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post #1 of 67 Old 02-14-2012, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I won't be ripping blurays on this machine. I will watch blu ray movies and I have hundreds of ripped movies over the years (both mkv and avi containers). Does HD audio / TrueHD work if the media is ripped that way?

Are there any other drawbacks? I'm very familiar with Linux as a server, so setup is not an issue. That said, I don't want to be messing around with a file for five minute (or 30 seconds) after I select it from the file manager, I just want things to work once configured...

The only relevant thread is a year old so I thought I'd create a new one.
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post #2 of 67 Old 02-15-2012, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phie View Post

I won't be ripping blurays on this machine. I will watch blu ray movies and I have hundreds of ripped movies over the years (both mkv and avi containers). Does HD audio / TrueHD work if the media is ripped that way?

Are there any other drawbacks? I'm very familiar with Linux as a server, so setup is not an issue. That said, I don't want to be messing around with a file for five minute (or 30 seconds) after I select it from the file manager, I just want things to work once configured...

The only relevant thread is a year old so I thought I'd create a new one.

Your thread title is "Any drawbacks to using linux as HTPC?"

The main drawback to Linux is it's different (depending on chosen desktop) from Windows OS, or Apple OS.

And when things get tough, you need to open a command line terminal and deal with the fearsome command line.

Myself command line doesn't worry me; but newbies beware.

The best is the enemy of the good. Voltaire (1694-1778)

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post #3 of 67 Old 02-15-2012, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phie View Post

I won't be ripping blurays on this machine. I will watch blu ray movies and I have hundreds of ripped movies over the years (both mkv and avi containers). Does HD audio / TrueHD work if the media is ripped that way?

Are there any other drawbacks? I'm very familiar with Linux as a server, so setup is not an issue. That said, I don't want to be messing around with a file for five minute (or 30 seconds) after I select it from the file manager, I just want things to work once configured...

The only relevant thread is a year old so I thought I'd create a new one.

I'm not sure Blu-Ray direct playback is a sure thing yet... you can definitely rip-then-play.. and allegedly rip and stream at the same time..

also, no Netflix (if that matters to you)
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post #4 of 67 Old 02-15-2012, 08:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by OtherSongs View Post

Your thread title is "Any drawbacks to using linux as HTPC?"

The main drawback to Linux is it's different (depending on chosen desktop) from Windows OS, or Apple OS.

And when things get tough, you need to open a command line terminal and deal with the fearsome command line.

Myself command line doesn't worry me; but newbies beware.

As I said, I am familiar with Linux and operate several Linux and *BSD servers both at home and at data centers. So TrueHD and DTS-HD is now supported? Once I install the codecs I use, there is no reason I'll have to tinker around before the start of each movie to get the screen to align on the TV properly, the sound working, etc? This is my main complaint with my Macbook Pro running OS X.
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post #5 of 67 Old 02-16-2012, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by phie View Post

...So TrueHD and DTS-HD is now supported?...

Depends entirely on your hardware, but yes --> http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/User_Manu...dioPassthrough

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Originally Posted by phie View Post

...there is no reason I'll have to tinker around before the start of each movie to get the screen to align on the TV properly, the sound working, etc?...

nope
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post #6 of 67 Old 02-18-2012, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by phie View Post

Once I install the codecs I use, there is no reason I'll have to tinker around before the start of each movie to get the screen to align on the TV properly, the sound working, etc?

The first few tries expect to tinker. But Win breaks from time to time, so it's a toss up there. My experience is that Linux works great once configured. It did take me a couple of weeks to get everything working exactly how I wanted it to work, and I've been heavily into computers (work + hobby) for 20 years. The great thing about Linux is that anything is possible once you really dig into the configuration files.

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post #7 of 67 Old 02-18-2012, 04:43 PM
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The main drawback (or advantage, depending on your point of view) of using Linux as an HTPC is the lack of support for DRM sources, such as Netflix and Bluray. However, Amazon keeps adding more content to their video on demand service, and there are many other online streaming video sources that do work fine with Linux.

As for TrueHD and DTS-HD, yes I watch movies ripped to .mkv format, and those audio formats work fine using MythTV with an nVidia GT430 video card. If you're just watching ripped content, and not using your computer as a DVR, then XBMC would be a better choice than MythTV, but I don't know what the current status of HD Audio is on XBMC.

Which reminds me, if you haven't bought the hardware yet, make sure you get an nVidia video card. ATI and Intel aren't adequately supported yet in Linux.
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post #8 of 67 Old 02-18-2012, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ben_Tech View Post

The first few tries expect to tinker. But Win breaks from time to time, so it's a toss up there. My experience is that Linux works great once configured. It did take me a couple of weeks to get everything working exactly how I wanted it to work, and I've been heavily into computers (work + hobby) for 20 years. The great thing about Linux is that anything is possible once you really dig into the configuration files.

What things will I have to edit? Do you use xbmc? Any chance you could share and dump your config files so I could do a diff?
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post #9 of 67 Old 02-18-2012, 07:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by k_ross View Post

The main drawback (or advantage, depending on your point of view) of using Linux as an HTPC is the lack of support for DRM sources, such as Netflix and Bluray. However, Amazon keeps adding more content to their video on demand service, and there are many other online streaming video sources that do work fine with Linux.

As for TrueHD and DTS-HD, yes I watch movies ripped to .mkv format, and those audio formats work fine using MythTV with an nVidia GT430 video card. If you're just watching ripped content, and not using your computer as a DVR, then XBMC would be a better choice than MythTV, but I don't know what the current status of HD Audio is on XBMC.

Which reminds me, if you haven't bought the hardware yet, make sure you get an nVidia video card. ATI and Intel aren't adequately supported yet in Linux.

I was actually planning on using FreeBSD so I could have zfs (and consequently zpools) but *BSD doesn't support gpu acceleration from Sandy Bridge yet and I don't want to buy another graphics card, so alas, I'll be using Arch Linux.

If I put in a bluray disc, will I be able to play it? Or rip it?

It looks like HD Audio is working in v11.

What would I need to use the Linux box as a DVR? I only have an HD antenna to get some TV but barely use it...
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post #10 of 67 Old 02-19-2012, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by phie View Post

...I'll be using Arch Linux..

Thought you said that you don't like to tinker. When I tried Arch on my netbook, it didn't even install a graphical desktop environment by default. I had to manually install it, and then my keyboard/mouse no longer worked. Try tinkering without a keyboard!!

I then installed Ubuntu, and have been using and not tinkering ever since.
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post #11 of 67 Old 02-19-2012, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Arch takes a couple hours to install and configure and then you can leave it and forget it.

I have used debian for servers, but don't like Ubuntu.
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post #12 of 67 Old 02-19-2012, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by phie View Post

Arch takes a couple hours to install and configure and then you can leave it and forget it.

I have used debian for servers, but don't like Ubuntu.

After more than a day of Arch, I had a system with no access to. I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable Linux user, but Arch was way too much trouble to just get installed.

Debian has too many weird policies, like the Firefox/Iceweasel stupidness.
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post #13 of 67 Old 02-19-2012, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by phie View Post

I was actually planning on using FreeBSD so I could have zfs (and consequently zpools) but *BSD doesn't support gpu acceleration from Sandy Bridge yet and I don't want to buy another graphics card, so alas, I'll be using Arch Linux.

Sandy Bridge acceleration in Linux is usable, but incomplete. For example, there isn't any deinterlacing yet. Not a problem for watching ripped movies, but definitely a problem for watching broadcast material. Also, drivers other than nVidia tend to lack the nice HTPC-friendly options that the nVidia drivers have, such as being able to force an EDID block when you start up your computer with the TV off. Also, I don't know if they support audio over HDMI yet or not.

Quote:
If I put in a bluray disc, will I be able to play it? Or rip it?

MythTV can directly playback some Bluray discs, but not all of them. For most newer discs, you'll need to rip first. Don't know about XBMC.

Quote:
It looks like HD Audio is working in v11.

What would I need to use the Linux box as a DVR? I only have an HD antenna to get some TV but barely use it...

MythTV is a great DVR. You would just need a tuner card of some sort. For digital OTA and clear QAM cable, the Hauppauge HVR-950Q works quite well.

Hope this helps!
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post #14 of 67 Old 02-19-2012, 06:39 PM - Thread Starter
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How can I find out if audio over hdmi works> If not, what gpu do you recommend?
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post #15 of 67 Old 02-20-2012, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by phie View Post

How can I find out if audio over hdmi works> If not, what gpu do you recommend?

I use Ubuntu Server with XBMC, not only does audio work fine over my HDMI connector, but I'm also outputting it via my SPDIF connector at the same time to my receiver which allows me to watch on TV only with sound or flip on my receiver and get sound through it. The alsa config was a bit of pain to get configured correctly...took me serveral days when most of the time I can figure stuff out in a few hours !

I did find that I needed to use Ubuntu Server 11.10 as older versions had trouble with sound over HDMI. My graphics card is el-cheapo ZOTAC ZT-20309-10L GeForce 210 but works great with Nvidia's proprietary linux drivers!

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814500209
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post #16 of 67 Old 02-20-2012, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by phie View Post

How can I find out if audio over hdmi works> If not, what gpu do you recommend?

I did some Googling, and it looks like sound does work for Sandy Bridge. At least for 5.1. Not sure about the HD audio codecs, if that's important to you. It should work well enough for non-interlaced content. Deinterlacing would have to be done in software, and is usually limited to one-field or bob methods (read: not great).

As to what GPU I recommend, an nVidia GT430. It's a good HTPC video card, does onboard decoding of h.264 and other video codecs, and has excellent deinterlacing abilities. And it's not too expensive (less than $80), since it isn't really a gaming video card.

Hope this helps!
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post #17 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 03:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by k_ross View Post

Sandy Bridge acceleration in Linux is usable, but incomplete. For example, there isn't any deinterlacing yet. Not a problem for watching ripped movies, but definitely a problem for watching broadcast material. Also, drivers other than nVidia tend to lack the nice HTPC-friendly options that the nVidia drivers have, such as being able to force an EDID block when you start up your computer with the TV off. Also, I don't know if they support audio over HDMI yet or not.

Thanks. So that means if I have a 1080i TV show rip, I won't be able to watch it with sandy bridge's gpu?
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post #18 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 04:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by k_ross View Post

As for TrueHD and DTS-HD, yes I watch movies ripped to .mkv format, and those audio formats work fine using MythTV with an nVidia GT430 video card. If you're just watching ripped content, and not using your computer as a DVR, then XBMC would be a better choice than MythTV, but I don't know what the current status of HD Audio is on XBMC.

Which reminds me, if you haven't bought the hardware yet, make sure you get an nVidia video card. ATI and Intel aren't adequately supported yet in Linux.

Thanks again. Can I use sandy bridge's GPU and still have DTS-HD and TrueHD audio from ripped mkv's? And can I pass those codecs through to my AVR to deal with, or does the computer have to? (My AVR accepts DTS-HD and TrueHD).


I am so confused right now but if the above is possible, then I think I am set and can go ahead with building a Linux media center and file server combo rather than using Windows 7 as a dual boot when I wanted to watch videos.


PS: What are the drawbacks of MythTV (I will be using only for ripped mkv files, not as a DVR)? Why do you say it is a better choice?
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post #19 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by phie View Post

Thanks again. Can I use sandy bridge's GPU and still have DTS-HD and TrueHD audio from ripped mkv's? And can I pass those codecs through to my AVR to deal with, or does the computer have to? (My AVR accepts DTS-HD and TrueHD).


I am so confused right now but if the above is possible, then I think I am set and can go ahead with building a Linux media center and file server combo rather than using Windows 7 as a dual boot when I wanted to watch videos.


PS: What are the drawbacks of MythTV (I will be using only for ripped mkv files, not as a DVR)? Why do you say it is a better choice?

I'm pretty sure I've read somewhere that you can do DTS-HD and TrueHD passthrough with Sandy Bridge GPUs but I haven't tried it as I don't have a receiver that supports those (a A/V upgrade is coming for me in the next couple of years ). So I can't tell you definitively...

The main drawback of MythTV if you are not recording is the burden of the setup. IMHO, XBMC has a nicer UI and is much easier setup and has a lot more useful plugins, especially for streaming Internet Content. I personally use both and switch back and forth often for different things. If I didn't need a DVR, I'd probably just use XBMC.


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post #20 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phie View Post

PS: What are the drawbacks of MythTV (I will be using only for ripped mkv files, not as a DVR)? Why do you say it is a better choice?

Even if you don't use it as a DVR, if you add a tuner you can use it to watch "live" TV. The Program Guide is populated with schedule info that it gets via the OTA signals themselves. You can then browse the channels using the program guide, it's really neat!

And, if you have a TV with picture-in-picture, this will work for that too.
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post #21 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
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What tuner do you recommend? Why use MythTV rather than my regular TV with my HD OTA antenna?

What codecs do you use on Ubuntu? And what media player are you using besides MythTV? VLC? Plex? XBMC?

To be clear, MythTV is the only way to passthrough TrueHD and DTS-HD on Linux, correct? I don't need the computer to decode TrueHD or DTS-HD because my AVR does it for me...

Are there any other drawbacks to using Linux rather than Win7? I went to microcenter today and they had a GeForce GT 520 2GB DDR3 video card for $50 with HDMI, DVI and VGA. What would be the benefit of buying this card rather than using my Sandy Bridge GPU that is built in the processor (Intel HD 2000)?

Thank you for the help. I really want to install an OS tonight so I appreciate your response and patience with my questions!
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post #22 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phie View Post

What tuner do you recommend? Why use MythTV rather than my regular TV with my HD OTA antenna?

A Hauppauge 950Q USB tuner is a good choice. If you want an internal, still look at the Hauppauge line. As for MythTV over your regular TV: does your regular TV have a program guide?

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Originally Posted by phie View Post

What codecs do you use on Ubuntu? And what media player are you using besides MythTV? VLC? Plex? XBMC?

I don't recall installing any codecs. I believe that is a Windows thing. For media players I like mplayer. But that is because I have become a terminal (command line) geek. An it runs great from the terminal. You would want to use a GUI frontend. like smplayer. VLC is also a good video player.

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To be clear, MythTV is the only way to passthrough TrueHD and DTS-HD on Linux, correct?

Don't know, I use HDMI with 5.1 surround sound. That is the best that OTA does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by phie View Post

Are there any other drawbacks to using Linux rather than Win7? I went to microcenter today and they had a GeForce GT 520 2GB DDR3 video card for $50 with HDMI, DVI and VGA. What would be the benefit of buying this card rather than using my Sandy Bridge GPU that is built in the processor (Intel HD 2000)?

Thank you for the help. I really want to install an OS tonight so I appreciate your response and patience with my questions!

I can't compare anything to Window$, because I gave up using Window$ a long time ago. As for using an nVidia card, you get instant support after installing the nVidia drivers. The Linux drivers from nVidia can't be beat!
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post #23 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
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I can't compare anything to Window$, because I gave up using Window$ a long time ago. As for using an nVidia card, you get instant support after installing the nVidia drivers. The Linux drivers from nVidia can't be beat!

Thanks! Well, what do I need from the the nvidia Linux drivers that sandy bridge doesn't have?
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Thanks! Well, what do I need from the the nvidia Linux drivers that sandy bridge doesn't have?

People are certain that the nvidia hardware will have great hardware acceleration for video. Most of us run nvidia hardware. And people are not so certain about sandy bridge and your 7.1 audio needs.

So I say just go for it - it will only cost you some time and effort. Install away and find out what it's like. Perhaps you will get things working with your current hardware. Buy the nvidia later if you have to do so.

When/if you run into trouble, the people here will certainly help you. When it's all said and done either you will get it all working or you can buy the other OS and use it. However, all the cool kids run Linux.
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post #25 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 03:12 PM
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I don't believe the sandy bridge video drivers have all the bugs worked out. If you do use a tuner for OTA content, you will want deinterlacing. And (as already mentioned) you don't get good deinterlacing from sandy bridge.

I was trying the Intel video on a quad-core that I built. I wasn't real happy with the state of things, so I installed an AMD 6450 card that I had. But that card doesn't have the greatest Linux drivers, so I may go back to using the Intel graphics.

When using the "sandy bridge" graphics, I assume you are referring to the VAAPI drivers. To use that you need a media player that can utilize the VAAPI system. I found that you had to compile them from source, and support was still iffy.

I recommend using a nVidia card for simplicity and ease-of-use. After all, you don't want to spend all of your time tinkering.
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post #26 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I recommend using a nVidia card for simplicity and ease-of-use. After all, you don't want to spend all of your time tinkering.

too late, haha! and i haven't even installed the OS yet!

how does GeForce 520 compare to the 430? They are around the same price.... the box that I picked up that had this video card said it handles HD Audio... (but why would the video card do this???)
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post #27 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 03:27 PM
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Someone else will have to advise on the card differences. I need to know that myself.

The video card would handle the audio because of the HDMI connection.
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post #28 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phie View Post

too late, haha! and i haven't even installed the OS yet!

how does GeForce 520 compare to the 430? They are around the same price.... the box that I picked up that had this video card said it handles HD Audio... (but why would the video card do this???)

The 430 is about twice as powerful as the 520 but in case of an HTPC that's actually a disadvantage as it also means it produces twice as much heat (and the double processing power is wasted when used in a HTPC).

I'd recommend a passively cooled 520, I have one and it runs really cool (around 45C at 25C ambient), of course it varies depending on the thermal specifics of the case you use.
Passive 430's exist too but they are harder to keep cool.

I can't comment on audio over HDMI since I don't use that, but I think both are equally capable in that respect.

Also the 520 is VDPAU feature set D while the 430 is only feature set C:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nvidia_PureVideo

Quote:


The fifth generation of PureVideo HD, introduced with the Geforce GT 520, has significantly improved performance when decoding H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2 codecs (and, probably, other too) and provided TrueHD and DTS-HD Audio Bitstreaming Support. It is also capable of decoding 4K resolution videos at 3840 x 2160 pixels, (doubling the 1080p high-definition television standard in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions), also known as Quad Full High Definition (QFHD). Also MVC (Multiview Video Coding H.264 decoding support for Blu-ray 3D and other Full HD 3D at 1080p, and HD audio.

The fifth generation PureVideo HD is sometimes called "PureVideo HD 5" or VP5, although this is not an official Nvidia designation. This generation of PureVideo HD corresponds to Nvidia VDPAU Feature set D which due to limitations in all current VDPAU drivers does not support decoding higher resolutions than 2048x2048.


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post #29 of 67 Old 02-23-2012, 11:01 PM
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The 520-vs-430 debate came up recently on the MythTV mailing list. I believe the consensus was the 520 was faster for video decoding (the 430 is plenty fast in this regard too), but the 430 was faster for deinterlacing (since deinterlacing is done using shaders). The result was the 520 was just barely fast enough to use nVidia's best deinterlacer (advanced 2x) on 1080i, but on some content might stutter slightly. No such problems on the 430. Using nVidia's second best deinterlacer (temperal 2x) is no problem whatsoever for either card.

BTW, there's nothing wrong with using a Core i3/i5/i7 CPU and doing all the decoding and deinterlacing in software. Those CPU's have enough horsepower. There are many software deinterlacers to choose from as well. If you have enough CPU power, GreedyHighMotion 2x is excellent, comparable to nVidia's.

So I will echo the advice, give Sandy Bridge a try, either with VA-API for GPU decoding of video, or do it all on the CPU. If you don't like the results, or it consumes too much CPU resources, or the drivers aren't working well or are buggy, you can always toss in an nVidia GT430 (or 520 if you prefer).

Hope this helps!
-- Kevin
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post #30 of 67 Old 02-24-2012, 08:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, I've got ubuntu running. DTS-HD and TrueHD *DOES* work on Linux, so long as you are using ffmpeg, which MythTV uses, as does VLC and a host of other applications. http://ffmpeg.org/projects.html XBMC also works if you use the Audio Engine branch.

I'm sure I'll have questions once the 8TB of data is transfered over and I try to watch a movie or setup MythTV.
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