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Nvidia ION Mini-ITX Boards & Media Playback

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  • Nvidia ION Mini-ITX Boards & Media Playback

    Looking at swapping the HTPC setup (Phenom X3, MiniATX) for a passively cooled Mini-ITX setup with an Atom/Ion board from Zotac that has an N330 atom and m9400 GPU from nvidia.

    Looking around, it seems like you can play back Blu-Ray 1080i/p with the right drivers, but how would it go with upscaling DivX/Xvid/H.264 content or playing back .ts files dumped from recording 1080i TV Broadcasts?

    The verdict seems to be that you need a very specific driver/codec/player combination for most, and not to even attempt HD playback on the N230 single core models.

    Does anyone have experience with these low-power boards and media playback?
    I'm hoping to use mediaportal, as that's what's on the HTPC currently, but will change if there are better options for the Atom/Ion combo...
    Last edited by Jonchilds; 17-08-2009, 04:10 PM.

  • #2
    I use 2 low power machines for media playback.
    One is the xbox, it handles everything up to 720p without a hitch.

    The other is an old single core athlon with a 280GTX in it.
    Using the "balanced cuda processing" option with Core AVC sees it playing back 1080p without a hitch.
    If the ion has a cuda capable gpu it might be able to handle 1080p quite well...
    "In all the human societies we have ever reviewed, in every age and in every state, there has seldom if ever been a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots." -The Culture

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    • #3
      The 9400 is a 16SP device running at 450/1100Mhz. It is CUDA capable, similar to the 8400GS desktop cards.

      Reviews all said that BD 1080i/p went ok as long as you used DXVA capable programs, otherwise you'd start to stutter in high bit rate segments. Would low-res (576i) .ts recordings be likely to play ok without hardware decoding?

      The idea for this machine is to be a media-centre PC/torrent box/file server running Win7 (when out, but XP until the 3-license family packs come out).

      Maybe I'm not asking the right question - does mediaportal have DXVA/hardware decoding options for XVix/DivX/H.264 and MPEG2.ts?

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      • #4
        My solution for decoding XVix/DivX/H.264 and MPEG2.ts is the following:

        Windows Vista or 7 with Media portal and the following two codecs/softs only:
        FFDSHOW for all of your (AVI variants)
        Haali Media Splitter (for MKV files)
        If you can... you MUST!

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        • #5
          Correct me if I'm wrong here Klink, but isn't that just going to result in FFDSHOW doing all your decoding? Don't get me wrong, it's an awesome package, but using it for 1080p decoding is going to require a top of the line dual core/quad core behemoth.

          Core AVC does the same job with a fraction of the cpu load.

          My laptop can readily handle 1080p h.264 using it and its relevant stats are:

          Turion MT-40 @ 2.2 Ghz
          2 GB DDR Ram
          2 x 250Gb 7200 rpm drive in raid0
          "In all the human societies we have ever reviewed, in every age and in every state, there has seldom if ever been a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots." -The Culture

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          • #6
            Might have to play around with codecs on my HTPC at the moment and see what formats /codecs mediaportal can't use with DXVA, although I'm stuck with VMR9 instead of EVR until I get Vista/7.

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            • #7
              Managed to find some codecs that direct everything through DXVA where possible - getting 20-30% use on a single core (Phenom 2.1Ghz 8450) using the Media Player Classic decoder to play a 1080p mkv. I was seeing 70-80% on a single core use using the default MediaPortal codec.

              Standard Avi/H.264 seems to play ok through the Default/DivX codecs - seeing 20-30% use on a single core.

              Apparently the dual core atoms will handle anything you throw at them when paired with a Nvidia chipset.

              This is the ion board I'm looking at here. Put it in a nice case with a few 1TB drives attached via USB and it'd make a great little box. TPD for the Ion/Atom combo is less than 25 watts, so heat & noise won't be much of a problem.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Kryzaach View Post
                Correct me if I'm wrong here Klink, but isn't that just going to result in FFDSHOW doing all your decoding? Don't get me wrong, it's an awesome package, but using it for 1080p decoding is going to require a top of the line dual core/quad core behemoth.

                Core AVC does the same job with a fraction of the cpu load.

                My laptop can readily handle 1080p h.264 using it and its relevant stats are:

                Turion MT-40 @ 2.2 Ghz
                2 GB DDR Ram
                2 x 250Gb 7200 rpm drive in raid0
                Ah yes, now I'm with ya. Its a core2duo but a fairly old one.

                I really should learn to read!
                If you can... you MUST!

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