No Flash Acceleration

Adobe’s Flash 10.1 beta enables DXVA acceleration of H.264 encoded Flash movies, we wrote about it a few weeks ago. It’s cross platform, it works on AMD, Intel and NVIDIA hardware - all you need is a GPU core that supports H.264 hardware acceleration. Ah, now you see the problem.

Without hardware H.264 acceleration, Pine Trail can’t playback full screen Hulu/Youtube videos at higher desktop resolutions without dropping frames.

The table below shows you what you can/can’t do:

Windowed Average CPU Utilization Intel Pine Trail NVIDIA Ion
Hulu - 360p Perfect Perfect
Hulu - 480p Perfect Perfect
Hulu - 480p - Upscaled to 720p Window Ok Perfect
Hulu - 480p - Upscaled to 1920 x 1200 Window Not Watchable Perfect

 

In my opinion this is a serious issue with Pine Trail. You can argue that you don’t need to watch Blu-rays on the platform, but Flash video is everywhere online. It’s watchable full screen at 720p desktop resolutions or lower, but if you’ve got a higher res display you’re better off with Ion.

I can see Intel’s take on the situation - someone building a $75 platform isn’t likely to have a 1920 x 1200 display, but the problem is a bit more complex than that. Without H.264 decode acceleration, Flash videos take much more CPU time to decode - meaning that there’s less available CPU time to do anything you want to do in tandem.

If you’re not watching full screen flash videos on high res displays, then Pine Trail works, it’s just not the most elegant solution.

Meet the Board Performance Summary
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  • yuhong - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    "Granted the board only costs $75 new, but would it have killed Intel to include DVI or HDMI out?"
    That is a limitation of the on-die GPU, it only support VGA and LVDS for the display.
    Reply
  • lucaiuli - Saturday, January 02, 2010 - link

    Found this board at http://www.mini-box.com/D510MO-mini-ITX-Intel">http://www.mini-box.com/D510MO-mini-ITX-Intel, it will be available this week, price is not bad. I am considering buying one and with a Broadcom Crystal HD miniPCI Express card and proper miniITX enclosure it would be a nice fanless and siled HD HTPC for my living room. Reply
  • geok1ng - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - link

    "It’s not a problem in areas where AMD is competitive, but what about areas in which they’re not?"

    AMD chose not to be competitive on the Netbook and lower power notebook market. There was a time when ATIs IGPs were very good, and today an overclocked 3200 can dish out enough fps to compete with NVIDIAs offerings. AMD had a lower power CPU months before the CLUVs, but it never become an integrated platform like Ion, even on the micro HTPC market.

    If a company has a super IGP, and there was a time when AMD had one, and the market has a new wave of low power low costs Netbooks, and this company decides not to join the wave, well, dont blame Intel when things go the way of the Dodo.

    I am only seeing Intel paying AMD so that Intel remains dominating the market, even on produtcs were Intel's offerings are so crappy as the IGP market.
    Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - link

    AMD still offers the AMD Neo X2 with AMD 785G or HD4200 graphics or with embedded AMD 780E + SB710 chipset. But that's not a netbook offering but a consumer or ultra-portable low-power notebook offer. I don't really like it that it's K8 based but it's still not totally bad. I don't think AMD is interested in the MID/smartphone market Intel is going after slowly any way.

    There's reason the AMD Neo platform didn't become a HTPC platform, first it was only released with 690E, secondly it wasn't supported in XBMC on linux. Then there's cost. Now CULV makes a lot more sense. GMA4500 is good enough. And it's first now supports really is coming through with Flash acceleration etc. It was a very limited usability with such a platform before. So soon Atom (with Broadcom accelerator), CULV etc really becomes useful and functional in the consumer space. AMD don't have any advantages even if they have support for the same things. I think it's wise that they are designing wholly new mobile products. Then there's gonna be a fair fight. Products will have a lower power envelope and be cheaper and on newer node. More will be released into the market.
    Reply
  • killerclick - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    This could be a chance for VIA Nano to get in on the netbook market. I fear however that most people buying netbooks won't know or care about the difference between the platforms. If it's cheap and can at least play 720p they won't go out of their way to get something non-Intel. Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - link

    I won't consider the Nano until they have shrunk it, made it less power hungry, made it dual core and released a good graphics chip with truly open source drivers. I'd rather have Pineview + Broadcom BCM70015 if not.

    It's impressive what Centaur can do with ~100 employees, but I'm not impressed with the S3 Graphics or VIA chipset team.
    Reply
  • killerclick - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - link

    I meant Nano + ATI/NVIDIA IGP Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - link

    Yeah I know you wrote that. But..

    That will never happen. It's Nano + Mobile ATI/NVIDIA GPU tops. But I don't see the point. Via's own gpus are fine for DXVA in Windows etc. Nano aren't that power efficient to begin with. It's not like such platforms will be fast enough to game on either way.

    This is what they have coming out (chipset with IGP) http://via.com.tw/en/products/chipsets/v-series/vn...">http://via.com.tw/en/products/chipsets/v-series/vn... It's not that bad. It has modern integrated graphics but it can be used with a discrete graphics solution too.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    If I remember correctly, you used a standard ATX power supply for testing the LF/LF2 Atom boards, which you speculated was part of the reason for such high power consumption. Did you restest with the same PSU as from the Pine Trail system? Reply
  • Griswold - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    Almost no performance gains - the opposite is actually true with the demise of useful chipset graphics for the atom platform.

    Buh bye, atom! Hello VIA Nano + ION!
    Reply

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