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Thanks to the integrated HD3000-class graphics unit, the 780G and 780V chipsets enjoy complete HD video decoding support, in the form of ATI's Universal Video Decoder (UVD). As a result, CPU load is greatly reduced when playing back HD-video content such as HD-DVDs, Blu-ray discs, HDTV or recorded HD content.
Since the on-board graphics unit comes with hardware decoding support for MPEG-2, H.264 and VC-1, a separate add-in card is no longer required to enjoy hardware video acceleration for these codecs. All that's left for the CPU to do is to decode the HDCP copy protection and the audio stream. On the previous 690G chipset, even a brawny Athlon 64 X2 6400 CPU was unable to provide smooth HD-video playback. The new 780G chipset, on the other hand, has no trouble with this task, even when paired with a comparatively anemic AMD Sempron 63 3200+.
With its 128 kB L2 cache and 1.80 GHz clock speed, the Sempron 64 3200+ is too slow for Windows Vista. A full three minutes pass before the system has completed the start-up process and the CPU load falls below 10%. Still, 1080p Full-HD playback at a resolution of 1920x1080 doesn't pose any problem whatsoever for the CPU when running PowerDVD 7.3. We played back the James Bond movie Casino Royale from a Blu-Ray disc on an LG GCC-H20L drive. We measured the average CPU load of the Sempron 64 3200+ to be 63.13% during playback, with short peaks reaching up to 90%.
Smooth and stutter-free playback is no longer possible with an even slower processor, such as an AMD Sempron 64 3000+ running at 1.60 GHz. Some of the scenes created a CPU load of 100%, causing the system to drop frames - due to the low performance of the Sempron 3000+, the 200 MHz clock-speed difference has a huge impact. Our conclusion is that the Sempron 3200+ marks the lower limit for smooth Blu-ray playback.
However, if you only want to play back HD content you have previously recorded from sources such as satellite or cable, AMD's Sempron 64 3000+ is sufficient, since the CPU doesn't have to deal with encryption.