PureVideo HD and Video Playback

On the surface, PureVideo HD is not really that different from current GeForce 7 PureVideo. The only addition is the capability to playback video content with HDCP protection enabled. Previous versions of PureVideo are able to accelerate content encoded in the same formats as HD-DVD and Blu-Ray provide, but without the content protection factor. No hardware needs to change for PureVideo HD support, and it all comes down to a driver. The fact that PureVideo HD support won't be added for GeForce 6 series parts doesn't matter, as there aren't any GeForce 6 series cards with HDCP support.

Another major feature this time around is the fact that NVIDIA is rolling PureVideo support into ForceWare and enabling third-party players to tie directly into the GPU. This is a major boon for NVIDIA's PureVideo effort, as one of the constant negatives associated with PureVideo has been the $30 price tag. Getting CyberLink, InterVideo, and others on board with tight GPU integration will also save on the headache of getting PureVideo working properly.

When watching an HD movie using an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray device, the video needs to move from the player to the display in a very strict path. In order to view the content over a digital connection at full resolution, everything must be in place.

Currently, PureVideo HD is only able to handle the motion compensation and deblocking steps of decode. In the future, they hope to include CABAC and CAVLC support, which should have a pretty heavy impact on performance. (These are very compute intensive portions of VC-1 and H.264 decoding). This should also only require a driver update. Of course, as the initial introduction of PureVideo showed us, we must take such promises with a grain of salt. Here's what users who jump on the PureVideo HD bandwagon can expect right now.

This is, of course, in addition to the video quality features you get with PureVideo HD. These features are, as we said, mostly the same as in previous PureVideo implementations (the exception, of course, is the HDCP block). The de-interlacing and bad edit correction features are still around, as well as noise reduction. Even de-interlacing will still be necessary in cases where HD content is provided in 1080i rather than 1080p. Thankfully, most of the titles we tested so far have been 1080p, so this may not have as much of an impact on HD content as it did on DVD titles. As with TV tuners, the biggest benefits of good image processing technology are apparent in the lower quality sources. Analog TV benefits a great deal from new tuners, while digital tuners don't do much beyond receiving the signal and pulling off the data.

Now that we know what PureVideo HD is, lets take a look at what it can actually do.

Index The System, Tests and Performance


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  • Dismal - Tuesday, August 01, 2006 - link

    Potentially dumb question: Do all these graphics cards coming out now have support for all these 16:9 resolutions such as 1920x1080? Documentation for the cards that show what kind of resolutions they support seem scarce. I only worry because my 6800GT won’t touch 16:9 at all. I'm hoping times have changed. Reply
  • skycat - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    I'm a little bit confused here. Do we have to have a HDCP video card in order to play HD-DVD or BD?
    I have a 7800gtx video card, and Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP monitor which supports HDCP. So if I get a HD-DVD rom drive, will I able to play HD-DVD in full resolution via DVI?
  • Renoir - Friday, July 28, 2006 - link

    Based on Derek's answer to my similar question above the answer appears to be no. The graphics card needs to support hdcp although if I understand him correctly you will be able to hook up the monitor via vga and get full resolution. Hope that helps. Reply
  • Clauzii - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    In what GPU series did nVidia implement the hardware for PureVideo? - Since I think it took a LONG time from then till now, and still drivers are BETA????? I don't get it.... Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    Purevideo works fine and is not beta in current drivers.

    Purevideo HD, which enables playback of HDCP protected content stored on HD-DVD or Blu-ray disks, is currently in beta.

    Since HD-DVD drives and Blu-ray drives have only recently started hitting the market, it isn't suprising that this feature of Purevideo HD is still in development. But Purevideo itself has been production quality for quite some time now. I know it's been at least as long as the 7 series parts have been out, but I think it was available at some point before that. I'd have to go back and check to make sure though.

    Derek Wilson
  • Clauzii - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    Thanks :) Reply
  • phusg - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    I didn't see any mention of load on the dual core Pentium, specifically the 'second' core. Is this being used at all? Seems to me that utilizing the second core would be much more advantageous than the 20% decrease from utilizing the GPU. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    When we refer to 100% processor usage on a dual core system, we mean 100% of both cores.

    In other words, if one core went unused, we would see usage of about 50%.

    In every case, load was spread fairly evenly across both cores.

    Taking that a step further to put it all together -- smooth HD-DVD playback of H.264 content requires at least 2x 3.0GHz Netburst cores and Purevideo HD on a GPU running at 450MHz or more. Alternately, more powerful CPU(s) could make up for the need of a GPU, but until we collect more data, we don't know where the crossover point is.
  • Renoir - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    I'm about to build a friend a budget pc based on the geforce 6150/430 chipset which runs at 475mhz and I would find it funny if it turns out to offer faster h.264 acceleration than the 7800GTX which another friend has which runs at 430mhz. Was thinking though, although Nvidia say that the performance of the video processor is dependent on gpu clock speed is there any difference between the processor on the 6XXX series as opposed to the 7XXX series?

    Given that I don't game on my pc but am interested in the video performance of gpus I must say I prefer the approach Nvidia is taking more than ATI's because I don't like the idea of having to buy a high end gpu just to get good hardware acceleration of video. Having said that I'm interested to see what effect the move to unified shaders has on avivo's video acceleration because I believe ATI's video acceleration is dependent on the number of pixel pipelines.
  • Renoir - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    I guess the easiest thing would be to make sure you have a cpu that can decode the highest bit rate h.264 video on the market and consider hardware acceleration a bonus. I am therefore really looking forward to your future articles which should establish how fast a cpu you need in order to not be dependent on the gpu. Reply

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