Blu-ray and HD DVD: Is Your PC Ready? – Part 2: Performance

In the not so distant past, a 1Ghz PC was all that was needed to keep your HTPC chuggin along. However, next gen DVD playback, HDTV, and Vista are set to change those rules. You can count on seeing dual core CPUs and 2GB of ram to ensure smooth playback. Hardware Zone takes a look at AVIVO and PureVideo and how they will offload next gen DVD playback. They do a thorough job of describing the process each CODEC takes to get the job done.

From the article:

Using CyberLink's PowerDVD 6.5 HD DVD Edition, we've stumbled on an interesting observation during our CPU loading tests for VC-1 encoded movies. As we've mentioned before, Cyberlink's tools do not yet properly recognize ATI hardware as being HD 'compatible' because of their close relationship with NVIDIA, though it works just as well with both for H.264 HD DVDs. However, the player doesn't recognize AVIVO acceleration for VC-1 encoded movies. Under PowerDVD's options, hardware acceleration is always disabled.

Despite this little anomaly in PowerDVD though, it might seem that acceleration does work and may be automatically enabled by ATI drivers. Looking at our charts, the CPU load average on the Radeon X1650 XT is around 43%. On the GeForce 7600 GT with acceleration disabled, CPU load hovers around 53%, 10% higher than the ATI card. By enabling hardware acceleration, CPU load on the NVIDIA system drops by a further 20% down to 33% average. For now, take ATI's performance in VC-1 encoded movies with a pinch of salt.