High definition is the future entertainment standard of
tomorrow's video's. Playing high definition content on current generation PCs
can boggle down even the fastest processors because there is more data to
handle. Similar to the need for DVD accelerators a few years ago, nVIDIA
PureVideo enables computer users to view MPEG-2/DVD and WMV HD formats without
slowing the PC to a crawl.
The PureVideo standard incorporates a hardware
accelerator for the afore mentioned MPEG-2/DVD, and Microsoft Windows Media HD
Video standards (WMV HD). According to nVIDIA's documentation on PureVideo, the
GPU (GeForce 6 and 7 series GPUs) takes on video decoding tasks from the CPU,
and the end result is smoother, shutter free HD playback. nVIDIA PureVideo also
supports most current and future high definition formats. The system seems to be
built with a good degree of future proofing for upcoming standards.
PureVideo is more than just a media accelerator; it also
includes features to improve video picture quality. DVD, cable and satellite
video provide poor crispness, clearness and smoothness that consumers have been
desperate to be "saved from." nVIDIA's PureVideo technology applies spatial
temporal de-interlacing to apparently deliver a better image than traditional
de-interlacing can muster. PureVideo also fixes the 3:2 pull down problem that
can arise from 24 fps video being converted to 30 fps for viewing on TVs or
monitors. By recovering the original 24 frame content, PureVideo allows for a
clear crisper image.
Another neat feature of PureVideo is its ability to
scale videos to any resolution, while maintaining a relatively detailed picture.
This means users can view lower resolution videos at a high resolution without
suffering too much from blocky or blurry pictures.
To test PureVideo's HD accelerating capabilities, we
decided to play one video through Windows Media Player 10, which was downloaded
from Microsoft's WMV HD Content Showcase. The
Discoverers (IMAX) video is available in both 720P and 1080P formats and CPU
utilization was read through Task Manager.
When the 720P version of the Discoverers
high definition video is loaded, there is an immediate spike to 100%
CPU usage but that drops within a second to normal operating range. Throughout
the whole video CPU usage jumped between 25 and 44%; not bad when you consider
an AMD Athlon64 4000+ system without HD acceleration runs at 100% load.
With the 1080P version of the Discoverers
video, CPU usage jumps between 40-53%. Higher, but acceptable and the video was very fluid. Both
high definition video tests were done with the onboard GeForce 6150 videocard.
separately is nVIDIA's PureVideo Decoder software
(retails for between $20-$50 US) which functions with any GeForceFX/6/7 series
videocard. The software essentially turns a desktop PC into a home entertainment
center with the ability to watch DVD movies or other computer related videos,
listen to music or view pictures.
The look and feel of nStant Media is very
similar to Microsoft WindowsXP Media Center's media browser. Under the 'Watch
Movies' category, users can watch videos stored on the HDD or on disc. 'Listen to
Music' has the same options as does 'View Pictures.' The 'Settings'
options allow users to change language, when the nVIDIA screen saver kicks in, parental control, closed captioning,
display formats (Standard definition or high), etc. Overall the look and feel of nStant
Media is nice and the program is extremely easy to use.