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Adobe Flash HD-Video GPU Acceleration Guide E-mail
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Written by Servando Silva - Edited by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Adobe Flash HD-Video GPU Acceleration Guide
ATI GPU Acceleration Problems
Setting up your ATI GPU
NVIDIA Control Panel Settings
Testbeds and Methodology
High-End PC CPU usage
ATI Image Quality
NVIDIA Image Quality
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Testing Methodology

As I´ve told you at the beginning, DXVA is targeted to use a mid-low GPU in a system so it can match a high CPU performance when playing HD content. If you try using CPU, you´ll need at least a Core 2 Duo or AMD equivalent to watch it stutter-free. If you own a low-end system, HD content playback is nearly impossible, but if you have a mid-low GPU that meets the required series then you´re done because that´s the clue for HD. Now, thinking on our readers, the tests are targeted for 2 kinds of audiences:

  1. Those who have a mid or high-end PC and they use it for all their activities including home entertainment.
  2. Those who bought a low-end PC and they have a GPU or in fact, people who bought an HTPC for entertainment purposes. This second class needs to take advantage of all their components because otherwise it won´t do what it´s supposed to.

Playing music, watching image galleries, reproducing your favorite videos, movies, and surfing on the internet while still having some power to play from time to time is the reason HTPCs were done. From all this, a CPU can do them all without problems, even playing DVDs, but HD is the present and a low-end CPU or even a mid-grade CPU won´t be able to smoothly reproduce 1080p content. Let´s check our test systems and you will quickly understand why I choose them now.

Test System (High-End)

  • Motherboard: ASUS Rampage II Extreme X58
  • System Memory: 3x1GB Kingston Hyper X 1866MHz 7-8-7-20
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 920 @ 2.66GHz
  • Audio: X-Fi Titanium
  • Video: ATI HD 4870 1GB Edition
  • Disk Drive 1: Western Digital 150GB 10,000 RPM SATA
  • Disk Drive 2: (Paging File) Western Digital 320 GB 7,000 RPM SATA
  • Optical Drive: LG SATA 20x DVD R/W
  • Enclosure: Sunbeam Tech Station
  • PSU: Antec Signature Series 850 watts
  • Monitor: Acer P241w 2ms
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Test System (Low-End ION-based HTPC)

  • Motherboard: ASRock AMCP7AION-HT
  • System Memory: 2x1GB Elixir DDR2 800MHz 5-5-5 (1700Mb usable)
  • Processor: Intel Atom 330
  • Audio: On-board Realtek
  • Disk Drive 1: Seagate 320GB 5,400 RPM SATA
  • Disk Drive 2: (Paging File) Seagate 320GB 5,400 RPM SATA
  • Optical Drive: SATA 20x DVD R/W /Blu-Ray
  • Enclosure: ASRock enclosure
  • PSU: 65 watts AC-DC converter
  • Monitor: Acer P241w 2ms
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate x64

I won´t really show lots of graphics and numbers. Based on what we want to check, the important value is the CPU usage while watching HD videos. Other than that, I´ll show you some image comparisons in order to see IQ with and without GPU usage.

We used the latest Official Adobe Flash Player version for non DXVA tests and Adobe Flash Player for the DXVA tests. While these both where the latest versions available before the tests, Adobe updated both official and BETA versions some days ago. Download latest Adobe Flash Player Versions on the next links:

Tested Videos

For our Flash tests we used a pair of videos which everyone can use and test. Youtube was selected because it is the biggest Flash-based site on the web, and it´s getting very common on social networks like facebook or others. Since Youtube added 1080p support in November we are using 1080p videos for the CPU usage tests. The same videos in 720p resolution are used for the Image Quality tests. The reason behind this is that 1080p videos normally don´t get any difference when enhanced with the GPU. For example, a Blu-Ray disc won´t see lots of IQ enhancements when using DXVA because the source is High-Quality already. In the other hand, if you enhance a DVD or a 720p or lower video, chances are that you see a big difference between enhancing your video with GPU and not doing it. The videos used for our Adobe Flash Tests are:

As you can see, when pressing the HD button on Youtube, you can select either 720p or 1080p. More and more videos will be uploaded at 1080p the next months. CPU usage tests were done while reproducing Big Buck Bunny animation @ 1080p resolutions and measuring the CPU usage average after the credits. IQ tests were done with both Big Buck Bunny animation and New Moon Scene at 720p resolution.


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