MSI Radeon HD 6970 Lightning review

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Video acceleration - AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing

Video acceleration post-processed by your GPU

The x.264 format is often synonym with Matroska MKV, a media file container which often embeds that x.264 content, a much admired container format for media files. Especially the 1920x1080P movies often have some form of h.264 encoding dropped within the x.264 format. As a result, you'll need a very beefy PC with powerful processor to be able to playback such movies, error free without frames dropping and nasty stutters as PowerDVD or other PureVideo HD supporting software by itself will not support it.

Any popular file-format (XVID/DIVX/MPEG2/MPEG4/h.264/MKV/VC1/AVC) movie can be played on this little piece of software (MPC HT), without the need to install codecs and filters, and where it can, it will DXVA enable the playback. DXVA is short for Direct X Video Acceleration, and as you can tell from those four words alone, it'll try wherever it can to accelerate content over the GPU, offloading the CPU. Which is what we are after.

There's more to this software though:

  • A much missed feature with NVIDIA's PureVideo and ATI's UVD is the lack of a very simple function, yet massively important, pixel (image) sharpening.

If you watch a movie on a regular monitor, Purevideo playback is brilliant. But if you display the movie on a larger HD TV, you'll quickly wish you could enable little extra's like sharpening. I remember GeForce series 7 having this native supported from within the Forceware drivers. After GeForce series 8 was released, that feature was stripped away, and to date it has to be the most missed HTPC feature ever.

Media Player Classic has yet another advantage, as not only it tries to enable DXVA where possible through the video processor, it also can utilize the shader processors of your graphics cards and use it to post-process content.  A lot of shaders (small pieces of pixel shader code) can be executed within the GPU to enhance the image quality. MCP has this feature built in, you can even select several shaders like image sharpening, de-interlacing, combine them and thus run multiple shaders (enhancement) simultaneously. Fantastic features for high quality content playback.

Here you see MPC HT edition accelerating an x.264 version of a movie @ 1080P. Mind you that the one spike in CPU cycles is me starting up the actual capture software.

The Radeon 6000 series will completely accelerate (DXVA) this movie without any issues. Complex Image sharpening is handled by the shaders processors and we have PC 0-255 Color profile activated over the shaders as well to get nicer black levels. Even if we expand this window to a resolution of 2560x1600 the CPU load will remain low and the graphics card manages that resolution fine.


The GPU is doing all the work as you can see, the h.264 content within the x.264 file container is not even a slight bit accelerated over the CPU. Read more about this feature right here in this article.



ATI Stream

AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) Technology

In the current day and age there is more to graphics cards than just playing games. More and more non-gaming related features can and are being offloaded to the GPU. ATI at first introduced ATI Stream, this is now renamed to AMD Accelerate. This is a software layer that allows software developers to 'speak' with the GPU and have it process data using your graphics card. This really is the most simple & basic description I can give it.

Currently it simply follows and believes strongly in open standards as OpenCL or for the easiest path to add compute capabilities, Microsoft's DirectX 11 DirectCompute. OpenCL is what AMD believes in the most and allows any developer to use code that scales well on both CPUs and GPUs.

To make things a little more clear for the end user, AMD Accelerated will and is used in software like Cyberlink MediaShow and power director, ArcSoft MediaConverter 4, SimHD (upscaling, H.264 encoding), Total media Theatre (HW accelerated MPEG4/MVC ), Roxio Creator 2010, Adobe Photoshop CS4 and so on... where the GPU assists the software in certain functions, offloading the processor.

Of course among it also falls... folding...

Folding@home using the ATI Radeon series 6000 GPU
Folding at home is a project where you can have your GPU or CPU (when the PC is not used) help out solving diseases, folding proteins. Over the past years a lot of progress has been made between the two parties involved. And right now there is a GPU folding client available that works with Radeon series graphics processors. It is ATI Accelerate based, meaning that all Stream/accelerate ready GPUs can start folding.

Guru3D team is ranking in the Folding@Home top 60, yes... I'm very proud of our guys crunching these numbers, especially since there are tens of thousands of other teams. The client is out, if possible please join team Guru3D and let's fold away some nasty stuff. The good thing is, you won't even notice that it's running.

Our Folding@home info can be found here:

Our Guru3D team number is 69411 and if you decide to purchase a 5000 series product, guys, promise me you'll use it to fold for us. By making this move my dear friends, there are now 90 million GPUs available to compute the biggest mysteries in diseases and illnesses. Again, let's make Team Guru3D the biggest one available guys, join our team.

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