Computational GPU Performance
There appear more applications using GPU capacities for performing calculations. Therefore, we decided to check how greatly the performance of applications using CUDA algorithms has improved on the new platform.
For our tests we used two programs. One of them is Badaboom video transcoding utility recommended by Nvidia as the best example of consumer software using the graphics accelerator for its calculations. The second program was a specific utility called IGHASHGPU that is used for recovering (brute-forcing) passwords from their MD5-hashes. It uses shader processors for these calculations.
Although both versions of the ION platform have the same number of shader (CUDA) processors in their graphics cores, the newest platform runs faster. The reasons behind this state of things are exactly the same as in games. GT218 core used in ION2 platform have higher frequencies of the shader domain and also has proprietary video memory that is why there is no need to share the video memory bandwidth with the system CPU.
High-Definition Video Playback
Every time we get to test the CPU utilization during HD video playback, it makes less and less sense. Even in systems without powerful processors, such as nettops with Atom CPUs inside, video decoding may be arranged in the GPU with the help of DXVA or CUDA technologies. Therefore, the only type of systems that cannot handle HD video playback is those Intel Atom based nettops that have a very old Intel graphics accelerator without the additional decoder-chip. Those nettops that are based on the Nvidia ION platform of the previous as well as the latest generations are not among those systems: they cope with hardware HD video decoding impeccably.
In fact, if you are using the latest versions of software players supporting CUDA or DXVA, then Zotac ZBOX HD-ID11 can easily become a perfect media player. This system plays any popular HD video formats with excellent quality – without any frame loss and with low CPU utilization. By the way, ION2 is also supported by popular software mediacenters that turn a regular computer system into a home theater PC, including Boxee, XBMC, MediaPortal and others.
The same is true for the high definition video translated online via Flash-players. Contemporary Flash-player versions know how to use hardware resources of the graphics accelerators to their advantage, therefore ION and ION2 provide maximum image quality for the movies on YouTube.com and other similar sites. The CPU utilization remains very low in this case, and the image quality is simply impeccable.
In other words, while Intel Pine Trail platform still has some problems with the playback of HD video content in 1080p format, the same platform enhanced with Nvidia GT219 graphics chip, can easily pull this off.