Software with hardware HEVC & VP9 decode on 10.12 Sierra? Or is 10.13 High Sierra a requirement?

Discussion in 'macOS High Sierra (10.13)' started by EugW, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. EugW macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    My Kaby Lake MacBook should arrive tomorrow. Yay! :cool: My Kaby Lake iMac should arrive next week or so. Just for fun I want to test playback of some of those higher bitrate 10-bit h.265 HEVC videos. Hardware HEVC and VP9 support, and 4K DRM support, is why I waited for Kaby Lake after all. (I waited 8 years to update my laptop, and 7 years to update my desktop.)

    Is there any Mac software available that does proper hardware acceleration for h.265 HEVC video (mkv or mp4) that I can use on 10.12 Sierra? Or must I use 10.13 High Sierra in order to have any access to hardware h.265 decoding?

    If the latter, I suppose one thing I could do though is install the High Sierra beta on an external USB 3 drive and boot off that to test HEVC MP4 files (if I can find ones that are compatible with QuickTime). However, that doesn't help me for existing h.265 files I would want to play outside of just basic testing. I don't want to switch to 10.13 High Sierra on my machines until it's at least very close to release.

    BTW, what video files to test? I do note this page does have some mp4 files with 10-bit UHD 2160p HEVC video, but I wouldn't know if they are fully compatible with QuickTime or not.

    Also, what about VP9? If I use the Chrome browser for YouTube 4K, would VP9 be hardware accelerated in either 10.12 Sierra or 10.13 High Sierra?
  2. EugW, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017

    EugW thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    I tried the playback software mpv and while it can decode HEVC cleanly, there doesn't seem to be any hardware HEVC acceleration at all, at least in 10.12.5.

    I went to this site and downloaded the Jellyfish 120 Mbps 10-bit HEVC file.

    It plays absolutely perfectly on my 2017 iMac Core i7 7700K in Sierra 10.12.5, but it can use up to 500% CPU (out of a maximum 800%). Clearly this is not ideal. I have not yet had the chance to try an mp4 file in High Sierra 10.6, but that site has mp4 files too. I don't know if they are compatible with High Sierra's QuickTime or not though.

    I then downloaded the "Camp (Nature) 4K HDR Demo (Sony)" file which is a 76 Mbps 4K 60 fps HEVC file and the machine goes into loud fan mode with 650% CPU usage, and the video is quite stuttery. Not nice at all. Remember, this is with the fastest quad-core Mac that Apple sells.

    I also tried the "Philips Supershop Demo 1 (Red Bikini)" file which is a 38 Mbps 4K 24 fps 10-bit HEVC file and it plays perfectly without loud fan mode, but with up to about 500% usage.

    We definitely need the hardware acceleration here that Kaby Lake provides. Can someone with a 2017 Kaby Lake Mac try the Sony file in 10.6 High Sierra?

    Also, there is no hardware VP9 acceleration in Chrome. YouTube just does software VP9 decode. I've been surfing around YouTube's 2160p 4K videos and trying them out on my 2017 m3 in the Chrome browser. On my MacBook 12" 2017 Core m3, 1440p24 p30, and p60 all work fine without any hiccups. However, some 2160p material will stutter. The bottom of the machine will get very warm, but it does seem to work for relatively extended periods. I tried for several minutes and it doesn't seem to get much worse. CPU can be as high as 200-300% (out of a maximum 400%).

    I don't know if the i7 MacBook would fare any better on the 2160p material or not. Here is one example video:

    These videos play perfectly on my Core i7 7700K iMac, not surprisingly, although even on that the CPU usage will go over 200%. Fan remains silent.

    Fortunately, there is a solution for YouTube, and that is just to use Safari. Safari won't display VP9 video. It just gets h.264 instead. This is only up to 1440p instead of 2160p, but for YouTube that's fine. On the MacBook too the 1440p is the native resolution anyway. CPU usage with h.264 playback is extremely low. On my iMac it was only a few %.
  3. Ritsuka macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2006
    HEVC hardware acceleration requires High Sierra and the right hardware. There isn't any support for VP9 hardware acceleration.
  4. loekf macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2015
    Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    About VP9: Polaris does, Kabylake does and Nvidia Pascal does. If not it's an Apple decision to not expose the HW.
  5. EugW thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    The video out of my iPhone 7 Plus in iOS 11 is 4K 2160p30 HEVC, but it's a lot easier to play back than some of the other 4K HEVC stuff out there. However, all the software I've tried on Sierra only can play it back with software, if it plays it back at all:

    1) MPV - Clean playback on 2017 Core i7 iMac, with moderate CPU utilization.
    2) IINA - Clean playback on 2017 Core i7 iMac, with moderate CPU utilization.
    3) QuickTime - Won't play it at all. I just get a black screen.
    4) VLC - Messy slideshow with all sorts of artifacts on 2017 Core i7 iMac.

    Note that IINA, even these iPhone 4K files won't play cleanly on my old 2010 Core i7 iMac. I get serious stuttering, on this 2.93 GHz quad-core with HyperThreading. Ouch! And my iPad Air 2 is a lost cause for 4K, even in iOS 11. It's useless with the built-in iOS 11 playback but it's also not very good with the third party player Infuse 4. There is no hardware playback support even in iOS 11 for devices of the iPad Air 2 era. You need an A9 SoC or later. The SoC is just too weak to play 4K HEVC back in software. It should be fine with play back of iPhone 1080p HEVC in software, but at the expense of battery life.

    I have not yet been able to try High Sierra on my Macs, as I am still waiting on the public beta.
  6. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 601


    Jul 4, 2015
  7. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    I think h264ify solves the VP9 problem in Chrome:
  8. EugW, Jun 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017

    EugW thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    It turns out there are actually two Camp (Nature) Sony files there. They're both the same video at about the same bit rate, but one is 8-bit colour and one is 10-bit colour.

    On my 4.2 GHz Core i7 iMac in Sierra 10.12.5, I tried playing back both files with both HyperThreading on and HyperThreading off.

    8-bit, HT: Plays perfectly smoothly, until the end Sony logo. CPU usage usually hovers around 300%. Fan is maybe 2000 rpm about half way through.
    8-bit, no HT: Plays perfectly smoothly, until the end Sony logo. CPU usage usually hovers around 300%. Fan is maybe 2000 rpm near the end.

    Note that by 300%, it was with each real core about 65-80ish%, and then the HT "cores" around 5-10%. Sometimes it peaked higher though.

    10-bit, HT: Plays with occasional stutters, but ironically end Sony logo smooth. CPU usage much higher, up to around 500%ish. Fan comes on max 2700 rpm not too long into the video.
    10-bit, no HT: Plays with more stutters, but ironically end Sony logo smooth. Fan comes on max 2700 rpm but it takes a bit longer.

    Note that by 500%, the true cores were 80-90%, plus some HT "cores" were close to 40% usage on top of that. And yet it still stuttered.

    What this means is that even the 8-bit video might stutter on say a 3.4 GHz i5-7500 if played by software. Or else it will be just borderline with the CPU pegged.

    Note that neither file would play on my iPhone 7 Plus with iOS 11. I'd just get a black screen with a spinning ring of death. This makes me wonder just how complete the QuickTime support will be in macOS 10.13 High Sierra too. We shall see how well these play back in macOS' QuickTime. Or maybe the bitrate is just too high, or else it's the wrong HEVC profile for an iPhone.


    I then downloaded the 8-bit Philips Light Waves Demo 2 video which is a lot lower bitrate. The iMac didn't brake a sweat on this one. CPU usage was 100-150% and the fan never came on.
  9. EugW thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    This poster tested Sony's camp/nature 4K HEVC videos, both 8-bit and 10-bit in QuickTime in High Sierra on his Skylake MacBook Pro:

    8-bit 4K HEVC video played perfectly, as hoped.
    10-bit 4K HEVC video was unwatchable, as expected.

    So now we have confirmation that Apple's QT implementation for at least 8-bit 4K HEVC works well. I presume the same is true for 10-bit as well, but we'll have to wait for an actual test on a Kaby Lake machine.
  10. EugW thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    Sweet! Sony Camp 10-bit 4K 2160p60 HEVC 76 Mbps video plays perfectly on my Core m3 MacBook 2017 in High Sierra.


    It's not exactly low CPU usage, but it's low enough to make multitasking reasonable.

    VP9 in Chrome remains completely software decoded.
  11. Crisis macrumors member

    Jul 19, 2012

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