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Question about HD video playback and h264 hardware decoding

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 14, 2009 8:05:42 PM

Hello all,

I have spend some time to try to understand how the H264 hardware decoding support in my ATI card and getting so confused. I wish someone can give me some clues.

First of all, here is my system:

Proc : AMD X2 5000+
Mobo : Gigabyte GA-MA78GM
RAM : 6Gb ram
OS : Windows Vista 64bit
Video Card: Asus ATI HD3450 256Mb DDR CrossFire enabled with the onboard HD3200 card (using the onboard hdmi port to output to my Onkyo receiver)
Latest Driver from ATI

So, here is my question

1. When I play a video, let say it use H264 format, how can I activate the hardware support from my video card to decode the video? When ATI say it support H264 hardware acceleration, what is that really mean? And how can I (as a end user just want to play some video in my machine) take advantage of it? Is that a ATI driver problem, or I need to get a codec pack which know how to take advantage of the hardware? Or I need a correct player?

2. If the only way I can take advantage from the hardware decoder is using/buying a codec which support my hardware, so which codec should I bought for my system? I have a hard time to decode 1080p H264 mkv file using my existing specification. My CPU run almost 90% to 100% all the time and the video is not smooth. I check the filter what I use for the video stream and find out that it is using ffdshow. I assume ffdshow did not support my ATI card hardware acceleration.

3. Most of the codec pack I can download from the web (etc CCCP) contains ffdshow, but is there any codec which can take advantage of the hardware? I heard about people using something call dxva, and it seems it can take advantage my ATI hardware for some of the video I have. What is that dxva related to other codec? How come I cannot find codec directly from ATI which can take advantage their own hardware?

4. I heard about the term EVR, EVR custom.... and in the classic media player, under playback->output, there is a DirectShow Video ption which I can choose different direct show video mode? Etc Old Renderer, VMR7, VMR9, Haalis Video Render, EVR. What are those things? Why I need to choose those thing?


5. Did my setup with CrossFire enable help to play Hi-Def video?


I just cannot beleive why playing a movies become so complicated. What I want to do is to play a Hi-Def movie file in my computer. Any help will be appreciate. Thanks for advance!
January 16, 2009 1:15:40 AM

UP! Same question for Saphire 4850 under Vista
MPCVideoDec.ax not really help processor with kmp, and its worst with MPC-HD... really dont know what to do... my CPU rush a lot to play these video and the GPU are at 0% used...
March 27, 2009 6:48:47 AM

Hello nachochip & SilentBob999.

I have no answers or skills to your questions. However, since it has been over two months without any answers I will offer what I do.

Your machine specs look great. My advice is to go buy a very expensive DVD player. It will be infinitely easier than getting video on a computer to work.

Of course, I have not taken my own advice so I will share my experiences here with you.


It looks like you have a good idea what a codec is so I'll start with ffdshow. Ffdshow is the most used codec out there. By default it handles just about every media type. The default settings are so complete that many people who know nothing about video players don't even know they're using it. Ffdshow also has a million little tweaks in its 'Settings'. I don't know anything about any of them :sarcastic: 

Ffdshow is made by a group of religious nutters that believe, to the death, that ffdshow is the bestest codec ever in the history of the universe. Ffdshow can not use any kind of hardware other than the CPU. Not ATI, not NVidia, not any hardware of any kind. Ever. This codec 'walks on water' via the CPU and the nutters will spam your pets if you ever suggest otherwise.

Both ATI and NVidia do NOT make ANY codecs for their own products that they design and build. None. Don't buy any video player software from them because you will still have to get the codec somewhere else. To use the "hardware acceleration" features will require a codec written to specifically use the "hardware acceleration" features. I do not know of any that are free, and I've looked for 5 years. However, please remember I may not know what I'm talking about. :( 

There are codecs written by companies for profit that use "hardware acceleration" features. Maybe 5 companies total. I do not know if one is better than another. When I used my old Nvidia "hardware acceleration" features, I used the CyberLink H.264/AVC Decoder. When I got my new ATI, I just stuck with it. Please realize, that the last generation of Nvidia "hardware acceleration" features was a total lie and never did any of the last generation's cards actually do anything special for video. (see paragraph 1)

The CyberLink H.264/AVC Decoder costs money and sometimes comes in a new DVD box. DXVA is a set of instructions for a codec to use to access the "hardware acceleration" features. My CyberLink decoders that have the option for me to chose are all configured to use the "hardware acceleration" features.

I use many brands of players including 'Zoom Player Home MAX v6.00' and 'BS.Player PRO' and 'SMPlayer' and many more. All have allowed me to choose the CyberLink decoder codec and enable the "hardware acceleration" features by choosing the DXVA option. Currently I do not know how to verify if the "hardware acceleration" features are actually working or not. A program called RivaTuner was able to tell me if the "hardware acceleration" features went off and on in the past.

OK, so next are the Video Render choices. I can't give ya anything on this topic. My Zoom Player shows some 'Hints' but it's over my head. VMR7 is old. VMR9 is directx 9. EVR is the newest but only works on Vista. And there's some stuff about Overlays and Harware Color controls. :pt1cable: 

With this dangerous amount of knowledge I watch about 30-40 hrs a week. I try to get the 264 stuff and put my faith in the DXVA option. And I use maybe 10 different players because I don't know how to use any of them completely :lol:  And I get by. :hello: 

Now Smallville's on so I got go :hello: 

Cheers
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March 27, 2009 8:45:42 PM

I come back just to tell that finally I was able to make MPCVideoDec.ax work very well... its a renderer. a little but tweaky to make im render every movie. Sometime its absolutly necessary to assign this render manually via graphedit and then again its not enouph for all movie. I use KMPlayer that is a really great media player with built codec and renderer for everything, you have to choose in wich occasion you will use an external renderer, but sometime its detect the wrong codec for a movie and the only way to know that its to check the files info inside kmp itself.

MPCVideoDec.ax is a part of mplayerc_homecinema that you can find easily. registrer this file is enouph to make it work in some case.

In all case, I'm not affraid to try everything and by the end I'm not sure how these thing I have done is necessary. So if you want an easy way to make it work I am not able to tell you. With all these container format, codec and everything that exist right now...
November 7, 2009 6:35:30 AM

Dear SilentBob999,
I have a Graphics card which claims that it has an inbuilt h.264 hardware decoder, when i test a h.264 video by enabling the hardware acceleration in Power DVD-8 the hardware accelerator is getting disabled automatically in the Power DVD .
The CPU is also around 35% for 1080p h.264 video on 3GHz dual core PC. Pls tell me how to enable hardware acceleration in PowerDVD by using graphedit, i never used graphedit, pls give me steps if possible..

Thanks in advance
!