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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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    Regarding 2560x1600 and 81.98
    By SLCentral on 3/6/2006 8:31:41 AM , Rating: 2
    Strange that you've been seeing vertical lines in video; is this a issue thats effected a wide range of people? I use a Apple 30" Display paired up with a 7800GTX using the 81.98 drivers, and I am able to watch .ts HDTV files at full screen with no problems, as well as DVD's, streaming video, etc.

    Perhaps that was a problem with your system specifically?

    RE: Regarding 2560x1600 and 81.98
    By ahkey on 3/6/2006 9:21:38 AM , Rating: 2
    Could it be that you're processor and graphics card combined can handle HD without the .264 codec? The easiest way to tell is by checking your cpu utilization - anything above 40% and the codec's likely not being used.

    RE: Regarding 2560x1600 and 81.98
    By SLCentral on 3/6/2006 9:44:58 AM , Rating: 2
    I doubt it. 1080p is hard to play on any system with no frame drops without GPU accelleration. I'm not at my main system now, so I can't test.

    RE: Regarding 2560x1600 and 81.98
    By Methusela on 3/6/2006 10:19:04 AM , Rating: 2
    Is 1080p hard on a system? I ask because I've got my old AMD 1600+ with a GF4 Ti4200 128meg and 1 gig of pc2100 ram outputting via DVI to my Dell 2405fpw and it upscales dvds to 1920x1200 with ease. It does the same for divx and xvid, as well as mpeg2. Is that not beyond the resolution of 1080p? I must be missing something.

    By SLCentral on 3/6/2006 10:23:17 AM , Rating: 2
    Any H.264 content is taxing on a system. The thing that makes it so taxing is not just the resolution, but rather, the codec.

    By squeezee on 3/6/2006 10:25:55 AM , Rating: 2
    Resizing video to a higher resolution is an essentially free operation since it is performed by the video card in hardware.

    He is referring to video where the source file is 1920x1080 resolution. In this case every video frame has six times more pixels to actually decode per frame. H.264 itself is also a relatively CPU Heavy codec to begin with even more than simple MPEG4(divx/xvid).

    By squeezee on 3/6/2006 10:18:45 AM , Rating: 2
    There is almost ALWAYS some sort of video problem with NVIDIA drivers, especially the beta drivers. They usually relate to either a high desktop resolution and/or high video resolution.

    With 84.12 when the video card is using Hardware Overlays any video file with a resolution of over ~1280 pixels wide will display discolored vertical bands on video resized past about ~2050+ pixels. This only affects Overlay mode with HD resolution video, it doesn't affect VMR7/9 modes if your player supports them.

    This is actually better than the 83.90 beta driver where it had the problem of smearing ANY video rezized past ~2050+ pixels wide using either overlays or VMR7 (VMR9 wasn't affected).

    RE: Regarding 2560x1600 and 81.98
    By Motley on 3/6/2006 11:40:13 AM , Rating: 2
    .ts HDTV files and DVDs are MPEG-2. MPEG-2 doesn't require as much CPU.

    By SLCentral on 3/6/2006 12:42:26 PM , Rating: 2
    I realize this. I should have included in my original post that H.264 video doesn't give me that bug either.

    RE: Regarding 2560x1600 and 81.98
    By smitty3268 on 3/6/2006 1:57:15 PM , Rating: 2
    Maybe this is a Windows driver problem only. I assume you're using that Apple display with OSX, right?

    By SLCentral on 3/6/2006 2:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
    Nope, I'm actually using it with a Windows PC. I used to use it with my PowerBook, but I needed more speed (this was before the MacBook Pro's) for Maya rendering, so I had to switch to a desktop PC.

    Broken VP Haunts NV40 Again
    By Slaimus on 3/6/2006 10:59:56 AM , Rating: 3
    And even though they said Geforce6, I doubt my NV40-based 6800 AGP will be supported because of the VP bug that they never bothered to fix in NV40.

    RE: Broken VP Haunts NV40 Again
    By JoKeRr on 3/6/2006 2:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
    yes,unfortunately you're right (damn I have a 6800GT agp). Look at this page and scroll down:

    H.264 and WMV9 acceleration are missing for both SD and HD format for 6800GT and Ultra.

    Also notice Inverse Telecine and Bad Edit Correction are only available for 6800Ultra AGP (out of all the AGP parts), even though 6800GT is exactly the same core, also notice those 2 features are even available on 7300LE PCI-E which I'm sure is not as powerful as a 6800GT or Ultra.

    So go figure.

    RE: Broken VP Haunts NV40 Again
    By ViRGE on 3/6/2006 6:22:50 PM , Rating: 2
    It gets wierder, the 6200 AGP has high-def H.264 acceleration but [i]not[/i] MPEG2.

    By NullSubroutine on 3/6/2006 11:55:09 PM , Rating: 2
    there was a physical defect in all 6800 series cards, it was fixed in the 6600 (revision) graphics.

    RE: Broken VP Haunts NV40 Again
    By MDme on 3/6/2006 10:38:31 PM , Rating: 2
    We should sue nVidia for this broken NV40 crap. They should've at least given some consideration for the early adopters who bought 6800GT's and Ultras. This really sucks. At least offer a trade-in for a 6800GS.

    RE: Broken VP Haunts NV40 Again
    By Zoomer on 3/8/2006 4:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
    I recall the 6800GS was a die shrink, did they take the chance to fix it?

    Or was it just an optical shrink? Can't really remember.

    Are these beta?
    By Enoch2001 on 3/6/2006 8:02:02 AM , Rating: 1
    Just wondering...

    RE: Are these beta?
    By tuteja1986 on 3/6/2006 10:56:37 AM , Rating: 2
    Are they better than ATI's AVIVO H.264:?

    RE: Are these beta?
    By kpb on 3/6/2006 2:22:02 PM , Rating: 2
    Whats actually required to get the acceleration working?

    I have to admit this is something that I never quite got altho I haven't really researched it much. The picture and caption seems to indicate that itunes could or should be accelerated by this but when I tested it out it didnt seem to make any difference.

    Played the brothers grim 720p trailer and got spikes of up to 90% and almost always over 50% on my athlon 64 3200. Installed the new drivers and tried the same thing and got the same results.

    I've got a pci e 6800gs which should do it just fine. (no broken vp)

    RE: Are these beta?
    By SNM on 3/6/2006 5:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
    You still need to pay for the actual PureVideo codec; it's sadly not free.

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