Late last month. ATI announced their Avivo platform, which would become ATI's new baseline for overall picture and video quality on the PC.  The problem with ATI's launch last month was that, without any R5xx GPUs, the Avivo platform was literally nothing more than ATI's Theater 550 TV tuner, which is pretty much old news by this point.  Luckily, today we have ATI's Radeon X1800, X1600 and X1300 GPUs, all of which are Avivo compliant GPUs, so we can begin actually testing the features of Avivo.  Well, not exactly.

Despite what ATI told us at our Avivo briefing last month (although ATI insists that it was a miscommunication), H.264 decode acceleration is not launching alongside the R5xx GPUs.  ATI is committed to bringing both H.264 decode acceleration and transcode assist by the end of the year, but for now, we have no way of testing those features. Update: Just to clarify, the R5xx GPUs do feature hardware support for H.264 acceleration. We have seen the decode acceleration in action on an X1800 twice, once at Computex and once at ATI's Avivo briefing in NYC. What ATI does not yet have ready is driver and application support for the acceleration, which we are hearing will be ready sometime in November, or at least by the end of the year.

The capture and encoding aspects of Avivo, we've already looked at with the Theater 550, which leaves Avivo's 10-bit display pipeline, Xileon TV encoder, dual-link DVI, and ATI's enhanced de-interlacing/video scaling.  And we're holding off on testing the Xileon TV encoder until we get a component dongle for the cards.

Two of the aforementioned features are very easy to talk about, especially now that we have ATI's solutions in house.  For starters, the 10-bit display pipeline is truly difficult to quantify, much less demonstrate as a noticeable advantage in normal usage that the R5xx GPUs offer over their predecessors.  While there is undoubtedly some advantage, during our short time with the cards focusing on Avivo testing, we weren't able to discern that advantage. 

The next feature that's easy to talk about is the R5xx's integrated dual-link TMDS transmitter(s).  As we mentioned in our original Avivo preview, this means that any R5xx GPU should be able to support current and upcoming high-resolution LCD monitors, such as Apple's 30" Cinema Display.  It is up to the board manufacturer to decide how many dual-link DVI ports are placed on a specific board, but the GPU should support a minimum of one dual-link DVI port. 

The Radeon X1800 series will support up to two dual-link DVI ports, while the X1600 and X1300 will support up to one dual-link and one single-link port. 

We, of course, tested the new GPUs' dual link DVI with Apple's 30" Cinema Display, and here, we ran into our first problem.  The RV515 (Radeon X1300) board that we were sent by ATI only had a single-link DVI output and one analog VGA output on it for some reason.  A quick email to ATI revealed that the board that we had was just a reference board, and the shipping version of the card would be equipped with a dual-link DVI port.

So, we switched to the Radeon X1600 card that ATI sent us (RV530), and that worked perfectly.  The card had no problems running at the 30" display's native 2560 x 1600 resolution.

With those features out of the way, it was time to test the most intricate feature of Avivo that we had available to us: ATI's updated de-interlacing and scaling algorithms.

Before proceeding, be sure that you've read our primer on why de-interlacing is necessary and what contributes to good image quality while de-interlacing.

A New Video Quality Benchmark: HQV
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  • intellon - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    One thing about the guitar strings... Are you sure that they are artifacts and not the texture of the guitar strings? I do agree with one thing, they kinda look extreme... Reply
  • TheSnowman - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    It is an acoustic base guitar and those do tend to use some pretty massive copper wound strings, but yeah I don't see anything that looks like interlacing artifacts in those shots.

    Regardless, thanks for the update Anand and I'll check back to see how things turn out. The next card I buy will most likely be for my media center so de-interlacing quality is on my priority list.

    Reply
  • TheSnowman - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    I don't follow, the text at the bottom which the test askes to be compared defiantly doesn't show any interlacing artifacts in the posted pics while compression artifacts are mostly in the top right of the image and on the hands. The text does look a bit sharper on Nvidia, but best I can tell that is just from appling a sharpening fliter as that seems to be pretty obviously the case in the last shot with the fingers on piano keys and the slight shifts in geometry than can be seen there.

    Also, since the compression artifacts only appear in the first ATI shot, I can't help but wonder if that came about from downsampling as the jpg to under 40mb which nearly a quarter of what a full quality jpg of that resolution would be. Regardless, I am curious to see any further explnation of de-interlacing issues with the new r5xx chips as I would hate to try and upgrade my media center card only to wind up with worse de-interlacing than on my current r420 based card.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    The text itself is fine, it is the background image where the interlacing artifacts are seen. I'll see if I can get a better screen grab tonight.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    Apparently ATI isn't seeing what I'm seeing, so the issues may have been a driver problem, I will update you guys as soon as I have a driver/fix for the situation.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • vailr - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    Newer driver version?
    Ati Catalyst 8.18 beta:
    http://www.station-drivers.com/forum/viewtopic.php...">http://www.station-drivers.com/forum/viewtopic.php...
    Reply
  • Live - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    quote:

    For now, be sure to read our technology and gaming performance coverage on ATI's Radeon X1000 line.


    I would if I could. Quit teasing us and give as the real deal, lol.
    Reply
  • cirrhosis - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    INQ has benchies already. Not a surprise. Cards are matched. Reply
  • Hacp - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    GRAKK! Reply
  • cirrhosis - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    Interesting. Here's hoping that ATI improves on what they've started. Looking forward to the comoing months and what they bring. Reply

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