NVIDIA GeForce 8600: Full H.264 Decode Accelerationby Anand Lal Shimpi on April 27, 2007 4:34 PM EST
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We chose to test with four NVIDIA GPUs and two ATI GPUs. From NVIDIA we used the GeForce 8800 GTX, 8600 GTS, 8600 GT and the 7950 GT. The 8800 GTX and 7950 GT have the same VP as the rest of the GeForce 7 line, so they should offer fairly similar performance to everything else in NVIDIA's lineup that runs above 400MHz (remember that NVIDIA's VP stops working at core clocks below 400MHz). We included both 8600 cards to confirm NVIDIA's claim that the two 8600s would perform identically when it comes to H.264 decoding.
ATI uses its shader units to handle video decode, so there's more performance variance between GPUs. ATI only guarantees 720p or above decode acceleration on X1600 or faster GPUs and thus we included two parts in this review: a Radeon X1600 XT and a Radeon X1950 XTX; in theory the latter should be a bit better at its decode acceleration.
For our host CPU we chose the recently released Intel Core 2 Duo E6320, running at 1.86GHz with a 4MB L2 cache. As always, we reported both average and maximum CPU utilization figures. There will be some variability between numbers since we're dealing with manual measurements of CPU utilization, but you should be able to get an idea of basic trends.
We chose three HD-DVD titles for our performance test: Yozakura (H.264), The Interpreter (H.264) and Serenity (VC1). Yozakura is a Japanese HD-DVD that continues to be the most stressful test we've encountered; even on some of the fastest Core 2 systems it will still peak at 100% CPU utilization. Keep in mind that the NVIDIA GPUs don't handle CAVLC/CABAC for VC1 decode as VP2 is hardwired for H.264 decode, thus our VC1 test shouldn't show any tremendous improvement thanks to the new GPUs.
We used the Microsoft Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive for all of our tests.
|System Test Configuration|
|CPU:||Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 (1.86GHz/4MB)|
|Motherboard:||ASUS P5B Deluxe|
|Chipset Drivers:||Intel 188.8.131.520|
|Hard Disk:||Seagate 7200.7 160GB SATA|
|Memory:||Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800 4-4-4-12 (1GB x 4)|
|Video Card:||NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS
NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT
NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GT
ATI Radeon X1950 XTX
ATI Radeon X1600 XT
|Video Drivers:||ATI Catalyst 7.4
NVIDIA ForceWare 158.16
|Desktop Resolution:||1920 x 1080 - 32-bit @ 60Hz|
|OS:||Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit|