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Editor's Corner: Nvidia’s Ion Revisited, 7.1 Ch. LPCM Fixed

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June 9, 2009 9:10:07 AM

Hi
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-13
a b V Motherboard
June 9, 2009 10:33:11 AM

So I guess with the falling prices of processors and video cards, you'd really get an Ion only if you're really just constrained with space.

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3
June 9, 2009 2:01:20 PM

I'd love an Ion, but it has a design flaw - only three HD connections. I need at least four - one CF-Card for the OS, two HDs for RAID1, and one optical. As near as I can tell, the only ITX board on the market that fits my needs is the MSI IM-945GC - which is what I'm currently using for my ITX NAS.
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June 9, 2009 4:35:08 PM

Wow, one of the first boards to deliver video and 7.1 LPCM via HDMI, and you test it with a 5.1 setup? How can you be sure you tested it's functionality, if you are using a 5.1 setup? Please elaborate.
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June 9, 2009 4:39:33 PM

Also, CoreAVC have released a decoder that can use CUDA to accelerate playback. From what i've heard, its much better than DXVA and has none of the format limitations. Some testing with that would be great to see. Or is Tom's opposed to open source?
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June 9, 2009 4:41:19 PM

Hix,

Without a 7.1 channel setup, the best option available is setting 7.1-channel output and missing the two side channels, which works. The problem previously was that Ion was only doing stereo LPCM, despite being set to 5.1/7.1 in Windows. This was a shortcoming of the DVD playback software, which, as I mentioned, has since been fixed to properly support this board's capabilities.

Thanks for the feedback,
Chris
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June 9, 2009 4:43:57 PM

hixbotAlso, CoreAVC have released a decoder that can use CUDA to accelerate playback. From what i've heard, its much better than DXVA and has none of the format limitations. Some testing with that would be great to see. Or is Tom's opposed to open source?


So it looks like the $15 version of the software supports what you're talking about. I'll look into it! Thanks for the tip,
Chris
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June 9, 2009 5:03:51 PM

Cheers cangelini, I enjoy your articles.
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4
June 9, 2009 5:17:20 PM

Glad to read this review. I'm building a new HTPC and decided against the Ion/Atom platform in favor of a 9300/C2 Duo because I heard about the problems with Hulu and the current limitations of the Atom. Looks like I made the right choice for now but we'll see.
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4
June 9, 2009 5:52:21 PM

I'll be building an HTPC sometime early next year and I'm glad to have seen these articles as I had been considering an ION. Now I'm not sure what I'll get but perhaps a full low power athlon x2 setup will do it for me.
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June 9, 2009 7:59:13 PM

If CUDA can accelerate video with all formats included trough CoreAVC codec that excellent news. I was and still am an ATI fan, but if this works I plan my next laptop to be with nVidia chipset :) .
Only if there some ultra portable 12.1 inch with 9300 chipset somewhere.
Also this will be grate for Atom CPU, who lack grunt for some video playback. Thumbs UP for nVidia and Core AVC for this one :) 
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June 9, 2009 8:01:20 PM

sorry for typing mistakes, I was writhing this on very small keyboard:) 
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June 9, 2009 8:37:28 PM

Hasn't the 9300 been out for quite awhile. Is the 9300 consider part of the ION platform? I thought ION meant 9400+Atom. Zotac specifies the 9300 on the other motherboard but doesn't list what chipset is used on the Ion boards. It just states a "NVidia ION graphics processor" I think Adobe and NVidia are working on a CUDA version of Flash, that would help Hulu's performance.
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June 9, 2009 8:44:26 PM

It's the same chipset as the 9300/9400, but it's actually clocked *slower* than the 9300. Same silicon, different clock rates.
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June 9, 2009 11:59:58 PM

what a great article! awesome analysis. imo, the ION platform is simply awe-inspiring when you look at its size and what it can do with it, and its lower power requirements.

on the other hand, is anybody else getting tired of small, attractive, yet underpowered mobile solutions?
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June 10, 2009 12:51:59 AM

Awsome
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1
June 10, 2009 4:10:42 AM

Nice article Chris, but do not be scared to put "Atom platforms are crap when it comes to the HTPC" at the beginning of the article. I do not mind a spoiler summary.
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June 10, 2009 4:29:00 AM

mrubermonkeyNice article Chris, but do not be scared to put "Atom platforms are crap when it comes to the HTPC" at the beginning of the article. I do not mind a spoiler summary.


Aw, come on now. I'd rather belabor the point with tests and stuff :) 
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June 10, 2009 9:58:01 AM

cangeliniSo it looks like the $15 version of the software supports what you're talking about. I'll look into it! Thanks for the tip,Chris


the 9300 gpu isn't listed as supported on their site though.

Anyways I wish they would make it easier to make systems but they are so piracy scared that setting up a system for the normal use is a big hassle these days if you want something that supports the right audio/video options.

Another thing I wonder about is that they want more and more HDMI plugs on the TV but it's more the HDMI in's on the recievers that are needed, only need 1 in on the TV from the reciever. Unless you want fancy video and cruddy sound (from internal tv speakers)
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June 10, 2009 5:56:52 PM

We've been qualifying the Ion platform for use in computers we build where I work, and we've seen the Hulu issue here as well. Oddly, some other Flash-based video sites are fine: many HD trailers we found, for example, played just fine in full-screen mode. It seems not to be a problem with the Ion/Atom, or with Flash player, but with the specific codec that Hulu uses. I'm not sure what it is, but they appear to have selected one that isn't aided by nVidia's onboard video processing. If Flash Player adds GPU support for that codec, or if Hulu were to use a different codec, all might be remedied. It is an unfortunate situation, but one which I have hopes might be corrected at some point.
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June 10, 2009 6:02:47 PM

WilliamMGeorgeWe've been qualifying the Ion platform for use in computers we build where I work, and we've seen the Hulu issue here as well. Oddly, some other Flash-based video sites are fine: many HD trailers we found, for example, played just fine in full-screen mode. It seems not to be a problem with the Ion/Atom, or with Flash player, but with the specific codec that Hulu uses. I'm not sure what it is, but they appear to have selected one that isn't aided by nVidia's onboard video processing. If Flash Player adds GPU support for that codec, or if Hulu were to use a different codec, all might be remedied. It is an unfortunate situation, but one which I have hopes might be corrected at some point.


William--which Flash sites did you find that behaved better? I'm curious and down to do additional testing. Thanks for your input.

Chris
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June 10, 2009 6:21:25 PM

cangeliniwhich Flash sites did you find that behaved better?


There were a couple, but the one I remember was the trailer site for the next Harry Potter: http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/harrypotterandthehalf...

I've also seen a recent press release from Adobe and nVidia that might be a good step in this arena: http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressreleases...

We've got an Ion testbed system up and running right now, so feel free to email me directly if you need any assistance or duplicate testing done for your review work on this platform: william@pugetsystems.com
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Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
June 10, 2009 6:38:44 PM

It's hard to imagine that Hulu and Netflix won't update their players to the latest GPU accelerated versions Flash and Silverlight (3) when they're released, hopefully this year...
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June 10, 2009 7:10:41 PM

It seems that an LGA775 Geforce 9300 motherboard paired with an E5200 would be a much more powerful little PC for less money. Since the 5200 is so efficient, it shouldn't produce that much more noise or heat. You could even undervolt and underclock it and it would still be better than the Atom and maybe just as efficient.
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Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
June 12, 2009 12:36:04 AM

The reason why your hulu fullscreen playback was terrible was due to Flash's scaling using processor power. Hulu makes my Pentium M 1.7gHz choke. The fix is to right click on the movie and set the quality to low. Bingo bango, it might not "look" as good, as the pixels are now square and not scaled nicely, but it is watchable and smooth.
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