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Thread: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

  1. #1
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    Question Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    Hi there,

    I've setup a EEEBox 1501P exclusively to work as a Media Center.

    So i've picked up Ubuntu 11.04 x64, and Boxee x64 (latest), and installed the nVIDIA drivers directly from site.

    The problem is that video playback at 720p is a bit sloppy! I've tried on VLC player for example, and the CPU cores are at 10%. But when i use Boxee, one core gets stuck at 100%, and the others at 10%.

    So this means that currently, boxee, cannot handle hardware acceleration in x86_64 Linux!

    My question is:
    - What software can I use to set-up my Ubuntu-based Media Center?

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
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    Re: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    VLC does not make a media centre IMO.

    VLC has h/w decode presentation support thru' VA-API. This is not compiled into the stock VLC.

    No comment on Boxee..

    XBMC is the best media centre app...& it supports VDPAU (Nvidia purevideo API) & VA-API.

    The VA-API is a GPU independent API but is not as capable as VDPAU directly.
    VDPAU can only be used with nvidia GPU h/w. GT220 or better recommended.

    XBMC, MythTV & mplayer support VDPAU directly.

  3. #3
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    Unhappy Re: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    Thanks for the Reply.

    Not only i prefer Boxee, but also I've concluded that the entire hardware runs faster on Windows 7 than on 11.04...

    It seems that the drivers supporting ION 2 chipsets under x86_64 Ubuntu Linux are sloppy.

    Even with "Composite" disabled on xorg.conf, the performance boosts, but it isn't like Win7 running on this HW.
    Also, the IR Remote Controller from this Asus EEE Box EB1501P does not work as expected. Not with VLC, boxee, or XBMC.

    I'd love to run Linux on my EEEBox, but right now i'm stuck to a clean Win7 install, with Boxee and a Firewall.

    Maybe sometime later it the IR Remote is supported on Linux. I'll make the change then.

    Oh, and just FTR, yes, VLC and XBMC can hardware-decode x264 perfectly on Ubuntu x64.

    Thanks,
    Phk

  4. #4
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    Re: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    Fair enough.
    Do what you have to make it work..

    AFAIK VLC does not support h/w video decode (XvBA, VDPAU, Intel?) without using VA-API thru' a custom build or ppa.

    Your cpu utilisation figures could suggest CPU decode.
    Did you configure XBMC to use VDPAU ?
    You run this to check driver vdpau fn:
    vdpauinfo

    A middle range core2-duo can decode broadcast h264 1080 on 50% (of both cores).

    Composite/compiz etc on or off makes no difference to current VDPAU (from my expts).
    Last edited by BicyclerBoy; June 9th, 2011 at 11:06 AM. Reason: spelling err

  5. #5
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    Re: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    Quote Originally Posted by BicyclerBoy View Post
    Fair enough.
    Do what you have to make it work..
    Exactly! Altough I prefer Linux over Win7, if for example I'm talking about a gaming computer, i most certainly will install Windows 7. What mean here is: I totaly agree with your sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by BicyclerBoy View Post
    AFAIK VLC does not support h/w video decode (XvBA, VDPAU, Intel?) without using VA-API thru' a custom build or ppa.
    Yes it can.
    Just go to Option and enable "Hardware Decoding Experimental" and you'll see all cores dropping do 10% (in my case)

    Quote Originally Posted by BicyclerBoy View Post
    Did you configure XBMC to use VDPAU ?
    You run this to check driver vdpau fn:
    vdpauinfo
    Composite/compiz etc on or off makes no difference to current VDPAU (from my expts).
    Well, yes, XBMC automatically does VDPAU and so the video decoding is hardware and smooth.

    About the Composite, here's the strange behaviour:
    Code:
    - Turn ON composite on xOrg.conf
    - Login to X
    - Open gnome-system-monitor and leave it open
    - Enter Boxee (no VDPAU support)
    - Play 720p x264 for a minute
    - Exit Boxee
    RESULT: Video is Sloppy. On a Quad-Core, 1 core was 100%, other were asleep


    Now the phenomenom:
    Code:
    - Turn OFF composite on xOrg.conf
    - Login to X
    - Open gnome-system-monitor and leave it open
    - Enter Boxee (no VDPAU support)
    - Play 720p x264 for a minute
    - Exit Boxee
    RESULT: Video is good, almost like HW decoding. On a Quad-Core, all cores are in use, about 40% each.


    :: So it seems that somehow when Composite is enabled, Multi-threading is affected! This IS weird, but it could prove why games run 200% faster if you disable this.
    Ideas?

  6. #6
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    Re: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    I did not know VLC had progressed that far with h/w decode support..
    Sorry but 10% of 4 cores on an i5/i7 processor is not h/w decode..I guess it should be 1-2%.

    VDPAU is not the same as openGL performance (games).
    Video decode is done in bit stream processor (part of GPU). This is either fast enough & with the correct capabilities or it just does not work.
    Post decode filters run in the shaders (de-interlace etc).
    Historically composite & VDPAU did not work together.

    Maybe the threading is the key..have no idea what composite has to do with that.

  7. #7
    beew is offline I Ubuntu, Therefore, I Am
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    Re: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    Quote Originally Posted by BicyclerBoy View Post

    XBMC, MythTV & mplayer support VDPAU directly.

    Which version of mplayer? I am surprised to find that mplayer from the often recommended MOTU ppa apparently doesn't work with vdpau.

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1778720

  8. #8
    beew is offline I Ubuntu, Therefore, I Am
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    Re: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    VLC from this ppa https://launchpad.net/~ed10vi86/+archive/ppa sort of works with VDPAU through VAAPI, performance is better than the stock VLC but still way worse than mplayer (version with VDPAU support) and XBMC in terms of cpu usage.

  9. #9
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    Re: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    Quote Originally Posted by beew View Post
    VLC from this ppa https://launchpad.net/~ed10vi86/+archive/ppa sort of works with VDPAU through VAAPI, performance is better than the stock VLC but still way worse than mplayer (version with VDPAU support) and XBMC in terms of cpu usage.
    That PPA doesn't have the necessary stuff for va-api on vdpau. I've put the necessary stuff in my ppa, but no one with an nvidia card ever let me know if it works: https://launchpad.net/~dtl131/+archive/catalysthacks
    I have managed to make ati/xvba work in vlc, though I have to repackage libva because the dependencies conflict with the stock libva.
    I was reading a book about Genghis Khan when I made my account and I empathized with aspects of his life. It doesn't mean I want to kill everyone. You're taking the interweb too seriously. I'm trying to help you, seriously. Use the eye test.

  10. #10
    beew is offline I Ubuntu, Therefore, I Am
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    Re: Mediacenter with nVIDIA h264 Hardware Decoding

    Quote Originally Posted by Temüjin View Post
    That PPA doesn't have the necessary stuff for va-api on vdpau. I've put the necessary stuff in my ppa, but no one with an nvidia card ever let me know if it works: https://launchpad.net/~dtl131/+archive/catalysthacks
    I have managed to make ati/xvba work in vlc, though I have to repackage libva because the dependencies conflict with the stock libva.
    I know, I have installed from your ppa because of your advise and it works, though understandably not as good as mplayer since as you explained, VLC uses vdpau indirectly through VAAPI. See this thread http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1677477 So let me thank you again for the good job.

    But it seems that ObZen's works just as well (but honestly I have only been testing ObZen's ppa on my test install from an external drive which runs Natty)

    Now my main machine is on Maverick and I plan to keep it at least til Dec (or perhaps April) but your ppa hasn't updated for Maverick since Jan (VLC still in version 1.14) I read on another thread that you are not planning to, so I am looking for other alternatives(some guy requested a version for Lucid and you went on complaining how Ubuntu's release cycle makes it hard for packagers,--which I agree,--and said that you won't be upgrading for Maverick either, which I can understand) I am planning to look at Andrew.46's guide eventually for compiling VLC myself, but it has to wait til I have the time.
    Last edited by beew; June 10th, 2011 at 05:42 PM.

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