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ATI AVIVO and 1080p - A sad, sad story! (Help!)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 19, 2009 10:53:31 PM

Hey guys 'n gals!

I've been a long time reader of Tom's hardware, but now I'm facing a problem I just can't seem to solve on my own, nor with existing posts..

Recently, I bought a nice 40" LCD TV (Samsung L40A 856). To be able to use it to the fullest, I decided to build a mediacenter/downloadcenter/server to use with it.

Here's the specs:
HTPC: ASUS P2-M3A3200 (HD3450 was installed, but I took it out, as it has an onboard HD3200 which does the job)
CPU: AMD ATHLON X2 5050E
RAM: CORSAIR 2X 1GB PC2-6400 TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX (4-4-4-12)


HD: WD HDD 1TB 32MB GREEN
Bluray: LG GGC-H20LRB

A pretty typical low-budget mediacenter I'd say.

On that, I installed Windows Vista Enterprise edition, and installed all updates and service pack.

To be able to play all video formats, I installed the Combined Community Codec pack. (CCCP)
I'm using the latest ATI Catalyst control center (9.6).
The TV is connected to the onboard HDMI-out.

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On to the problem!

One of the things I want it to do, is play video - Xvid, DVD, 720p, 1080p and the bluray disks.
Up to 720p, everything runs like a charm, although I'm noticing an 80% (!!) cpu load on 720p.
If I'm not mistaken, the ATI avivo chipset should do most of the computing, taking nearly all the load off the CPU.

When I try to run 1080p, the video plays at around 50% of the normal speed, and a lot of frames are dropped. Audio runs out of sync etc. Turns out my CPU is 100% used!

I've done some research and found out it might have to do with codecs. Thus, I tried a powerdvd 7 codec (HD compatible). Although it ran a little better, it was still no good.

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The question: How on earth can I make this work!?
Subquestions: Am I doing something wrong? Can't this system run HD?

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Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and perhaps even help me!
July 19, 2009 11:00:09 PM

have you tried putting the 3450 back in? I would try that first. I too thought that the onboard was meant to handle 1080p.
July 19, 2009 11:02:48 PM

Yes, I have. It doesn't make any difference. I tried that using the DVI to HDMI converter which came with my desktop's HD4890. There wasn't one included with the HTPC (which kind-of tells me that we're supposed to use the onboard HDMI..).

Also, I prefer to keep it out, to lower the power consumption (11w, without the hd3450 it sucks ~50w). The pc doubles as download center for my fibre internet.
Related resources
July 19, 2009 11:20:07 PM

do you have cool and quiet enabled in the BIOS?
July 19, 2009 11:22:19 PM

the last resort said:
do you have cool and quiet enabled in the BIOS?


Yes, I have. One of the first problems I ran into was that the HDMI didn't output anything. After a lot of tinkering, it turned out I had a feature disabled in the BIOS.

After that, I checked everything the BIOS had to offer and enabled it all.

I've also installed ATI's Cool'n quiet application - but it doesn't seem to do anything. A strange app it is. It just gives me a monitor. The CPU fan always makes a noise, even when it's not hot. That's another issue though. Is it related to the AVIVO chipset?

EDIT: Thanks for the replies by the way, gonna sleep now (1:20 AM here!), will check back tomorrow!
July 19, 2009 11:45:44 PM

Actually its not really the AVIVO, its the UVD2 that you should be worrying about.

The UVD2 is the Universal Video Decoder that ATI uses (my 4870 has one) and should be pulling the load off the CPU.

If your CPU is at 100% load it sounds like something is not working as it should.

I would try reinstalling the drivers for it completely.
July 20, 2009 2:12:40 AM

Well I never used or liked PowerDVD, but only PDVD 8 and on can fully utilize UVD. I use MPC-HC to play my media files, but unfortunately you can't play a disk directly with this program.

There were only certain drivers that worked correcltlywith UVD and AVIVO. For my HD 3650 the only drivers that actaully worked were the Catalyst 8.4 drivers.

This is a great site for DXVA tips and tricks
nunnally.ahmygoddess.net/watching-h264-videos-using-dxva/
July 20, 2009 10:31:08 AM

Okay, looks like I was misinformed. I'm going to have to read up on the UVD part, as I hadn't heard of it prior.

I'll try a newer version of the Pdvd codec as well.

Oh, and I already tried driver reinstalls - ofcourse. :) 

Does anyone happen to have a link to the catalyst 8.4 drivers? They're too old to be easy to find.
July 20, 2009 10:47:08 AM

im guessing its the onboard video thats the problem homie.

i have pretty much the exact same setup, except i use a 4670. it runs flawlessly.
July 20, 2009 10:48:40 AM

neon neophyte said:
im guessing its the onboard video thats the problem homie.

i have pretty much the exact same setup, except i use a 4670. it runs flawlessly.


That's interesting. Did you add a 4670 to a HTPC setup? What drivers and codecs do you use? Finally, what is your CPU load during playback of average 720p .mkv files and 1080p ones?
July 20, 2009 10:54:52 AM

i havent touched my mediapc in awhile, let me wake up, power it on and run some tests.
July 20, 2009 11:20:09 AM

ok, just fired up "2001.A.Space.Odyssey.1968.1080p.HDDVD.DTS.x264-hV.mkv"

its running at between 45-55% cpu usage. (should also point out, thats between both cores, spread out. not 100 percent on 1 core.)
July 20, 2009 11:50:49 AM

I see. Well, that's what I'm supposed to be getting as well..

Can you tell me some more on the drivers and codecs you use? Perhaps my problem lies there.

I still think the onboard card should be able to do it, so I'd like to eliminate that first, before installing another GFX card.
July 20, 2009 4:05:10 PM

Also, for those that know a lot about codecs and containers - what if my 1080p movies are h264 instead of x264, what would the influence on HW support be?

EDIT: Sorry for the double post, forgot to edit my previous post!

I just read up on UVD, the onboard HD3200 should have UVD2... which means it should run like a charm without a high cpu load!
July 20, 2009 8:17:59 PM

for some reason this thread dissappeared quickly off the front page. just went digging around in my email.

um, newest ati drivers, tho they werent before. windows7.7100.x64. coreavc or something i think. vlc. 1.0.0 now, tho it wasnt before.
July 20, 2009 11:32:11 PM

The tutorial I linked should cover playing H.264 files and has the Catalyst drivers.
July 21, 2009 1:02:37 AM

Have you possibly tried Omega drievrs? They are third party enhanced ATI and nVidia drives but supposively are pretty good. A friend of mine has a old AGP system and they ahd support with the newest drivers for AGP in them.

Every ATI card from the HD3K and up has UVD2.
July 21, 2009 1:43:26 PM

Thanks guys, I'm going to give the tutorial a try. If that doesn't work, I'll try the Omega drivers. I used to have those installed, but as of late, reverted back to the regular catalyst drivers.
July 22, 2009 7:11:12 PM

Turns out that above guide, as well as UVD (and UVD2) is support for h.264.

The files I've got are x264 encoded. Can that be hardware supported at all?
July 22, 2009 7:12:25 PM

must be. that mkv file i played was x264.
July 23, 2009 12:36:45 AM

I see. Can you tell me exactly what codec you're using? Perhaps my MPC settings are just broken

I tried following the guide I was given, but my MPC-HC isn't the same one the guide uses, so I couldn't select those options..

I've tried switching some codecs around again, and I got it to run at 22fps (close to being good), but that pulled 100% cpu load still (pdvd codec).

Halp!

EDIT:

I downloaded the same MPC-HC as the guide states and was able to use the same configuration. What do you know, it's much better already!!

Played a few 1080p movies (x264). Cpu load never got above 60% (mostly around 30%).
It played at 24 fps, which is much better than my previous record (22).

A problem that does still occur is that I've got Jitter (10~20) and a sync offset ranging -50 to +50. What could cause this?

So far, it's a huge improvement over what I had, so thanks a lot for all the help!
January 1, 2010 8:33:29 AM

I came across the exact same problem in decembre 2009 with a Dell Zino PC.
It has a very weak single core AMD CPU but a good ATI Mobility Radeon 4330 GPU, so it should be able to decode HD .mkv using the GPU and the Avivo drivers.
It took me 2 days roaming the web to find the solution : Media Filters Pack 4.0.
Before that filter pack I tried all sort of settings using both Shark007 and CCCP codec pack, trying to activate GPU hardware decoding, but it has been a miserable failure.
Media Filters Pack 4.0 has an option "hardware accelaration" when you install it, that you have to check. the coolest thing is that you can read HD .mkv in Media Center, you don't have to use another player like MPC.
January 1, 2010 2:04:04 PM

Thanks! I'll be sure to try it out. Another thing I found that seems to work is Arcsoft Total Media Theatre 3. It's not free though, so I'd prefer using something else.
January 1, 2010 8:59:38 PM

did you install amd's dual core optimizer?
!