CPU Utilization: WMV HD Content
Windows Media Video 9 Acceleration: Microsoft's Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9) HD format was accepted by the SMPTE HD-DVD consortium as a new HD format. The Windows Movie Maker software, which comes bundled with Windows XP, makes it easy for consumers to edit and save their favorite videos. These videos are saved in the .WMV format. Most of today's high-end GPUs include dedicated hardware to accelerate the playback of WMV and WMV-HD content for fluid full frame rate video even on systems with entry-to mid level CPUs. Previous generations of GPUs were not able to support WMV9 decode acceleration, so often times HD WMV9 content would drop frames when being played back on legacy hardware.
To document CPU utilization when playing back WMV HD content, we used the performance monitor built into Windows XP. Using the data provided by performance monitor, we created a log file that sampled the percent of CPU utilization every second, while playing back the 1080p versions of the "MP10 Digital Life" and "The Rules of Attraction" videos available on Microsoft's WMVHD site. The data was then imported into Excel to create the graphs below. The graphs shows the CPU utilization for a GeForce 7800 GT and the All-In-Wonder X1800 XL using Windows Media Player 10, patched using the DXVA update posted on Microsoft's web site (Update Available Here).
|Average CPU Utilization - MP10 Digital Life|
|All-In-Wonder Radeon X1800 XL||38.29%|
|XFX GeForce 7800 GT||40.01%|
|Average CPU Utilization - The Rules of Attraction|
|All-In-Wonder Radeon X1800 XL||39.09%|
|XFX GeForce 7800 GT||36.33%|
While playing the "MP10 Digital Life" video, both cards used a similar amount of CPU resources, with a slight edge going to the All-In-Wonder X1800 XL. The scale titled in favor of the GeForce 7800 GT, however, when playing back the "Rules of Attraction" trailer. Notice the excessive peaks and valleys when using the 7800 GT, though. This video has portions of high-speed action, mixed in with some blank black frames and multiple video boxes. The All-In-Wonder seemed the maintain a similar level of CPU utilization throughout, while the 7800 GT used much more, or much fewer CPU resources depending on the type of video. And it seems the Radeon and GeForce each offloaded portions of the video differently, as is evident by their opposing nature of the peaks and valleys in the graph.