Anandtech on H.264 Blu-ray playback on the PC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-12-2006, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2886

A nice article on what it will take to play back Blu-ray movies on our HTPCs. The article offers a good selection of video cards paired with the latest Core2s from Intel. H.264 is far more demanding than mpeg2. Generally speaking, new processors and video cards will be needed if your system is more than a few years old.
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post #2 of 8 Old 12-12-2006, 10:16 AM
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I was waiting for someone to post this.

Personally, I think they did something wrong at Anandtech. This PC Perspective Review clearly shows that an E6300 with a 7600GT is more than capable of playing very demanding H.264 content, and shows very dramatic improvements in CPU usage with the hardware acceleration turned on. Far more significant than the Anandtech article shows. In addition, This PDF from nVidia also shows a similar story from their recommendations for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray H.264 playback.

Something is fishy.
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post #3 of 8 Old 12-12-2006, 01:10 PM
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I am running playback on a P4 3.2Ghz HT system and a Radeon X1950Pro. Playback has been fine for me on all titles except for one…Glory Road, which was constant choppiness. I thought that perhaps as a Disney title there was some additional encryption or other issue that was the cause, but then I saw in the anandtech article that it was an h.264 title. This well could be it, with the one caveat that I have also watched Xmen-3 which is also on the h.264 list and I did not notice any playback issues. Overall I am quite content with my HD-A1 player for HD-DVD and HTPC for BD playback.
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post #4 of 8 Old 12-13-2006, 07:45 PM
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PC Perspective - NVIDIA PureVideo HD Technology - Is the PC Ready of HD Video?
  • System: Core 2 Duo E6400, 2.13GHz, MSI GeForce 7600 GT
  • Movie: True Blue (HD DVD, H.264)
  • Bitrates: In the high 18-19 Mbps up to 22 Mbps in some cases
  • Avg CPU: 55.04%
  • Max CPU: 62.50%

The result supports NVIDIA Checklist for Building a PC that Plays HD DVD or Blu-ray Movies.

AnandTech - HD Video Playback: H.264 Blu-ray on the PC

First Test
  • System: Core 2 Extreme X6800, 2.93GHz, GeForce 7600 GT
  • Movie: X-Men III (Blu-ray DVD, H.264), Chapter 18
  • Bitrates: Rated 18 Mbps, over 41 Mbps at one point
  • Avg CPU: 45.7% (45.7% x 11/8 = 62.8%)
  • Max CPU: 70.3% (70.3% x 11/8 = 96.7%)

CPU % in the parentheses is the one that would be with E6400 (multiplier of X6800 is x11, E6400 is x8). Maximum bitrate in the AnandTech test is nearly twice that in PC Perspective. So the result seems to be reasonable.

However there is a contradiction in the AnandTech aricle.

First Test
  • System: Core 2 Extreme X6800, 2.93GHz, GeForce 8800 GTX
  • Movie: X-Men III
  • Max CPU: 70.3%

Second Test
  • System: Core 2 Extreme X6800, 2.93GHz, GeForce 8800 GTX
  • Movie: X-Men III
  • Max CPU: 59.4%

Apparently they used different scenes for the second test.

They concluded:

Quote:
As for recommendations, based on our testing, we would not suggest anything less than an Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 for use in a system designed to play HD content ... But keep in mind that X-Men: The Last Stand is only one of the first H.264 movies to come out. We may see content that is more difficult to decode in the future, and faster processors are definitely a good place to pad your performance to ensure a quality HD experience on the PC.
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-13-2006, 08:14 PM
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I'm still not understanding how a higher bitrate automatically means the CPU usage goes way up. Who decided there is a direct connection between the two? With the mpeg codecs I'm familiar with resolution drives CPU usage far more than bitrate.

If the Anandtech article is correct, it also doesn't explain how scoombs was able to play it with a 3.2gHz P4 HT and a x1950 Pro. It also doesn't explain how the 7600GT lowered CPU usage in one case by 50%, but only by 20% in the other.
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-13-2006, 08:19 PM
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H264 cpu usage very much depends on the bitrate. MPEG2 is so much easier on the hardware to start with, and thus doesn't cause anywhere near as much variation in demands. On top of that, H264 encodes are typically made with large variations in bitrate, whereas the typical MPEG2 download people are comparing with is either CBR, or very little variation.
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post #7 of 8 Old 12-13-2006, 08:27 PM
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Are these cpu utilization numbers based on one core, or both?
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-13-2006, 08:37 PM
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The CPU utilization is the average of the two cores (I guess). Even NVIDIA does not recommend a single-core processor.
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