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Old Apr 18, 2008, 02:43 AM   #1
hotshotharry
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gma 950 / x3100 video playback 1080p

i was wondering how the video playback of 1080p and 720p files compares between the x3100 and the gma950.

i have a 2.16 mb with gma 950 and it seems to stutter a bit on some 1080p files. however i noticed that it seems to favour 1 core or the oother when playing back mkv files on vlc, while the 720p files seem fine.

will the new macbooks play 1080p files? it would seem there is adequate processor powerso maybe its a limitaion of the video card.

Does anyone have any luck playing 1080p files on the older 950 hardware?
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 02:46 AM   #2
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The gma 950 only has mpg hardware acceleration, does the x3100 have .264 acceleration?
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 02:51 AM   #3
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i have the latest gen mb (x3100?) and it plays 1080p wonderfully!! i was watching the matrix 1080p today and there was absolutely no stuttering at all. no codecs were needed either (i used vlc player). i didn't think that onboard graphics could do it, but this makes me love my mb even more. if you want to test your machine, dl a couple of 1080p movie trailers from apple's website.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 02:52 AM   #4
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Not sure bout this, I would think they do though, my MBP runs them smoothly
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 03:01 AM   #5
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Video playback is more processor based. The GPU doesn't really affect playback so it shouldn't really matter.

As long as you have an Intel dual core Mac you should be fine so I agree, it would be useful to download movie trailers from Apple and test.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 03:29 AM   #6
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I just downloaded a 1080p video from apple.com ran fine on my 1.83GHz stock c2d mini. Surely your 'book should do better, unless there's some penalty to displaying on a non-1080p screen? Mine is.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 04:15 AM   #7
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Video playback is more processor based. The GPU doesn't really affect playback so it shouldn't really matter.
Thats definitely true for OS X. Unlike Windows, video playback in OS X is done entirely by the CPU. It doesn't matter if you have a MacBook, Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, iMac, or MacBook Air. OS X does not take advantage of GPU features for video playback.

I have the same MacBook as the OP. It's played every video I have thrown at it. CPU use has been unnecessarily high compared to my HP, and the video doesn't look as good as the HP, but the system certainly has the horsepower to play any video currently out there.

This is one area where OS X is far behind Windows. Windows, especially Vista, paired with a modern GPU will offload nearly all of the video work to the GPU. My HP has a C2D 2GHz (Santa Rosa) and a GeForce 8400M GS. My MacBook is the "mid-2007" model with the 2.16GHz C2D and the Intel GMA950. A 720p H.264 video on my HP will peak at 5% CPU use (one core) and look much better compared to the MacBook thanks to the GPU's hardware color correction, scaling, deblocking, etc. The same video on the Mac will eat up between 50-60% of one core and not even look half as good as it does on the HP. DVDs look better on the HP too. CPU use hovers around 2% (even decoding DTS!) and it looks 100x better than the MacBook (especially DVD Player in Tiger!). DVD playback in OS X hovers around 30% of one core.

Not starting a flame war. Just stating the obvious that Apple needs to put dedicated GPUs in the MacBooks and bring this aspect of OS X into the modern world as well.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 04:23 AM   #8
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Smile

Well that is good news! perhaps the movie i was trying to watch had some issues, I will have to try this again with some different files.

Thanks for the replies
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 04:39 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by mosx View Post
Windows, especially Vista, paired with a modern GPU will offload nearly all of the video work to the GPU. My HP has a C2D 2GHz (Santa Rosa) and a GeForce 8400M GS. My MacBook is the "mid-2007" model with the 2.16GHz C2D and the Intel GMA950. A 720p H.264 video on my HP will peak at 5% CPU use (one core) and look much better compared to the MacBook thanks to the GPU's hardware color correction, scaling, deblocking, etc.
You're not comparing like with like. A fairer test would be for you to playback the same video in Windows on your MacBook. Also the 8400M GS is a much better GPU than the GMA950 and even the X3100.

For sometime now, Nvidia cards (even my 7300) have had H.264 hardware acceleration. The GMA950 doesn't have this capability. So it's completely normal for your MacBook's CPU to be doing all the heavy lifting when playing back H.264 content.

Also, it doesn't really have anything to do with the OS (at least on the Windows side of things). It's not Vista that offloads the video to the GPU, it's NVidia's driver. Without PureVideo support in the NVidia driver, there's not going to be any decoding work offloaded to the GPU.

So it's not so much OS X is worse than Vista/XP in respect to HD playback but rather Apple's hardware isn't as good as HP's. Although I'd be very interested to see some benchmarks relating to HD playback performance on equivalent Windows and Mac machines.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 09:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotshotharry View Post
i was wondering how the video playback of 1080p and 720p files compares between the x3100 and the gma950.

i have a 2.16 mb with gma 950 and it seems to stutter a bit on some 1080p files. however i noticed that it seems to favour 1 core or the oother when playing back mkv files on vlc, while the 720p files seem fine.
Not all video files are the same, and not all playback software is the same. VLC does not take much advantage of dual cores. What is the bitrate of the file you're playing back, and what compression algorithm is used for its MKV encoding?

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Does anyone have any luck playing 1080p files on the older 950 hardware?
XBMC is, without a doubt, the best media playback software for the Mac. I can play 10 mbps 1080 video on my measly 1.66 Core Duo Mac Mini and it does not stutter at all.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 09:04 AM   #11
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Thats definitely true for OS X. Unlike Windows, video playback in OS X is done entirely by the CPU.
This is untrue. Can you imagine how awful the Apple TV would be at playing back 720/H.264, considering it's using a single-core 1 gHz P4?
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 09:45 AM   #12
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This is untrue. Can you imagine how awful the Apple TV would be at playing back 720/H.264, considering it's using a single-core 1 gHz P4?
Could that be something to do with the Nvidia 7300 graphics driver in the AppleTV? It could behave the same as the Windows drivers as was mentioned before.

As for Macs with no discreet GPU, the CPU must be taking on the load of playing the video. Hence, the OP should not have any trouble playing 1080p movies on his GMA 950 Macbook.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 10:07 AM   #13
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Have any of you tried running a MacBook with a GMA950 or X3100 to a 1080p TV in Front Row in DVD mode? Mine stutters like nothing else. In XBMC the same Video_TS folders play flawlessly. Is Front Row really that buggy? I've played 1080p video files downloaded from various places on the net (trailers mostly), and they play great in anything but Front Row. I'm using a MacBook with an X3100.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 11:24 AM   #14
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Could that be something to do with the Nvidia 7300 graphics driver in the AppleTV? It could behave the same as the Windows drivers as was mentioned before.
That's exactly the case. The video driver (whether for discrete or onboard) is responsible for such decisions. If the hardware supports acceleration for a particular codec, then it should pass it to the device. For the GMA950 and X3100, this means MPEG-2. For the NVida it means MPEG-2 and H.264. The GMA950 and X3100 do not have hardware acceleration for H.264, thus it must be decoded by the playback app using the cpu(s).

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As for Macs with no discreet GPU, the CPU must be taking on the load of playing the video. Hence, the OP should not have any trouble playing 1080p movies on his GMA 950 Macbook.
That's not necessarily true. If it is encoded in MPEG-2 (DVDs and some Blu-Ray/HD-DVD movies) it would be, but not for MPEG-4 H.264 (the format of choice for the ATV and most Blu-Ray/HD-DVD titles). You also have to consider the bit rate as well. VLC, Quicktime and Front Row do not utilize multicore processors very well. XBMC does so extremely well. I can play 10 mbps 1080 video (24fps) on a 1.66 gHz Core Duo Mac Mini with its GMA950 without any stuttering at all. But if you try playing the same file with VLC, QT or FR, it will choke. XBMC is a kick-@$$ app.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 11:39 AM   #15
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XBMC is, without a doubt, the best media playback software for the Mac. I can play 10 mbps 1080 video on my measly 1.66 Core Duo Mac Mini and it does not stutter at all.
Where does one download XBMC for the Mac (OS X)?
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 12:10 PM   #16
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 12:13 PM   #17
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This is untrue. Can you imagine how awful the Apple TV would be at playing back 720/H.264, considering it's using a single-core 1 gHz P4?
A Pentium-M is more then capable of handling 720p playback without any problems. I've done it many times on my older Dell laptops. It's even true of nasty h.264 in MKV files.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 02:45 PM   #18
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WOW that program is incredible! looks very nice too and play the video file i was having trouble with! Thanks :-)

But how the heck do you get it to go full screen LOL
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 02:51 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by leighonigar View Post
I just downloaded a 1080p video from apple.com ran fine on my 1.83GHz stock c2d mini. Surely your 'book should do better, unless there's some penalty to displaying on a non-1080p screen? Mine is.
I don't think the OP is on about "Apple 1080p Videos" he/she is on about MKV's I think. So this really is no good as Apple ones are encoded differently and are short not movie length.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 03:34 PM   #20
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A Pentium-M is more then capable of handling 720p playback without any problems. I've done it many times on my older Dell laptops. It's even true of nasty h.264 in MKV files.
What video card/gpu did your Dells have?
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 06:06 PM   #21
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You're not comparing like with like. A fairer test would be for you to playback the same video in Windows on your MacBook. Also the 8400M GS is a much better GPU than the GMA950 and even the X3100.
Go ahead and compare The GMA950 in both of your Macs supports HWMC for DVD/MPEG-2 decoding. Install Windows and get the PowerDVD 8 demo. Enable hardware acceleration. See just how different your DVDs look in OS X and Windows and see just how much lower the CPU use is under Windows with and without HWMC enabled.

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For sometime now, Nvidia cards (even my 7300) have had H.264 hardware acceleration. The GMA950 doesn't have this capability. So it's completely normal for your MacBook's CPU to be doing all the heavy lifting when playing back H.264 content.
Actually, a quick google search will reveal that the 7300 line of GeForce cards (mobile ones anyway, like in the Apple TV) do NOT have hardware acceleration of any type for H.264. Their implimentation of "PureVideo" only includes full decoding for MPEG-2 and some support for WMV-HD. nVidia's own product feature page specifically says "features may vary by product" and other pages regarding the mobile 7300 line clearly state that its only MPEG-2 and WMV-HD support. http://www.nvidia.com/page/go_7300_features.html no mention of H.264 anyway. Just MPEG-2 and WMV HD.

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Also, it doesn't really have anything to do with the OS (at least on the Windows side of things). It's not Vista that offloads the video to the GPU, it's NVidia's driver. Without PureVideo support in the NVidia driver, there's not going to be any decoding work offloaded to the GPU.
While its true that the driver tells Windows how to use the hardware, its all about DXVA, VMR7, and VMR9, as well as what software player you use. You can have the latest and greatest drivers installed, but if you're using software that doesn't support your hardware features, it does not matter.

DXVA is a system wide feature in Windows that allows nearly anything that accesses video overlay to take full advantage of the hardware.

Apple simply does NOT have a similar technology (it is NOT Windows exclusive, Apple could EASILY write support for this into DVD Player and Quicktime). It IS an OS "thing" and Apple does not have it.

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So it's not so much OS X is worse than Vista/XP in respect to HD playback but rather Apple's hardware isn't as good as HP's. Although I'd be very interested to see some benchmarks relating to HD playback performance on equivalent Windows and Mac machines.
It has everything to do with OS X simply not taking advantage of the available hardware. Get anyone with any of the current iMacs or current MacBook Pros to run HD video in OS X then over in Windows with a PureVideo (or ATI equivalent) capable software player. The difference will be night and day in both CPU use and image quality.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. You go to any home theater forum on the internet and you look up threads where people ask how to improve the video image quality output by their Mac. Whats the answer given every single time? "Install Windows".

Like I said, I'm not trying to start a "flame war" or another "Mac vs. PC" debate. The simple truth is that OS X is not taking advantage of technology that has been available for years.

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This is untrue. Can you imagine how awful the Apple TV would be at playing back 720/H.264, considering it's using a single-core 1 gHz P4?
As Edorian said, Pentium Ms are more than capable of 720p playback. Thats exactly what is in the Apple TV. A newer version of the Dothan (Pentium M) CPU running at 1GHz.

Again, the GeForce Go 7300 that is used by the Apple TV is NOT capable of hardware H.264 acceleration or decoding of any kind http://www.nvidia.com/page/go_7300_features.html

Why do you think the Apple TV is limited to 720p H.264 with low bitrates? Because it is relying entirely on the CPU for playback.

You know, it is funny though. The Apple TV costs $229 and has a MUCH better graphics processor than the Mac mini costing 3x as much, and the MacBooks costing more than $1,000 more. Why is it the Apple TV gets a dedicated GPU thats better than the consumer notebooks costing more than 5x as much? Why do the MacBooks cost around 5x as much as the Apple TV but get the worst GPUs on the market? Thats ridiculous.

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That's exactly the case. The video driver (whether for discrete or onboard) is responsible for such decisions. If the hardware supports acceleration for a particular codec, then it should pass it to the device. For the GMA950 and X3100, this means MPEG-2. For the NVida it means MPEG-2 and H.264. The GMA950 and X3100 do not have hardware acceleration for H.264, thus it must be decoded by the playback app using the cpu(s).
Again, that is not true. Apple simply does NOT take advantage of hardware features in OS X. It has nothing to do with the video driver. Apple simply does not take advantage of the features available to them.

Your sig says you have a MacBook Pro. Is it one with a GeForce? If it is, put Vista on it, get a demo of PowerDVD 8 and enable PureVideo in the player. Compare DVDs in it and DVD Player in OS X. You will see a complete world of difference. Also use VLC in Windows (the Windows version takes advantage of DXVA) to play some H.264 video and then play the same video in Quicktime or VLC in OS X. Again, world of difference.

Mac OS X simply DOES NOT take advantage of hardware features.

Quote:
What video card/gpu did your Dells have?
Again, that doesn't matter. OS X simply doesn't take advantage of the GPU features available to it. Neither does the Apple TV because.. well, hardware support for H.264 just isn't there.

The fact is that OS X and the Apple TV, regardless of GPU, rely entirely on the CPU for video playback of ANY kind. You can see the difference yourself if you have a GeForce based MBP. Your iMac *might* be able to, but those older ATI cards that Apple used in the pre-aluminum iMacs are.. well, old, and don't have all of the features the current and previous generation do.

Edit: I just want to point out that every time I mention installing Windows, I mean with Boot Camp not in a VM.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 06:31 PM   #22
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Again, the GeForce Go 7300 that is used by the Apple TV is NOT capable of hardware H.264 acceleration or decoding of any kind
Can you explain why this NVidia document says it does?
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 06:43 PM   #23
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Can you explain why this NVidia document says it does?
Good job linking to a document that shows the DESKTOP version and not the MOBILE version used by the Apple TV

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_TV#Specifications

You'll notice that your own link stops well short of the 7300. Your own link even shows the differences in features between desktop and mobile versions of the same card.

As they say on the internets "FAIL"
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 07:29 PM   #24
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Go ahead and compare
I'll let someone else do the benchmarks, thanks. I'm happy enough to take your word for it.

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Actually, a quick google search will reveal that the 7300 line of GeForce cards (mobile ones anyway, like in the Apple TV) do NOT have hardware acceleration of any type for H.264.
I was referring to a desktop PCI-E card that I once had along with a AMD 4200 X2. Despite its H.264 hardware acceleration, it sucked at playing back 1080i MBAFF. 7600GT wasn't any better.

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I've said this before and I'll say it again. You go to any home theater forum on the internet and you look up threads where people ask how to improve the video image quality output by their Mac. Whats the answer given every single time? "Install Windows".
I'm not that desperate.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 08:57 PM   #25
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What video card/gpu did your Dells have?
They're some Dell Latitude D500s. They have GeForce Go FX5200 and 5640 video cards. You're not going to get spiffy HD acceleration on those cards.

mosx summed up the rest of what I wanted to say.
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