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Discussion Starter #1
I played around with my systems in the house to see what kind of performance requirements are really required of the HD and BD DVD format of 1080p.

I downloaded a pile of 1080p content from the Windows Media HD site and also grabbed a VC-1 encoded file. I have yet to find any AVI or WMV files encoded in H.264.

With the above files, I set out to torture the life out of my systems. So I tortured my systems... Here is what I discovered...

An A64 3500+ with a Radeon 9600XT is actually 95% capable of playing VC-1 and has no trouble with MPEG2 or WMV-HD at either 720p or 1080p. Using the H.264 codec in FFDShow, it was able to play some H.264 MP4 files without any glitches either. The only file to cause the CPU to peg out at 100% was the VC-1 file.

An AXP 2500+ and a X1300 Pro is only capable of MPEG2 and WMV-HD up to 720p. 1080p is just too much and the display glitches out during playback. Things just get worse from there on the other formats.

An AXP 2500+ and a X1600 Pro is almost as capable as the A64 and 9600XT. I only had issues with the VC-1 content. I plan on OCing this system to AXP 3200+ for testing to see if that helps.

From what I can see, the best minimum setup would be a A64 3500+ and a Radeon X1600 Pro.

Once I get some proper H.264 files, I will try again on all systems.
 

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Two other things to consider.

1. Audio. I'm sure there's some extra headroom required for processing the HD audio.

2. DRM. When the WMV-HD test files were first released with DRM they required an extra 10-15% processing power (IIRC) compared to non-DRM'd material. I'm not sure if this will be true of HD-DVD playback or not.
 

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What was the bit rate of the samples that you tried?

A HD-DVD will usually run around 20mps for VC-1 and 30mps for MPEG-2.

Plus the decoding of such a large bit stream will greatly increase your processing needs.

I seriously doubt that
the best minimum setup would be a A64 3500+ and a Radeon X1600 Pro.
will be enough for 1080p smooth playback.

Also, if you plan of using HDMI with TrueHD, this is another high bandwidth decode that must be done.

I hope the new players of PowerDVD, WinDVD, ZoomPlayer and TheatreTek will use multi-threads to process the video/audio streams efficiently.

My Prediction of a min system will be
CPU --- AMD 4000+ or Intel E6400 (both D dual core and not OC'ed)
Memory - 1G min/ 2G with Vista
Video - Nvidia 7950GT or ATI X1950Pro (Reason is enough GPU prower, HDCP compatiablity, and sound integerated HDMI)

That's what i will shoot for next year.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What was the bit rate of the samples that you tried?
AVICodec reports the WMV-HD at 9 - 11 Mbps and the VC-1 at 11.5 Mbps. By your next statement, something is definitely amiss with the files I was looking at.

A HD-DVD will usually run around 20mps for VC-1 and 30mps for MPEG-2.
I hope the new players of PowerDVD, WinDVD, ZoomPlayer and TheatreTek will use multi-threads to process the video/audio streams efficiently.
Agreed.

Video - Nvidia 7950GT or ATI X1950Pro (Reason is enough GPU prower, HDCP compatiablity, and sound integerated HDMI)
Don't like the idea of blowing several 100 $$$ for a vid card but I generally agree with this as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
1. Audio. I'm sure there's some extra headroom required for processing the HD audio.
The "fastest" system has onboard puke. My main HT system has NVidia Soundstorm and is feeding the bitstream via Toslink to my HT amp. The "weakest" system has onboard puke as well.

2. DRM. When the WMV-HD test files were first released with DRM they required an extra 10-15% processing power (IIRC) compared to non-DRM'd material. I'm not sure if this will be true of HD-DVD playback or not.
Never heard about this so can't comment intelligently.
 

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The idea system would be able to process and decode TrueHD 7.1. This will probable require a receiver connected via HDMI 1.3 from the Video card. The video card's API must now include sound.

I guess what i am saying is that we are at a new generation of equipment...

New Video Card with TrueHD
New Software with TrueHD
New Received with TrueHD

I will buy a new receiver that has 4 HDMI 1.3 inputs.

Will video cards ever have HMDI 1.3?

A HD-DVD will usually run around 20mps for VC-1 and 30mps for MPEG-2.
I read this over at AVSForums. I have no way of proving ths....
PS - MPEG-2 is for BluRay only
 

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The odd HD DVD has MPEG2.
Did you mean AVC - some of those were released in Japan.
...A HD-DVD will usually run around 20mps for VC-1 and 30mps for MPEG-2...
I hink this comes from the specs of the first laptops - from Toshiba and Sony - that were able to play back HD and BD disks, respectively: they claim to do this as long as the AVC/VC-1 streams don't exceed 20Mbps.
...I downloaded a pile of 1080p content from the Windows Media HD site and also grabbed a VC-1 encoded file.
...The only file to cause the CPU to peg out at 100% was the VC-1 file.
VC-1 decoding acceleration isn't supported in the codecs fully - according to Zambelli on doom9 and Amir on AVSForum. This will come in few more iterations of the codecs (e.g. PureVideoHD in beta now).

Diogen.
 

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From today's AnandTech here:
"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. The E6400 may work well enough, but not even the 8800 GTX can guarantee zero dropped frames on the E6300. ATI owners will want to lean more towards an E6700 processor, but can get away with the E6600 in a pinch. 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."

Diogen.
 

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1. Audio. I'm sure there's some extra headroom required for processing the HD audio.
In sound card pass through mode, using software decoding and passing it directly to the A/V receiver for decoding can work better than decoding DD 5.1 to PCM.
 

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an E6300/E6400 can be OC'ed to 2.8/3.2 gHz with ease. These should be enough to run any HD material .... especially at 3.2gHz. This is faster than the X6800 from Intel and much cheaper!
 

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diogen ... finally read the article

I am still sticking with my upgrade plan ...
CPU ----- Intel E6400 oc'ed to 3.2gHz
Memory - 1G min/ 2G with Vista
Video ---- Nvidia 7950GT (GPU prower, HDCP compatiablity, and will have sound integerated HDMI)

According to Anandtech, an x6800 with the 7950GT hit an average of 43.5% with a max of 68.8%. At 3.2ghz I will have almost 10% more CPU available.
 

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I don't share Anand's fear that future H.264 encodes might need more CPU/GPU power.
The algorithms do get more complex, but the bitrate will go down fast (just like VC-1: from ~20Mbps in "The Last Samurai" to ~10Mbps today).
And I believe that new video drivers will take care of most of the decoding so that what today barely does it will do it easy (just like WMV-HD).

Diogen.
 

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Anand posted an update on hidef playback including different formats using different video cards.
As can be seen on the 4th page, the 7600GT beats some of the 7950GTX reinforcing the argument that pure Hz is all that's needed and fancy 3D abilities of the later cards go unused in hidef playback.
It also points out that not that much of the GPU assistance is needed when using modern CPUs.

Diogen.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Interesting commentary on that followup.

Unfortunately, unless the ATI cards are miracle workers or there are some serious driver improvements, I am really looking at having to upgrade the crap out of at least one of my HTPC systems. Either to an E6400/6600 or to a X2 at the least.

Part of my future watching will, of course, include the continuing saga of HDCP, Vista and whether or not XP will be allowed to play HD-DVD/BD.

Boy, I hate loving technology. Although I suppose it is better than being addicted to crack. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well, with the now available PDVD Ultra, the specs for HD/BD are out...

For Video:

nVidia: GeForce 6600 GT, GeForce 7600 GT, GeForce 7800 GTX 512, GeForce 7900 GX2, GeForce 7900 GTX, GeForce 7950 GX2

ATI: X1600 series, X1800 series, X1900 series

Video RAM: Graphics card memory requires 256 MB or above
For CPU:



  • Intel (Minimum):
  • Pentium 4 541 3.2 GHz, Pentium D 840 3.2 GHz, Pentium D 930 3.0 GHz or 940 3.2 GHz, Core Duo T2400 1.83 GHz, Pentium M 755 2.0 GHz

    Intel (Recommended):
  • Pentium EE 840 3.2 GHz or 955 3.4 GHz, Pentium D 945 3.4 GHz, 950 3.4 GHz or 960 3.6 GHz, Core Duo T2500 2.0 GHz, T2600 2.16 GHz or T2700 2.33 GHz, Core 2 Duo E6300 1.8 GHz, E6400 2.13 GHz, E6600 2.4 GHz, E6700 2.66 GHZ or X6800 2.93 GHz

    AMD (Minimum):
  • Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 2.0 GHz or 4000+ 2.0 GHz, Turion 64 X2 TL-50 1.6 GHz, TL-52 1.6 GHz or TL-56 1.8 GHz

    AMD (Recommended):
  • Athlon 64 FX FX-60 2.6 GHz or FX-62 2.8 GHz, Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2 GHz, 4400+ 2.2 GHz, 4600+ 2.4 GHz, 4800+ 2.4 GHz or 5000+ 2.6 GHz, Turion 64 X2 TL-60 2.0 GHz
So it looks like one of my systems is out for graphics and both are appearently out for CPU.

Good thing that new X1950 Pro AGP has an MSRP of only $210 USD.
 
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