CPU requirements for H264/x264 playback ? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-03-2007, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi !

It's possible to find some HD TV programs on the Net that are unavailable on any HD channel and unavailalble for purchase (I'm happy to do either).

I see that these downloads are MKV format, and the codec is x264, in 720p resolution, and no more than 6mps bitrate (ie no more than DVD).

I have tried using my laptop to play equivalent files that are in AVI format, and the codec was xvid, with no problem (using a VGA cable to the HD LCD TV). The laptop is 1.6ghz with 1.5gb RAM and an ATI 7500 Mobility graphics chip, and I used VLC player because it seems to have the lowest CPU requirements.

So, will the x264/mkv files play with that CPU - or do I first need to convert the files to xvid/avi to make it easier for the laptop ?

(I did do a search, but the previous threads were ambiguous on this point.)

Thanks !
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-03-2007, 11:59 AM
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Converting files from mkv to avi does nothing but change the container - think of this as an external shell that has little or no effect on the content. If you switch it to avi, the insides are just as difficult to play. You could recode them to a lower bitrate to make them easier to play, but that's a different matter altogether. The comparison to DVD bitrates doesn't really help you either, because they're a different format and thus have totally different CPU requirements.
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post #3 of 12 Old 05-03-2007, 12:22 PM
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Oddly enough the new TViX M-4100 streamer can play high bitrate H.264 but not in the MKV container because it takes more processing. I thought AVIs were inefficient, and I don't understand all of this, but I'm in the process of trying to figure out a good method of converting MKVs to AVIs (or MP4s) without losing quality - and I'm trying to find a software solution that'll work on the Mac :P
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-03-2007, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfly13 View Post

Oddly enough the new TViX M-4100 streamer can play high bitrate H.264 but not in the MKV container because it takes more processing. I thought AVIs were inefficient, and I don't understand all of this, but I'm in the process of trying to figure out a good method of converting MKVs to AVIs (or MP4s) without losing quality - and I'm trying to find a software solution that'll work on the Mac :P


MKV would only take more CPU than an AVI with the same video content if the demuxxer was badly programmed (not impossible, mkv is a newer format and somewhat poorly supported).

If you do want to convert, have a dig around videohelp.com. Basically what you need to do is to demux the mkv, which extracts the video and audio streams into separate files (without changing either at all). You then remux it back into an AVI, and you have a 100% perfect copy. However, if you want to make things easier to play, you should recode the video into xvid before the remux process (would probably have to be a higher bitrate to maintain decent quality)


ps VLC on the Mac can play mkvs
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-03-2007, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arfster View Post

Converting files from mkv to avi does nothing but change the container - think of this as an external shell that has little or no effect on the content. If you switch it to avi, the insides are just as difficult to play. You could recode them to a lower bitrate to make them easier to play, but that's a different matter altogether. The comparison to DVD bitrates doesn't really help you either, because they're a different format and thus have totally different CPU requirements.

I was just trying to give all the information.

The basic question is CPU requirements for playing x264 codec as compared to CPU requirements for plaing xvid codec.

( If you just say that, people say "well you didn't give us all the other details". But if you give all the details, people focus on the wrong aspect. )

PS To nightfly13 - there are simple free tools to convert MKV to AVI - these are listed at videohelp.com - but I doubt any of them will work on Mac. (You might consider getting a windows-emulation program for Mac that will run some of these free utilties that are only available for Windows.)
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-03-2007, 12:58 PM
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Thanks for the input guys. I play MKVs with VLC on my Mac now and even found a app to convert them, but it's ugly. Demux-remux seems to be the better way to go - wonder if I can figure out an automator script.

As for windows emulation, I have parallels or I can boot to windows with Boot Camp, but the former hardly gives top performance from the CPU and the latter is a hassle I only resort to in emergency... and for gaming Weird that the brand new chip in the 4100 finds MKVs harder to handle (might just be an excuse for their lack of support for the container).
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-03-2007, 02:33 PM
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google mkvtoolnix for muxing and demuxing tracks from .mkv containers

The fastest software decoder currently available for x264 and h264 is CoreAVC. FFdshow has slightly better quality IMO, but it takes more cpu. FFdshow is free, core is $10 or so the last time I checked. I know someone who uses and Athlon xp 2200 and can run 720p x264 in a mkv container using Core.

You might find this interesting as well:

http://anime.nickistre.net/blog_entr...dec_conversion

Hit me with a PM if you have any more trouble. I encode to x264 regularly and deal with these questions quite a bit.

P.S. The overhead for the mkv container is much LESS than avi. x264 is more complex than xvid and that is likely your problem.
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-05-2007, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
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A lot of very good and interesting information, but...

...the basic question is still unanswered - what are CPU requirements for playing x264 codec as compared to CPU requirements for plaing xvid codec ?

I have successfully played 720p Xvid avi's with a 1.3 ghz laptop (1.5gb RAM and ATI 7500 GPU) using VLC media player. I tried playing 720p x.264 Mkv's with the same laptop and it dropped a lot of frames and froze up a lot - only some sections were playable.

I can upgrade the CPU to 1.7ghz for somthing like ~$100 and a couple of hours of my time (I have taken apart laptops before of the same brand, but not this specific one). In theory, I can somewhat higher (maybe to 2.1ghz) for yet more money.

But, I don't want to go to that trouble and expense and stll have it be insufficient, so I was hoping someone had some previous experience with what works for H.264 and what doesn't.

If it is not going to work, then I'll just wait for someone like Oppo to include H.264 in their next standalone player (which is probably a preferable option to me).

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-05-2007, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A_Dude View Post

...the basic question is still unanswered - what are CPU requirements for playing x264 codec as compared to CPU requirements for plaing xvid codec ?

Unfortunately there isn't a simple answer to that. Generally it will be more, because h264 is a processor-heavy standard to decode. However, some h264 files can be encoded with minimal options to be easy to decode (ie they are compressed less).

If you're talking x264 720p TV ep downloads that are typically found on the net, on a e4300 using ffdshow (ie no hardware acceleration) you're talking about 30% CPU. That means any dualcore can play it easily, and pretty much any modern single core - at a guess, down to perhaps a 2ghz P4, or a 1.6ghz Athlon (google for some with those systems, that's just a guess).
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-05-2007, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A_Dude View Post

A lot of very good and interesting information, but...

...the basic question is still unanswered - what are CPU requirements for playing x264 codec as compared to CPU requirements for plaing xvid codec ?

I have successfully played 720p Xvid avi's with a 1.3 ghz laptop (1.5gb RAM and ATI 7500 GPU) using VLC media player. I tried playing 720p x.264 Mkv's with the same laptop and it dropped a lot of frames and froze up a lot - only some sections were playable.

I can upgrade the CPU to 1.7ghz for somthing like ~$100 and a couple of hours of my time (I have taken apart laptops before of the same brand, but not this specific one). In theory, I can somewhat higher (maybe to 2.1ghz) for yet more money.

But, I don't want to go to that trouble and expense and stll have it be insufficient, so I was hoping someone had some previous experience with what works for H.264 and what doesn't.

If it is not going to work, then I'll just wait for someone like Oppo to include H.264 in their next standalone player (which is probably a preferable option to me).

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

Impossible to answer this without knowing the bitrate of the h.264 flavor you want to play along with the resolution...For example my AMD X2 4800+ can play any AVC (1080i) upto around 15mbps, thereafter I'll drop frames. So if you can provide us with more information we can give you a better answer.
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post #11 of 12 Old 05-13-2007, 10:35 PM
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I know this is decoding, but wondering how long it takes to encode x264 on a 42 or 43 minute HD .ts file and what kind of CPU would be a good fit for encoding? I've looked at some of the 1.1 Gig 720p files and they look good, unfortunately I've only got an XP2000 and it's not quite strong enough to play them without some glitches.
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post #12 of 12 Old 11-27-2009, 11:16 PM
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720p h264 MKV file "CANAAN"

all using windows XP, windows media player with ffdshow decoder


CPU: 1.0GHz Athlon
GPU: Radeon VE 7000 (circa 2001)
***VERY SLOW framerate. UNWATCHABLE***

CPU: 2.6GHz P4 based Celeron (2.6GHz Northwood core)
GPU: intel integrated 845G
***kinda choppy, video way too slow for audio, and audio is choppy***

CPU: 2.8GHz P4 (Northwood core)
GPU: intel integrated 865G
***minor lag in places, some sections are in sync, ALMOST watchable***

CPU: 2.0GHz Athlon64 3200+ (single Venice core, socket 939, 2.0GHz)
GPU: integrated GeForce 6100
***plays fine, very watchable***
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