Nvidia's PureVideo promises home theater video quality for the PC

San Jose (CA) - Nvidia today announced the availability of PureVideo. The technology is designed to accelerate MPEG 2 and high-definition content on computer systems equipped with an Nvidia graphics card carrying a GeForce 6-series processor.

The company has been talking about PureVideo for quite a while now, since the introduction of the GeForce 6800 back in April of this year, to be exact. However the enabling software was missing so far. Now, Nvidia has the driver package in place and promises to take video quality on the PC to the next level.

PureVideo is based on a programmable video processing engine integrated in GeForce 6-series graphics processors. According to Nvidia, the feature "eliminates the need for separate hardware or chipsets and takes the load off the PC's multi-purpose CPU to deliver to consumers, high-quality video playback at resolutions up to 720p and 1080i".

Key features of PureVideo include a dedicated 16-way vector processor that enables HD MPEG2 hardware acceleration while taking processing load off the CPU. The technology also is able to accelerate Microsoft's WMV and HD WMV. PureVideo allows real-time video recording, spatial and temporal adaptive de-interlacing from satellite, cable and DVD feeds, 3:2 pull-down correction and "bad edit" correction, the latter however only for 6800 and 6600 models. Additional functions include "flicker-free" multi-stream scaling, and display Gamma correction.

"Over the last couple of years consumers have started demanding smooth, high-quality DVD playback and stutter-free, high-def viewing on their PC," said Derek Perez, spokesman for Nvidia. "Consumers want the same visual quality whether using a PC or a CE device. So in order to keep with the demands of the CE market, we developed PureVideo and included features like 3:2 pull-down correction, video HD playback, progressive scan line de-interlacing, and more."

To be able to use the PureVideo feature, an updated Forceware driver as well as Nvidia's DVD decoder and supporting applications such as the Windows Media Player 10. According to Perez, Microsoft's DirectX Video Acceleration API "already exists for playback acceleration on the GeForce 6-GPUs. "In addition, many applications are built to accept our DVD Decoder as part of its architecture and receive the benefits that the DVD Decoder enables," Perez said.

The diver itself is offered as a free download, Nvidia's DVD Decoder however has to be purchased for $20.

Initially supported with the GeForce 6800 (NV40), PureVideo capabilities in Vidia's processors were improved over time. For example, the 6800 does not offer hardware acceleration of media played in Windows Media Player 9, but requires the CPU to carry 100 percent of the load instead. Perez said that Nvidia "will look for more ways to improve CPU utilization" over the life span of the product. However, "every GeForce 6 GPU, including the original 6800 Ultra comes with spatial-temporal de-interlacing, 3:2 pulldown correction, 3:2 bad edit correction, 4x5 scaling, extended color support, MPEG-2 and MPEG-2 HD hardware decode acceleration," he said.

The PCIe version of the 6800 (NV43) and "all 6600's" received added hardware decode acceleration of WMV - HD content, according to Perez.

Nvidia considers Microsoft's heavily pushed entertainment PC platform as one of the main drivers for PureVideo: "It plays a huge role. We made PureVideo due to a large part of the Media Center momentum that Microsoft is promoting," Perez said. "They are trying to raise the bar of Video on the PC, and we aligned ourselves to fit their goals as well. In fact, in recent analyst reports, an estimated 60 million households expected to embrace high-definition devices by 2008."

The Forceware driver enabling PureVideo can be downloaded from Nvidia's Nzone website.

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