Noobie HD H/W question

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daclina Offline
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Post: #1
Hi,

I am in the process of building an HD player slimline machine. For the moment I will install XP and partition the hdd and put ubuntu + the latest alpha of XBMC for linux so I can play around with it. Here is the question:

I have a p4 2.8 with an intel board with 2gb of DDR400 ram and a slimline GF FX5200, which fit into the case perfectly, but I'm not sure if this setup will have enough juice to play 1080p content without serious frame drop. I will be playing MKV's @ 1080p like the Star Wars stuff and Transformers.

I just need some input on what my options are (obviously price being a factor). This is how i c them:

1. Leave as is - may struggle (or seriously struggle) with 1080p stuff - no cost
2. Buy a GF 7x or 8x agp card with Purevide HD support - will that be enough? - small cost
3. Buy a whole new setup - AMD X2 entry level, 2gb DDR800 ram, GF 8x integrated display with HDMI output or separate GF8x PCI-X? - semi expensive
4. Similar setup with mid / top range Core2 Duo? - very expensive

O fcourse I would rather have a better working solution, but I'd like to not have something which I will need to upgrade anytime soon and options 3 and 4 I cannot afford right now - so this will have to wait a bit.

I see there are a lot of questions re dual-cores and dropping frames and cores being under-utilsed etc so I am a little confused on the XBMC for Linux front, although I know its still in early alpha atm.

Thnaks in advance - advice would be appreciated.
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jmarshall Offline
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Post: #2
If you need it in the next year or so, you'll need more CPU for 1080p.

Additional quality (better upsampling for SD content) may require a better GPU, but CPU is what is important for playback.

I suggest going with what you already have and seeing how it plays back your content.

Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
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topfs2 Offline
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Post: #3
Well I have nearly that equipment (fx5600 and Celeron 2.6) and it's slow but works for 720. The bird scene in 720p is the most it can handle.
So If your going for 1080p I would definatly tell you too move up to Core 2 Duo.
The GFX card is the lower end and might cause you trouble when more shaders are used (currently there are SW options with upscaling and such).

Also there is quite a nasty bugg with fx5xxx series that gives you green weird stuff all over screen, I fixed this by using forcing TripleBuffer in xorg but I can't vauch for it working on your card. But it might not even exist on your card though.

If you have problems please read this before posting

Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.

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daclina Offline
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Post: #4
Well I don't know if this makes much of a difference but my CPU is a P4 processor (not Celeron) with HT. I have been looking around for AGP 7x or 8x agp nvidia series, but have found few of them and quite costly - almost like the 3rd option isn't a bad way to go.

I think I'll set it up as is and see how it turns out - then I will play around with different configurations.

Thanks for the help.

jmarshall Wrote:If you need it in the next year or so, you'll need more CPU for 1080p.

Additional quality (better upsampling for SD content) may require a better GPU, but CPU is what is important for playback.

I suggest going with what you already have and seeing how it plays back your content.
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xgrep Offline
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Post: #5
A P4 with HT will struggle a lot with 1080p, might be able to handle 720p. Mixed with that video card I would say it probably could. My old media box was a P4 1.6 + I think a similar card to that and it could almost handle 720p.

I agree with jmarshall. I would try it out on your box and see how it goes. Then after if you're still in the mood for an upgrade that I'd suggest #3 which is pretty close to my current setup. X2 5000+, 2G, integrated gf7050. Plays 720p very well, 1080p is hit and miss. Some play awesome, some skip now and then.

Cheers,
xgrep

return null;
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BigBellyBilly Offline
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Post: #6
You might want to consider one of the new range of mobos that have vastly improved onboard graphics with h/w video decoding.

AMD 780 chipset - (but cant send multichannel audi down HDMI)

Intel G45 - (due about May)

The AMD is already out and proven to be very capable of decoding 1080 mkv VC1 etc with minimal cpu load. see anantech for details.

Intels G45 will be a direct competitor and if it can do multi-channel audio down hdmi then I'd expect a lot of HTPC's to be built around it.

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rodalpho Offline
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Post: #7
What makes you think that GPU offloading will work on linux?
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waldo22 Offline
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Post: #8
rodalpho Wrote:What makes you think that GPU offloading will work on linux?

Here's hoping for at least an ATI proprietary binary that will support it. They say they are "...committed to the space" whatever that means.

For now, it won't work but it's a good investment for the possible future compatibility. According to Gamester17, 2 things have to happen.

1) ATI (In the case of the 780G/UVD support) has to support it in their binary or in the open source driver
2) FFMPEG has to support it

http://forum.xbmc.org/showpost.php?p=177...stcount=11
Gamester17 Wrote:There will first need to be device-driver support from the GPU hardware manufacturer (ie. NVIDIA/ATI/INTEL, which there is is none today other than for XvMC that suppports MPEG-2), then there need to be support in the demxer and codec (for which XBMC uses FFmpeg open source codec suit). Only after the device-driver and demxer/codec already supports it can we add it to XBMC, so yes there is a lot of dependencies requires even before the XBMC developers will get invoved.

If either of those things happen, it will work fine.

...but those are big ifs

-Wes
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rodalpho Offline
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Post: #9
I really don't see either one happening. Anyone remember when DVDs first came out and there were a bunch of addon mpeg2 accelerator bundles like creative's "dxr2"? They didn't last long, because CPU speed quickly caught up and was capable of decoding DVD-quality mpeg2 in software. The same thing is already happening in the HD space.
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waldo22 Offline
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Post: #10
rodalpho Wrote:I really don't see either one happening. Anyone remember when DVDs first came out and there were a bunch of addon mpeg2 accelerator bundles like creative's "dxr2"? They didn't last long, because CPU speed quickly caught up and was capable of decoding DVD-quality mpeg2 in software. The same thing is already happening in the HD space.

rodalpho,

I don't think this is the same thing at all.

First of all, this is a matter of efficiency and power usage as much as anything else.

The review sites (specifically AnandTech and ARS) have reported cpu usage in the 40 - 60% range when decoding 1080p h.264 video, and have even stated that playback is possible with a single core sempron.

Supposedly, this should be possible with the Intel G45 (new Clear Video tech) and Nvidia PureVideo2 HD solutions as well.

Not only does this allow us to use our hardware more efficiently, it allows us to not have to buy a $300 processor (or more) for decoding HD. Right now, the fastest dual/quad core available can't handle 1080p h.264 or VC1 in XBMC for Linux. The only way to play them on a personal computer is using one of these "acceleration" technologies, which means using Windows.

I remember the dxr2 and dxr3 processors very well. In fact, I have one in a drawer right behind me. Smile

I think this is completely different than that, however, because these technologies (UVD, PureVideo HD, Intel Clear Video in the G45 GMA chipset) are built in to all of the latest and greatest GPUs, and are expected to be included in integrated graphics solutions as well.

When technologies like this are ubiquitous, I think we can expect them to be taken advantage of on a wide scale.

Having support in Linux, however, is more of a toss-up.

I just don't think processors will progress as fast as you're thinking.

Will we have to wait two years and buy a quad-core running at 3 Ghz to be able to decode the bird scene in Planet Earth?

I hope not...

-Wes
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waldo22 Offline
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Post: #11
The point I meant to make is that we are trying to build cheap, quiet, and power-efficient HTPC boxes dedicated to running XBMC, and we don't want to have to use a C2D or Quad-core processor in order to decode HD video that has already been out for 2 years, and we don't want to wait 2 more years for processors to catch up, either.

Here's hoping these acceleration technologies receive widespread adoption, and soon.

Wink

-Wes
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BLKMGK Offline
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Post: #12
I'd like to see the technology for hardware acceleration on Linux happen too. However to say that the fastest dual and quads cannot decode this video NOW is incorrect.

I have a 65nm C2D 2.66Ghz CPU cranked to 3Ghz and the bird scene does not drop frames for me. I cannot recall what the CPU utilization was when it was last tested but it was NOT pushing 100% like it used to - the code has improved and I posted about it when I noticed it. This CPU is FAR from being one of the fastest around - the 45nm E8400 in my desktop hits 4Ghz, the 65nm Q6600 in another machine runs 3.1Ghz and beats the E8400 on multithreaded tasks.

These aren't cheap CPUs but they also aren't $300 CPUs and their price is falling. The new 45nm C2D run a good 10C cooler at full load and use a good bit less energy too. If the vendors of the accelerated hardware won't release specs and help driver development that's fine - the CPU vendors seem to be taking care of the issue. <shrug>

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waldo22 Offline
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Post: #13
Well, that's great to hear about your C2D... I thought I read that even overclocked to 3GHz you had dropped frames on the bird scene, but that may have been a post from a few weeks ago.

I have to admit I haven't kept up with CPUs the way I used to. I have an Opteron Dual Core at 2.6 GHz with 1MB cache per core, but I guess that's aging now. I haven't looked at CPUs since I bought that one. I haven't read good things about Phenom so far, though. They say the "revision B" should ramp better than the first gen, though. Guess C2D is the way to go right now.

Anyway, maybe in the next few months we will be able to get a sub-$100 CPU that is low power and gets the 1080p job done.

BLKMGK Wrote:If the vendors of the accelerated hardware won't release specs and help driver development that's fine - the CPU vendors seem to be taking care of the issue. <shrug>

I think that's the key. Some day these vendors (of all tech products, not just GPUs, accelerators, and such) will realize they need to get their heads out of their collective arses and embrace open source, or they'll become irrelevant. At the very least, they should release specs and programming interfaces.

Here's hoping they see the light.

-Wes
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BLKMGK Offline
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Post: #14
It WAS indeed skipping still when I first pushed to that speed - even in my own encodes of that clip but almost nothing else. However the code has improved and my last test played smoothly. I honestly do not run that clip often but came across it while playing trailers and was pleasantly surprised. I ran it multiple times to be sure.

I actually have an AMD specc'd pretty close to your's. When I built this machine the choice was clear - Intel. The difference in speed was breathtaking. Even the fastest AMD can barely keep up with the slowest of the new Intel CPUs. If you build a new machine look very closely at the crop of 45nm Intel CPUs and hope for AMD to get back on their feet again soon...

Edit: I ought to be most clear. The CPU in my XBMC machine is an older C2D, my desktop has an E8400 and is the one I'm most impressed with. For the difference in price go with the newer tech if you can.

Openelec Gotham, MCE remote(s), Intel i3 NUC, DVDs fed from unRAID cataloged by DVD Profiler. HD-DVD encoded with Handbrake to x.264. Yamaha receiver(s)
(This post was last modified: 2008-04-14 03:53 by BLKMGK.)
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