AMD Fusion based hardware for a HTPC? - Printable Version
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- poofyhairguy - 2010-10-31 23:00
Hannes The Hun Wrote:poofy, you know usually I'm 100% with you on HTPC stuff, but here I beg to differ. I don't see any value in these broadcom-like dedicated decoding cards as they are nothing more than a compromise for very weak systems and are becoming obsolete right as we speak.
It is way more than that. All systems that lack the general purpose power needed to decode x264 uses a dedicated decoding card: Blu Ray players, Popcorn Hour like boxes, cell phones, the new AppleTV, etc.
In fact the only things in common use that don't use dedicated decoding cards are (that are still sold): CPUs for HTPCs, GPUs for HTPC (using general shaders), and the PS3 (using those crazy Cell SPUs). That is why these are the three most upgradable and robust decoding solutions in the market.
Quote:1) the future for *cheap* consumer-ready set-top boxes lies in the fully integrated ARM-based chipsets as demonstrated by the new Apple TV or by nvidia's tegra2 platform.
I don't know of a ARM chip in the plans that has the raw power to decode 1080p x264 completely by itself. Most ARM platforms (such as the new AppleTV or cell phones) use dedicated x264 decoder chips.
In fact, I think you and I do believe in the exact same future.
Quote: while we'll see fully integrated, 1080p and 3D capable, highly integrated and cheap ARM smart phones and set-top boxes as soon as next year, the likes of syabas/sigma and realtek will start to become obsolete in the media player market and vanish (that's why I didn't like your popcorn hour example).
Popcorn Hours make a great example because what we have experienced with them (runs standard encodes easily, custom encodes hardly) is what we can expect for this ARM+Decoder chip future.
I mean seriously: The new AppleTV MIGHT be technically a different thing than the Popcorn Hour, but its dedicated decoder gives it the same disadvantages and tons of limits.
You see, to me, it is about two distinct groups:
1. Dedicated decoder chips stuck with a "good enough" CPU
2. Powerful general purpose hardware bent to decode
The Popcorn Hour, old AppleTV+Broadcom, New AppleTV, probably the GoogleTV and the Boxee Box all are group 1.
Our ION boxes (using its general Purpose GPU), a Mac Mini, an AMD Fusion box, a home built HTPC, etc. are group 2.
The only practical difference is price and robustness of decoding- group 1 is better with the former category while group 2 is better with the latter.
Quote:2) for HTPC enthusiasts like us that want to have fully customized, bleeding edge hardware for diverse requirements, the FUSION stuff (I like how they hid the "ION" part in there...) or the integrated intel GPU stuff are a very good starting point also if the dedicated graphics cards will still be ahead technologically as we see this right now with 3D, HD audio and HDMI 1.4.
This is where we disagree. I think Intel's direction with its HTPC future (aka the chipset behind the Boxee Box) is about bundling decoder chips with its Intel CPUs instead of ARM CPUs. Intel can see the writing on the wall and knows ARM+decoder chip is cheaper so it is trying to stop that before it starts. Even if they succeed its GPU division gives us NO hope that they will ever deliver a decoding solution as robust as Nvidia's and therefore is pretty much a downgrade from our current position.
The best (and last) hope for real HTPCs with robust decoding (now that Nvidia is cut out at the chipset level) is AMD's Fusion......
- Robotica - 2010-11-01 22:41
Nvidia is cut out at chipsetlevel.... Yes, but only with Intel since Nvidia can hook up with AMD and/or ARM. So I also expect some nice new combo´s by Nvidia real soon...
Example: Acer eMachines ER1402
- Hannes The Hun - 2010-11-02 11:46
poofy, I see again that we are thinking more or less the same here
I just didn't realize that you wanted to emphasize the merit of having a very flexible CUDA/VDPAU/whatever decoding architecture in comparison to hard-coded solutions.
robotica, AMD have their own successful graphics subdivision and nvidia already have their somewhat successful ARM chipset platform called tegra. this is the beauty of the ARM architecture, all you have to do is buy a license and you're good to go.
the point is, nvidia really should have taken the plunge some years ago and went ahead with their own x86 processor architecture. they could have bought another player who has the licenses (VIA e.g. back from their cyrix deal) and developed their own CPU instead of waiting until intel effectively shuts them off.
- darkscout - 2010-11-02 19:56
Robotica Wrote:AMD Fusion is capable of some amazing stuff: http://www.youtube.com/amdunprocessed
Notice the OS they were running?
Robotica Wrote:ps. From a individual user perspective I can imagine you advise to stick with ION (Intel) but from a open source community perspective I can not understand that attitude.
Not everyone has the GPL zealotry of RMS engrained in them. I'm more of a BSD License guy. I don't have a problem with the way NVIDIA does stuff. ATI is taking the lazy way out. I paid NVIDIA for a 'solution' and they delivered. Same reason my primary laptop is a MacBookPro.
NVIDIA is 'the' solution right now for many people. 1080p. Low Profile.
Hopefully they start making some 'embedded' solutions soon. One of their fanless chips with a SheevaPlug like hardware set. 1080p in the palm of your hand.
- poofyhairguy - 2010-11-02 21:28
Hannes The Hun Wrote:the point is, nvidia really should have taken the plunge some years ago and went ahead with their own x86 processor architecture. they could have bought another player who has the licenses (VIA e.g. back from their cyrix deal) and developed their own CPU instead of waiting until intel effectively shuts them off.
Three Biggest Mistakes of GPU Companies in the Last Five Years:
1. NVidia not buying Via when it could to get at a x86 license. Might kill the company as we know it in the long run.
2. Intel not ditching its internal GPU department years ago and replacing it with the PowerVR folks. Now we have to deal with "licensed" GPUs and their terrible drivers just as Intel integrates its GPUs more with its CPUs. Overnight Intel goes from Open Source hero to has-been.
3. Nvidia's 9xxx series quality control on mobile GPUs. Pretty much killed the OSX market for them going forward...
- Hannes The Hun - 2010-11-02 23:50
poofyhairguy Wrote:3. Nvidia's 9xxx series quality control on mobile GPUs. Pretty much killed the OSX market for them going forward...
didn't this also affect the 8xxx mobile GPUs? I have a 8600M GT in my Dell and know that I'm affected but until now nothing happened ^^
but so far, on the mistakes of the green goblin: full ACK
I'm just glad that their software department is still top notch
- poofyhairguy - 2010-11-03 00:43
Hannes The Hun Wrote:didn't this also affect the 8xxx mobile GPUs?
- Robotica - 2010-11-03 01:08
Resident Hardware Guru? Hardware Evangelist!
- poofyhairguy - 2010-11-03 01:55
Robotica Wrote:Resident Hardware Guru? Hardware Evangelist!
- poofyhairguy - 2010-11-03 04:48
Robotica Wrote:Nvidia is cut out at chipsetlevel.... Yes, but only with Intel since Nvidia can hook up with AMD and/or ARM. So I also expect some nice new combo´s by Nvidia real soon...
The ER1402 gives me little hope. When it was released it had a chipset weaker than ION1 (9200m vs 9400m) long after ION was on the shelf. I mean, a weaker GPU a year later? No thank you. Especially not when ION2 was released before then.
The best Neo powered boxes all have ATI GPUs, which shows that the AMD platform favors ATI tech:
What is even worse is when Fusion hits the market and the GPU is built in, Nvidia will be locked out of the GPU chipset game just like it was with the newer i3 and Atom CPUs. The whole Optimus technology is basically Nvidia saying " ok, we lost on the integrated GPU front."
Nvidia's best hope is ARM, and coincidentally Nvidia + ARM is the platform I have the least amount of excitement for. To much code and too many of the decent versions of Flash only run on x86. And also I think Nvidia's magic unified driver that make things like VDPAU work so good goes out the window outside x86.
Even with ARM though something seems to be wrong with its Tegra platform to make the Boxee guys run from it. Nvidia is in bad shape for the future, and that bodes poorly for the overall future of HTPCs...