Video Post Processing and HTPC Configuration Options

Our HTPC reviews over the last few years have used the HQV 2.0 benchmark to estimate and compare video post processing quality of the GPUs. We are at a stage where almost all GPUs end up scoring around 200, leaving very little differentiation. Put bluntly, the HQV 2.0 benchmark is dated, and presenting scores from it delivers no practical value to readers. That said, the tests themselves are relevant, but, instead of the HQV 2.0 Blu-ray, we used clips from Spears & Munsil's HD Benchmark (2nd Edition).

Intel has been paying particular attention to video post processing (courtesy of the pressure put by AMD's high scores in the HQV benchmark during the Sandy Bridge era). Haswell manages to clear common deinterlacing, chroma upsampling and cadence detection tests without issues, as shown in the gallery below

The disappointment comes in the form of the revamped Intel Graphics Control Panel. While the changes in appearance can be excused as migrating to be friendly with the Windows 8 touchscreen devices, the distribution of the various configuration options makes no sense at all. For example, it is only fair for users to expect the 'inverse telecine' option to be present under the Video category. However, it makes its appearance under the advanced display settings. Input range (Full / Limited for 0 - 255 / 16 - 235) is under advanced video settings, but the YCbCr / RGB setting is under the Display settings. It would make sense to have both settings under one category as users usually modify both when trying to calibrate and ensure that their setup is working optimally.

As I found out when trying to calibrate using Spears & Munsil's HD Benchmark, the mixture of settings in the control panel makes it very difficult to calibrate the correct output color space (amongst other things). For example, there is no way to choose YCbCr 4:2:2 / YCbCr 4:4:4 / Limited RGB / Full RGB. This is just one of the missing features in the configuration utility. I hope Intel's engineers try to calibrate a few displays by driving them using an Intel GPU and using the HD Benchmark 2nd Edition calibration disk (just to understand how badly the layout of the control panel is designed).

Andrew at Missing Remote also brings out the fact that clipping issues still exist. In addition, the current control panel completely removes the ability to create custom resolutions (in any case, the previous feature was also not very user friendly compared to NVIDIA's solution). The drivers and UI / UX still need work, but Intel hasn't been as responsive as we would like (partly due to the fact that casual HTPC users don't really care about these issues).

Note of Thanks:

Thanks to Spears & Munsil / Oppo Digital for providing us with an evaluation version of the HD Benchmark 2nd Edition Blu-ray

Testbed and Software Setup Refresh Rate Handling - 23.976 Hz Works!
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  • HisDivineOrder - Tuesday, June 04, 2013 - link

    I've heard this song and dance before. It never happens. Plus, limiting people to GDDR5 of pre-determined amounts for a HTPC seems like an exercise in being stupid. Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, June 04, 2013 - link

    Yeah, I'm not buying that rumour. Doesn't make much sense. Reply
  • JDG1980 - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    It's good to see that Intel finally got around to fixing the 23.976 fps bug, which was the biggest show-stopper for using their integrated graphics in a HTPC.

    Regarding MadVR, I'd be interested to see more benchmarks. How good can you run the settings before hitting a wall with GPU utilization? How about on the GT3e - if this ever shows up in an all-in-one Mini-ITX board or NUC, it might be a great choice for HTPCs. Can it handle the good scaling algorithms?

    My own experience is that anti-ringing doesn't add that much GPU load. I recently upgraded to a Radeon HD 7750, and it can handle anti-ringing filters on both luma and chroma with no problem. Chroma upscaling works fine with 3-tap Jinc, and luma also can do this with SD content (even interlaced), but for the most demanding test clip I have (1440x1080 interlaced 60 fields per second) I have to downgrade luma scaling to either Lanczos 3-tap or SoftCubic 80 to avoid dropping frames. (The output destination is a 1080p TV.) I suspect a 7790 or 7850 could handle 3-tap Jinc for both chroma and luma at all resolutions and frame rates up to full HD.

    By the way, I found a weird problem with madVR - when I ran GPU-Z in the background to monitor load, all interlaced content dropped frames. Didn't matter what settings I used. Closing GPU-Z ended the problem. I was still able to monitor GPU load with Microsoft's "Process Explorer" application and this did not cause any problems.

    Regarding 4K output, did you test whether DisplayPort 60 Hz 4K works properly? This might be of interest to some users, especially if the upcoming Asus 4K monitor is released at a reasonable price point. I know people have had to use some odd tricks to get the Sharp 4K monitor to do native resolution at 60 Hz with existing cards.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    This is very interesting.. What version of GPU-Z were you using? I will check whether my Jinc / anti-ringing dropped frames were due to GPU-Z running in the background. I did do the initial setup when GPU-Z wasn't active, but obviously the benchmark runs were run with GPU-Z active in the background. Did you see any difference in GPU load between GPU-Z and Process Explorer when playing interlaced content with dropped frames? Reply
  • JDG1980 - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    I was using the latest version (0.7.1) of GPU-Z. The strange part is that the GPU load calculation was correct - it was just dropping frames for no reason, it wasn't showing the GPU as being maxed out. For the video card, I was using the newest stable Catalyst driver (13.4, I believe) from AMD's website. The OS is Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit).

    The only reason I suspected GPU-Z is because after searching a bunch of forums to try to find out why interlaced content (even SD with low madVR settings) wouldn't play properly, I found one other user who said he had to turn off GPU-Z. I cannot say if this is a widespread issue and it's possible it may be limited to certain system configurations or certain GPUs. Still worth trying, though. Thanks for the follow-up!
    Reply
  • tential - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    I don't understand the H.264 Transcoding Performance chart at all can someone help?

    QuickSync does more FPS at 720p than 1080p. This makes sense.

    The x264 on the Core i3 and core i7 post higher FPS in 1080p but lower in 720p. Why is this?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Maybe the downscaling of the frame from 1080p to 720p sucks up more resources, causing the drop in FPS? Remember that the source is 1080p... Reply
  • tential - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Ok so if I'm downscaling to 720p, why does FPS increase with quicksync, but decrease with the processor?

    It's OPPOSITE directions one increases (quicksync) one decreases (cpu). Wouldn't it be the same both ways?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Downscaling is also hardware accelerated in QS mode. Hardware transcode is faster for 720p decoded frames rather than 1080p decoded frames. The time taken to downscale is much lower than the time taken to transcode the 'extra pixels' in a 1080p version. Reply
  • elian123 - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Ganesh, you mention "The Iris Pro 5200 GPUs are reserved for BGA configurations and unavailable to system builders". Does that imply that there won't be motherboards for sale with the 4770R integrated? Will the 4770R only be available in complete systems? Reply

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