nVidia is raising the bar on PC video acceleration with the release of PureVideo.
When the GeForce 6800 card was introduced earlier this year one of its main features was the programmable video processor, but it has taken until now for this feature to be used to its full potential. nVidia has even come up with a new name for it over the months, PureVideo.
The good news is that anyone with a GeForce 6 series graphics card will be able to take advantage of PureVideo, which is good news for anyone that has recently invested in an nVidia graphics solution. It also means that you don’t need an expensive graphics card to get high definition video acceleration on a Media Center PC as even a 6200 based card will be powerful enough.
The only problem is that the software won’t be free, due to various copyright and royalty issues with HD video that nVidia has to pay.
We don’t know exactly how much the software will cost but we are expecting it to come bundled with many GeForce 6 series graphics cards in the near future, much like the nVidia DVD codec. Hopefully the price of the new HD video codec won’t cost any more than the current DVD codec which is priced at $19.95 for a downloadable version.
Without being too technical the advantage of PureVideo is that it provides a range of features to improve your viewing experience, such as progressive scan de-interlacing, video scaling, 3:2 pull-down correction, video noise reduction and colour temperature correction. It all sounds very fancy, but what does it mean? To put it simply the progressive scan de-interlacing reduces or even removes any signs of feathering or jaggies that you might get on some types of video.
”’The image on the left is from a CRT, the middle image is a typical LCD and the right image is an LCD used with PureVideo.”’
Video scaling allows for much improved quality if you enlarge a low resolution video to run in full screen or when you zoom in at a specific part of a video. 3:2 pull-down correction or inverse telecine correction improves the overall video quality in footage that was shot at a lower frame rate than that required for HD video. nVidia also claims that with PureVideo jaggies can be hugely reduced on a poor quality video.
Video noise reduction allows for better quality recorded content, especially via a TV tuner. Reducing video noise brings with it another advantage since it will save storage space. Finally colour temperature correction allows for better colour accuracy on LCD displays. Although nVidia claims this has never been done before, many of the monitor manufacturers have features built into displays that allow you to adjust the colour temperature.
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nVidia has also added support for video encoding with the introduction of PureVideo and most of the playback features can be applied to the encoding side of the equation as well, with the video noise reduction looking particularly handy.
All these features used to put heavy loads on the CPU in the past, but nVidia claims that the GPU will now offload the CPU and thus provides for much smoother video playback than ever before. This is however not applicable to all types of video and mainly works with HD quality media and in particular WMV9 HD content which has yet to make it big outside the US.
With the introduction of HD-DVD and Blu-ray drives this might be a much more interesting feature, but at the moment distributed HD content is still pretty thin on the ground. On the other hand, if Windows Media Center Edition becomes as popular as Microsoft hopes, then WMV9 video acceleration will be a major selling point for nVidia.
Obviously we’ll need to do some testing with PureVideo to see how it measures up in the real world, so check back soon to find out what we think.
For more information visit www.nvidia.co.uk