to start testing in 1920x1200?



    yeah, seriously.... my 6800ultra still croaks from fill rate at that res. too many damn pixels. dropping down to 1600x1000 helps and looks pretty much the same, fwiw. AA is a joke at those res's...worthless.
  • Reply 10 of 26
    ebbyebby Posts: 3,110member
    Is it just me, or does OS X NOT use specific video hardware acceleration. I know my ATI Radion9800 can handle MPEG2 "Top quality DVD and all-format DTV/ HDTV decode with low CPU overhead" but Quicktime chokes on a .TS stream on my Dual 2Ghz. I don't see hardware acceleration going on. I have to use EyeTV (a highly optimized software decoder) to run HDTV at the full frame rate. A GeForce 5200 has a HDTV MPEG2 chip that works wonders with as little as a 900Mhz processor.



    h.264 hardware acceleration is great... as long as OS X takes advantage of it!



    Someone please prove me wrong. \
  • Reply 11 of 26
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    mpeg2 at dvd resolutions is *definitely* hardware accelerated on macs. i think quicktime is not coded to handle mpeg2 acceleration at hdtv resolutions... maybe eyeTV is able to tap into the hardware acceleration of mpeg2 for those hdtv res?
  • Reply 12 of 26
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Quicktime's MPEG2 support has sucked for a while. I'd blame it before anything else. Hopefully that'll improve but we'll see.
  • Reply 13 of 26
    apple dvd player in os 10.4 is quite nice though, no complaints there even for an iBook 2-3 years old, right? the video scaling and color correction is quite sweet as well...
  • Reply 14 of 26
    anyway, big ups to AAPL for including *OMFG* radeon x600pro and x600xt with *OMFG* pci express
  • Reply 15 of 26
    ebbyebby Posts: 3,110member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by sunilraman

    maybe eyeTV is able to tap into the hardware acceleration of mpeg2 for those hdtv res?



    Quote:

    When I asked EyeTV why it did not take advantage of the hardware acceleration included in the graphics cards installed in modern Macs, they explained that Apple has not made those interfaces easily accessible to third party developers. Enabling hardware acceleration is thus not likely to be in the cards for EyeTV's software in the near future.



    Snagged that from /.



    Core video is good, but I don't think Elgato will give up on their highly optimized MPEG decoder.
  • Reply 16 of 26
    cool. so mpeg2 hardware acceleration is there but so far only apple's dvd player for example really makes use of it.



    i wonder what the situation will be like when ati's avivo cards (h.264 hardware decoding) make it into macs. i wonder how easy/hard it will be for developers outside of apple to tap into that.



    in any case, props to elgato for what i hear is great software.
  • Reply 17 of 26
    So what are the chances of either of these new PCI Express cards coming out in a an AGP version? Do we really need a new slot type every year?
  • Reply 18 of 26
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    heh. AGP has been around for donkeys' years mate. PCI-express 16x will be the new graphics standard for at least 2 years IMHO. apple has strongly resisted PCI-express for long enough, amd-intel land has had them for about a year.



    you'll be pleased to know that PCI-express 16x has got some time as well, in the sense that card and motherboard ad intel amd kids are all focused on SLI or crossfire dual-PCI-express slots at 16x each. eventually there'll be who knows, PCI-express 32x or whatever but we've definitely got a few years on this thing called PCI-express.



    ironically, if you look at cards in gaming benchmarks the pci-express versions outperform the agp versions by a much smaller margin than one would expect. that said, GPU companies are definitely standardising to PCI-express, AGP versions of their cards are (for some) PCI-express-to-AGP bridged to give you the AGP version. so AGP is definitely on it's way out. add AGP, the eMac, iPod Mini, iPod U2 to the history column.
  • Reply 19 of 26
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by sunilraman

    apple dvd player in os 10.4 is quite nice though, no complaints there even for an iBook 2-3 years old, right? the video scaling and color correction is quite sweet as well...



    The scaling is good with weird DVD's that have, say, 4:3 picture containing a widescreen picture and black stripes. One would expect subtitles not to be affected or have separate adjustment, though, so I think there is room for improvement there.



    I have had what looks like VRAM running out, horrible problems with the picture, green blinky things, when VLC would play the same disk fine immediately afterwards. The same disk has played with and without errors in DVD Player at different times, I think this supports the VRAM conclusion.



    It would be excellent to be able to skip the nags at the beginning of a movie, but I guess a commercial DVD player just can't without breaking the license.
  • Reply 20 of 26
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Gon

    The scaling is good with weird DVD's that have, say, 4:3 picture containing a widescreen picture and black stripes. One would expect subtitles not to be affected or have separate adjustment, though, so I think there is room for improvement there.



    I have had what looks like VRAM running out, horrible problems with the picture, green blinky things, when VLC would play the same disk fine immediately afterwards. The same disk has played with and without errors in DVD Player at different times, I think this supports the VRAM conclusion.



    It would be excellent to be able to skip the nags at the beginning of a movie, but I guess a commercial DVD player just can't without breaking the license.




    i've had those weird video problems with scaling and color correction in DVDplayer.app but only when i used atiaccelerator2 to overclock the mobility 9200. i find turning off overclocking of the gpu gives no problems with dvdplayer.app



    good point about subtitles though. subtitles in dvd is interesting because of the way they are made. AFAIK the subtitle track on a dvd is actually not ascii text but non-antialiased really pixelly glyphs.



    interesting in any case if apple could enlarge the image itself while intelligently dealing with the subtitle glyphs.



    i hope bluray (hddvd perhaps, if it lives) have thought about subtitles better. it should be unicode-etc text so that it gives the hidef renderer more options in rendering clear, readable subtitles that scales well according to display size and viewer preference.



    apple could show the way here if that were the case, by using coreimage for some intelligent realtime drop-shadowing and even subtitle placement adjustment depending on the color of the subtitle text and the film image (eg, if there is a lot of white on the bottom of the frame you want to use a heavier drop shadow on the white subtitles to still make it readable)... hmmmm intriguing
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