A number of our past Blu-ray comparisons relied on a rip from Casino Royale to measure performance. And while that benchmark technique will indeed yield repeatable CPU utilization numbers, it fails to take into account decryption of the copy protection you’d find in playing back a movie from disc, which actually applies a significant processing load.
Having worked with Intel to create a more representative testing environment, we loaded up the latest version of PowerDVD 8 on each of our test beds and ran 100 seconds of playback from Resident Evil: Extinction using Microsoft’s Perfmon.exe to measure average utilization.
Ironically, even after updating to the latest 0079 BIOS and installing the 18.104.22.1684 driver set, our Intel platform would not function with hardware-accelerated decoding turned on—hence the near-60% utilization representative of an unassisted Core 2 Duo E7200.
Our 790GX system displayed even more bizarre behavior, playing through the movie’s trailers and then freezing up with a green screen once the movie actually began. Turning Avivo acceleration off in PowerDVD’s control panel fixed this issue, so that 70% CPU score is representative of AMD’s Athlon 64 X2 cranking on an H.264 Blu-ray movie unassisted as well. We’re working with both AMD and Intel to try to solve these strange behaviors and will update the story once we can test Blu-ray playback at the utilization levels we’d expect to see from either hardware-accelerated chipset.
Meanwhile, Nvidia’s GeForce 9300 works as advertised, dipping under 20% while playing back Chapter 8 of Resident Evil.