H.264 decoding of the "16 Blocks" trailer - Courtesy
The long awaited, much antipicated H.264 decoding feature is finally available

MPEG-4 Part 10, better known as H.264, hardware decoding has been somewhat of a sticky issue for NVIDIA over the last year or two.  The feature had been claimed on and off on various products which left users with uncertainty. With NVIDIA's current drivers, version 81.98, not only is H.264 hardware decoding missing (could you tell from NVIDIA's website?), but video playback is actually broken in some situations. I use a Dell 3007WFP display and during hardware playback, if the video is enlarged beyond a certain size or maximized to screen, there are visible vertical lines that litter the entire video image. This does not seem to be noticeable on other displays but it appears to be a bug with the WQXGA resolution (2560x1600).

There is a new driver release on nZone that lists H.264 as one of the hardware acceleration features that is now enabled. The feature has been tested and appears fully functional as claimed. The issue that I witnessed with the current drivers in regards to video playback and vertical lines have also been resolved.

  • Updated March 3, 2006: Updated driver to include support for GeForce 6800 GS AGP.
  • Adds support for GeForce 7300 GS and GeForce 7300 LE GPUs.
  • New NVIDIA PureVideo features and enhancements. Please visit the NVIDIA PureVideo website for more information on PureVideo technology and system requirements.
  • Support for high definition H.264 hardware decode acceleration on GeForce 6 and 7 series GPUs.
  • Support for high definition MPEG-2 inverse telecine.
  • Support for high definition MPEG-2 spatial temporal de-interlacing.
  • Adds mixed vendor support for NVIDIA SLI.
  • TV-Out/HD-out support for NVIDIA SLI.
  • Added support for VSync on Direct3D games when running NVIDIA SLI.
  • MICROSOFT support 2.0 OpenGL® and 9.0c DirectX
Furthermore, Nero Inc. has also released Nero 7 Ultimate Edition with PureVideo H.264 acceleration for its ShowTime player.  The demo of the new software is available for 30 days, free, to anyone with a GeForce 6 or 7 series.

The H.264 format is herrald as the definitive format for HD playback and companies such as Apple have been supporting the format for sometime now. With the latest beta driver providing the long awaited H.264 hardware decoding, NVIDIA users are thrilled to finally see the much anticipated feature come to life.

A few review sites are already starting to crack into the performance of the new drivers, you can see one of the first reviews care of here (or translated to english).

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