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  • Choosing the right chipset for a HTPC

    Hi All,

    I'm building a Linux-based HTPC, and am attracted to various AMD/ATI 690G boards. Mainly because of low cost, low power integrated graphics (X1250) with HDMI output already built in.

    The other main option is an all Intel solution, with a G33 chipset. I would probably drive my TV with a DVI-to-HDMI cable in this case, as inbuilt HDMI are a bit harder to come by.

    I'd like to know experiences people have with driving HD televisions with these chipsets. I'd like to get 1080p video output and basic OpenGL with enough performance to run the various HTPC interfaces such as XbMC (for linux), elisa, mythtv and linuxmce.

    - Is ATI still too much of a pain, despite recent improvements? Are the video playback acceleration capabilities working properly on linux?
    - Is the Intel too slow? Does it have video playback acceleration?
    - Would I be better off with a discrete card? Which one?

    My laptop's nvidia is quite good through DVI, but has some occasional video tearing. Plus I want to support Intel and AMD with their open source strategies if possible.

    Thanks in advance,

    L

  • #2
    my brother has an G33 gigabyte board with hdmi plug on..

    What you have, is XV from the intel driver, and it works well.

    3d is also very usable, allthough it naturally does not match that of highend cards..

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks,

      I think after a bit more research I'll go with the Intel. They seem to have fixed their Xv issues, and the Nvidia/ATI alternatives don't have great support for hardware video decoding on Linux. Of course, I can always buy a discrete ATI/Nvidia card if the integrated Intel isn't up to it, wheras I can't buy a discrete Intel card.

      I'm almost tempted to wait for the G45 chipset release, but it seems to be pushed back further and further (September even?).

      Comment


      • #4
        Not trying to change your mind or anything, just wanted to point out that Xv is not video decode acceleration. Xv is video *render* acceleration ie "the stuff that happens after decoding". Video decode includes IDCT and MC, while video render includes colour space conversion, scaling and de-interlacing.

        XvMC is where real "video decode" acceleration starts.

        Now, that said, I expect Intel will have XvMC in open source drivers before we do, so carry on
        Last edited by bridgman; 06-29-2008, 10:41 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Basically mpeg2 decode is no problem for current CPUs at all. And XV means that the scaling is accellerated. The real problem is h264, especially inside TS streams. I would like to see accellerated codecs, maybe thru CUDA. Did you notice that somebody implemented a CUDA wrapper for ATI to run Physx? Wouldn't it be nice when ATI developers could just reuse the CUDA software which is already written? All you need to do would be some CUDA wrapper libs which map to the ATI ABI.

          Comment


          • #6
            Choosing the right chipset for a Linux HTPC might be the question of the decade.

            It is not really clear what we can expect from each manufacturer in the NEAR future.

            AMD/Ati UVP support for linux is planned for RV710. In fact I'm not even sure of this. If someone could confirm this ? (bridgman ?).

            If it is confirmed, as RV710 is coming soon (september) it might interesting to wait for it...

            Otherwise, there is the G45 that is currently under test from many windows user (AV forum), but unfortunatley no one under linux ... But I don't expect much for HA under linux currently, as even under windows it is still buggy/draft ...

            I've been waiting for month to build my new HTPC, but it could be delayed until september, or even end of the year ...

            Requirements are:

            - HDMI sound support (not requesting bitstreaming/PAVP, but at least raw 8 channels LPCM)

            - Hardware acceleration

            Comment


            • #7
              by hardware acceleration you mean hardware H264 decoding?

              Comment


              • #8
                XvMC for Chrome

                Appariently there is open source XvMC for Chrome,
                but no one ever mentions Chrome. Why? Is there
                something wrong with Chrome I should know about?
                Assume: Xv and XvMC required, gaming is NOT required.

                Comment


                • #9
                  why do you care about xvmc?! its only for mpeg, and any cpu you could possibly acquire through any retail shop today have no problems doing 1080p mpeg2 decoding..

                  if you want your life to be easy, you'll forget decode acceleration, and aim for intel graphics and get a fairly powerful cpu, some E8400 or E8500.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yes I mean H264/VC1 hardware decoding.

                    I'd like to use an E5200 or E7200 max. I think it is some kind of waste to use the CPU to decode, when you have a powerful GPU chip aside.

                    To lower the heat and power consumption, obviously the smallest CPU is the best, so the choosen GPU requires "full" support under linux as well ...

                    The pity is that it seems it won't happen for long ... :'(

                    Dieter: I didn't knew Chroms chipset until you mentioned them. But I S3 Chrome are only for video, so it would not match the requirements audio+video for the perfect htpc. I don't think you can find a motherboard that provide chrome + audio 8ch LPCM / HDMI.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yeah, Via's newer chips are capable of hardware H.264 and mpeg4. Wonder when that'll be fully supported.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by curaga View Post
                        Yeah, Via's newer chips are capable of hardware H.264 and mpeg4. Wonder when that'll be fully supported.
                        look at Harald Welte's Blog
                        http://laforge.gnumonks.org/weblog/

                        -> Fri, 01 Aug 2008
                        ..
                        ..

                        The start is done, but for sure it'll take 'some' time

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          >>> why do you care about xvmc?! its only for mpeg

                          I have a boatload of mpegs.

                          >>> any cpu you could possibly acquire through any retail shop today

                          My CPUs are more than 5 nanoseconds old, but I don't feel like
                          buying a new CPU today. Expensive, and not very "green".

                          GPUs have the hardware needed to decode videos. Using a GPU
                          to decode video uses less power than using a CPU. A nice feature
                          in summer when it is hot. Also lowers the electric bill, and
                          helps the "green" factor. I don't have numbers handy for GPUs,
                          but IIRC some dedicated decoding chips only use something like
                          1-5 Watts, compared to 100-150 Watts for a CPU. I suspect
                          that GPUS are somewhere in between.

                          >>> aim for intel graphics

                          No thanks. Inthell makes buggy products which they do not support
                          properly, and they engage in criminal behavior.

                          >> S3 Chrome are only for video, so it would not match the
                          >> requirements audio+video for the perfect htpc.

                          Huh? What GPU outputs audio?

                          >> I don't think you can find a motherboard that provide chrome + audio
                          >> 8ch LPCM / HDMI.

                          8 channel? 2 is plenty. I can live without HDMI.

                          I was hoping they make PCI/PCIe cards with Chrome and DVI-I + s-video out?
                          I assume that Chrome connected via Ethernet or firewire is too much to
                          hope for.

                          > Via's newer chips are capable of hardware H.264 and mpeg4. Wonder when
                          > that'll be fully supported.

                          VIA and ATI can race for it. First one with great FLOSS video decode
                          support gets a LOT of customers.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Offloading to the GPU for simple mpeg2 decoding is really not worth it. The CPU is more than powerful enough and does *not* require 100W to play back. My HTPC desktop with Celeron E1200 only goes up 10W or so from idle in playback mode (measured by kill a watt) and barely hits 15% usage. GPUs will not make much of a dent in this number.

                            As for Intel making buggy products and criminal activity, I have to call your BS. Intel has an outstanding track record of QC on their chips and their platforms have been humming along in perfect stability for several years in my server room. In contrast, several machines I have built using their competitors' platforms have crashed and burned.

                            I wouldn't buy VIA hardware btw. They are exiting most markets (certainly the chipset one) and IMHO are on the verge of bankruptcy. OSS support will be questionable for a company with limited resources.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              suit yourself, but i can tell you this, mpeg2 decoding can be done in 1080p resolution by _ANY_ cpu which anyone should be using, basically, that means, that my amd64 2ghz singlecore socket 754 can do it.

                              as for saying intel graphics is buggy and unsupported, i think you ought to look at whom actually has support for stuff, and if you are even considering via, then thats just a giant joke compared to intel.

                              if you wanna be able to do highdefinition h264/vc1 you are gonna need to get an E8400+, preferrably E8500/E8600

                              yeah, i know, the multithreading branch of ffmpeg will soon be merged, but who knows how long "soon" is, and well, the extra power doesent hurt.

                              As for intel being criminals, well.. im not sure what specifically you are referring to, being an american company they almost certainly have done various illegal things, but you can bet you ass via has aswell, and furthermore, one thing is whats LEGALLY illegal, and what is legal but atleast as wrong. Via is guilty of various things which OUGHT to be illegal, but simply arent.

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