Apple Adding H.264 Hardware Decoder Chip to Macs?

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by mrgreen4242, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #1
  2. Retired

    psychofreak

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    #2
    I don't really see much point in the mac mini for example...
     
  3. macrumors 68020

    Diode

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    #3
    Could be help for apple tv users needing to convert a butload of media.
     
  4. TBi
    macrumors 68030

    TBi

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    #4
    The new ATi chips have H.264 decode/encode built in (AVIVO). All this means is that all the Mac's will be getting ATi chips (or the nVidia equivalent). There won't be a dedicated chip other than that.

    I don't get what he thinks the big hoopla is about. Anyone with half a brain could have predicted this. (Except maybe in the Mini or Macbook which don't have ATi chips but may in the future have them)
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #5
    Um. That's exactly the point... even the slower/less expensive machines would have the same baseline for video performance as the most expensive machines. The benefits outside of video production is in faster than realtime transferring of video to iPods/iTV/websharing.

    Apple could sell HD movies and iTunes could transcode that video to an iPod sized file, etc etc. Assuming it did MPEG2 as well as h264 (not unlikely if it happened) it would benefit iDVD which is something that people are going to be using more and more for home movies, photo slideshows, amateur productions, etc etc.

    Anyways, if they do this, I expect to see it more as a Core Video like implementation where supported GPUs take over encoding/decoding work which would give a baseline level of support to all Macs but would give people incentive to upgrade to more expensive machines/GPUs.
     
  6. TBi
    macrumors 68030

    TBi

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    #6

    If it is a dedicated chip then they will all be as fast, but if like i'm thinking it will just be an ATi graphics chip doing the encode then the faster macs (with faster graphics) will still have an edge speedwise.

    However, if true and there will be a dedicated chip then that would add credence to the rumor that they will be announcing special hardware accelerators for the Mac Pro.
     
  7. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    I don't see any big hoopla, but riddle me this: if this is such an obvious development, then why hasn't anyone done it yet?
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    This would be a pretty significant update to owners who currently have 24" iMac's and use them as there media center.

    An update like this would really make me consider selling my 24" iMac.

    Power supply temperature of 186 degree's ferhanheit while converting 720p 59.7fps recording to be able to play on a dvd player and sustaining those high temps for about an hour trying to do the encoding and then burn it. All the while using 98% of the cpu power
     
  9. macrumors demi-god

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    #9
    Yay.

    Then maybe the "vencoder" process won't use 40% of my CPU when I'm in a video iChat. :)
     
  10. TBi
    macrumors 68030

    TBi

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    #10
    I don't think the X1600 comes with Avivo but the newer chips from ATi do (the X1650 or something). More than likely Apple is going to upgrade all it's systems with these new Avivo chips.

    If you have a PC with an AVIVO enabled ATi card you can download a special decoder from ATi.

    (Looking at it i'm not sure if it can do hardware encode of H.264 at the moment but with the programmable pipeline i'd say it is possible to code this in in the future.
     
  11. macrumors 68020

    Krevnik

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    #11
    Usually cost is a reason. Including a hardware chip for DSP tends to not be the cheapest thing in the world (a decent one is easily around the same cost as a GPU), and using special drivers for a feature currently in a small line of GPUs isn't a great use of money either.

    Take the life of hardware DVD decoders in Macs... it lasted a whopping 3 products until the G4 hit, which closed the gap between software and hardware decoding (at least enough to not justify a 25-50$ chipset being added or sold as upgrades). The Lombard, the Pismo, and the B&W G3.

    Already, H.264 decoding on recent Macs can do 1080p or get darn close to it. The main benefit of a H.264 chip is transcoding or encoding, which without a user scenario that makes sense (i.e... if users of an Apple app or peripheral can benefit greatly from it), isn't worth the trouble implementing.

    I see this more being useful in Final Cut for HD authoring, or in iTunes for HD-DVD/Blu-Ray 'Managed Copy'.
     
  12. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #12
    Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I think Cringley is suggesting something different, which is h.264 encoding and decoding in hardware on all Macs. Has anyone done that yet? Would it have the benefits he describes?
     
  13. TBi
    macrumors 68030

    TBi

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    #13
    Thing is that if you had full AVIVO then that would be hardware encoding/decoding. Just built into the GPU and not seperate.
     
  14. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #14
    I get that, but if Cringley is right, Apple is planning on incorporating full h.264 support into their entire product line. This implies something more than upgrading the GPU, since both the mini and the MacBook don't have a GPU. FWIW, Apple has some history of building Macs with hardware encoding/decoding -- the Quadra 660av and 840av models, almost 15 years ago.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #15
    The Lombard and Wallstreet PowerBooks and B&W PowerMac had optional hardware MPEG2 decoding as well. Not encoding, though.

    Something else that this would allow is fast and presumably legal ripping of DVDs to iPods. That is, every Mac has a license to decode DVDs and the act of format shifting DVDs is legal, only removing the encryption is. Since you can legally decrypt a movie on any Mac, piping the data into a hardware encoder for realtime h.264 rather than a display should be a legal task. Not sure if they'd be allowed to do it faster than realtime, but realtime at least.

    So, this could be a way for Apple to incorporate DVD ripping into iTunes...
     
  16. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    #16
    Apple Adding H.264 Hardware Decoder Chip to Macs?

    [​IMG]

    Robert Cringley claims that Apple is planning on incorporating dedicated H.264 decoding chips into future Mac hardware.

    The article claims that incorporating a dedicated H.264 decoding chip will allow Apple to ensure the same base performance on every machine it sells. The $50 chip is said to also offer H.264 encoding to allow users to quickly encode high quality video clips for upload to the internet.
     
  17. macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #17
    Nice - yet another thing to look forward to when I buy a new Mac portable in a few months - assuming this is true... ;) :cool:
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    crap freakboy

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    #18
    Well, if that is true then it can only be a good thing.
    For that small sum it would be madness not to include that magnitude of encoding speed across the board. Handbrake users rejoice. I am drunk.:)
     
  19. macrumors 68020

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    #19
    So a 50$ chip will be faster than the core 2 duo monsters?
     
  20. Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

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    #20
    It's not so much that it'll be faster, but that it won't slow down the system. If it's sitting on a dedicated chip, then you still have 100% of your CPU available for other stuff.
     
  21. macrumors 68000

    FoxyKaye

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    #21
    It would certainly be a welcome addition on my next Mac - because encoding H.264 on my current iMac is *woof, woof* dog slow. Also bodes well for the HD market and the general direction FCP and iLife apps are taking.
     
  22. Retired

    psychofreak

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    #22
    It would be great for people who want to quickly rip a DVD for watching on :apple: tv
     
  23. macrumors 68020

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    #23
    don't know why I didn't think of that. I wonder if the apple tv is using this?
     
  24. macrumors 68000

    hvfsl

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    #24
    All Intel Macs (with Nvidia and ATI graphics cards) should already have hardware H.264 decoding. IIRC the ATI cards can even do hardware encoding (well ATI were working on this a while back, but haven't heard much since).

    So it should just be a matter of enabling those features.
     
  25. macrumors 65816

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    #25
    It shouldn't be hard with newer hardware to use the gpu processing power to supplement cpu power. Folding@home has a version of the software that can work on nvidia/ati gfx cards on windows systems so I don't see why a similar approach couldn't be taken by Apple for h264 encoding etc.
     

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