Day one of Computex has already been quite eventful; we've seen yet another working R520 demo performing some impressive H.264 GPU acceleration, as well as motherboards based on NVIDIA's new C51G. All that and much more in this Computex article...

Be sure to read our Early Bird Computex Coverage as well as our Introduction to ATI's new CrossFire Multi-GPU Technology.

ATI Demos R520, Accelerates H.264 Decoding

ATI's R520 has made its second appearance in the past couple of weeks, this time behind not-so-closed doors at ATI's suite in the Hyatt hotel.

This time around however, the demo wasn't of a 3D game; rather, an even more unique application for ATI's new GPU - H.264 decoding.

The H.264 specification is particularly important as it will be the predominant encoding/decoding standard for both blu-ray and HD-DVD. Being able to accelerate H.264 encoding, decoding and transcoding will soon be the new focus of system performance. If you've played around with either encoding H.264 content or playing back the limited amount of H.264 content currently available, you know that the overall system demands for anything dealing with H.264 are quite high.

ATI is addressing one part of the problem by offering GPU-accelerated H.264 decoding with the R520. The demo was conducted on 25Mbps HD footage recorded using a HD video camera and played back on a Pentium 4 3.6GHz system (Hyper Threading enabled) with a R520 graphics card.

CPU utilization without the GPU acceleration enabled was stated to be between 90% - 95%, but when GPU accelerated H.264 decode was enabled, the CPU utilization dropped to around 33%. We witnessed the GPU-accelerated playback first hand and were quite impressed.

ATI has committed to us that they would have a H.264 player available by the end of this year that would offer this level of acceleration when paired with a R520 GPU. ATI said that they were looking into bringing the acceleration to older GPUs, but they would not say anything beyond that.

Obviously, the story of the day happens to be ATI's CrossFire multi-GPU solution, and ATI had some CrossFire demos running in their suite as well.

The showing of CrossFire demos at Computex was actually a bit disappointing, but that can be attributed to the fact that a very limited number of manufacturers had reference boards and the drivers are still far from final. That being said, our benchmarking time with the CrossFire reference board proved to be quite uneventful in the sense that we encountered no stability issues with the platform.

Just like all of the other chipset makers, ATI had a wall of motherboards based on ATI chipsets at their suite:

Most of the solutions were older Radeon Xpress 200 based products and not CrossFire motherboards. Given that no manufacturer has a fully working CrossFire solution (most only work in 2D), we weren't too surprised.

NVIDIA - Quiet on G70, C51G Sightings
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  • ArneBjarne - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • Reflex - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    #15 - Nope, the cards I mention have superior output to DD, however they will pass on DD content just fine to a reciever in digital mode if your source is encoded. DD is a lower end standard, its compression and no quality sound card will use lossy compression on audio by default.

    If quality sound is important to you, you can simply run 3 analog lines to a reciever and have a better sound experience than Soundstorm from virtually any modern card. And the ones I reccomended will give you a superior sound experience to Soundstorm for a reasonable price.

    Granted, running a single cable is nice and all, but saving five minutes of time is not worth degraded sound to anyone who cares about audio quality and accuracy.
    Reply
  • missleman - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Plenty of sound cards that offer dolby digital live output? Where are you looking? None of the ones you suggested offer that. Too many people just completly fail to realize the importance of DD encoding and how it fits perfectly in a home theater setting. There is NO replacement. PCM is not good enough.

    #2 and 3,

    Go find me a SSD that costs $50 empty. Found one yet?
    Ok, lets make it "easier"- find me a SSD that has a BIOS chip on it, or is connected over a SATA/PATA/SCSI so it is bootable. (The only ones I've seen that even qualify are external SCSI ones that are like upwards of $10,000- now granted it's been a long long time since I've looked, but I havn't found any that would qualify to fit in a segment that a high end home user would be able to afford). Considering the cheapest SSD cards i've seen are upwards of $500 empty, one could populate the $50 card with 4 Gig for the same cost as, say the rocket drive...empty, which cannot be booted. a $50 MSRP puts the card in the "affordable segment" for the first time. 4 Gig is plenty for the OS + some more frequently used apps. Heck with 2 of those I could remove the hard drive in my HTPC and have enough room for everything plus some room to record tv shoes (moving anything I want to save to a remote data server.) Which would REALLY make my HTPC silent, as the HD is the only thing you can hear right now, the one slow spinning(5 volted) fan makes virtually no noise.
    Reply
  • Reflex - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    #8 - There are plenty of sound cards with far superior sound quality to the SoundStorm without the Creative name on them. On the cheap you can get a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz, which is still a top notch sound solution. For a bit more money you can pick up an M-Audio Revolution 7.1, which simply has no equal in the consumer audio market.

    No reason to cry over spilt milk. SS was great for an integrated solution, but it didn't compete with stand alone solutions at all.
    Reply
  • shaw - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Stability is just one reboot away. Reply
  • WooDaddy - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Tell me that Iwill SFF isn't sweet?! Dual CPU with SLI in a SFF case? Wow...

    I still like my slow Mac mini though :)

    CONVERT TO YOUR TRUE LEADER (Steve Jobs) OR FACE MORE BLUE SCREENS OF DEATH!!!
    Reply
  • semo - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    porkster, amd does not have enough market share to command form factor trends. btx was intel's brainchild but it is consumers and case and mobo manufacturers that are holding back the btx take up. Reply
  • ImJacksAmygdala - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    #8 Don't worry now that Nvidia has abandoned Sound Storm I can now consider the ATI Crossfire paired with the HDA Digital XMystique 7.1 sound card that has Dolby Live. This way I can get a dual R520 system with H.264 GPU acceleration and surround sound in games using a single digital coax to my Onkyo HT-S770.

    Reply
  • porkster - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    I wanted BTX when I purchased my latest system, but there were no one selling them or making the boards witht he form factor.

    I'm sick of AMD keeping the market behind.

    .
    Reply
  • yacoub - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Did you have a chance to lament to NVidia execs the loss of SoundStorm2 that was intially spec'd for NForce4?

    I still enjoy the SoundStorm digital coax output on my NForce2 Deluxe board to my Z-680s. I loathe the thought of ever having to buy a Creative Labs soundcard again so I will have to hunt down a board with decent onboard sound, hoping to find one at least as good as SoundStorm was. =\
    Reply

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