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NVIDIA Corp.’s highly-advertised programmable video processor of the GeForce 6800-series GPUs will be enabled by the graphics processors designers shortly, when the new drivers for the graphics chip will be released. The company, however, tells that only the GeForce 6600-series will support HD WMV decoding.

“The GeForce 6800 models featured the 1st generation of our programmable video technology which includes support for high-definition MPEG2 video decode and standard definition MPEG2 encode, as well as advanced post processing features such as motion adaptive de-interlacing, and inverse 3:2 pulldown. The GeForce 6600 models have the same 1st generation programmable video technology support as the GeForce 6800 models. However, the GeForce 6600 models also include hardware acceleration for high-definition Windows Media Video (WMV) decode,” said Luciano Alibrandi, a spokesman for NVIDIA Corp..

While NVIDIA now says HD WMV acceleration is only supported by the GeForce 6600-series graphics processing units, X-bit labs has found that at least on some drivers the HDTV acceleration works on the GeForce 6800 GT PCI Express graphics cards. AGP flavour of the GeForce 6800 GT did not provide HDTV hardware decoding on the same driver version.

NVIDIA claims that the GeForce 6 Series GPUs are completely programmable and can handle formats such as WMV9 and MPEG-4 on its web-site. The NVIDIA motion compensation engine can provide decompression acceleration for a variety of video formats including WMV9, MPEG-4, H.264, and DiVX. As with motion compensation for MPEG-2, the NVIDIA video engine can perform most of the computation-intensive work, leaving the easiest work to the CPU.

“In order to utilize the programmable decode and advanced post processing features of the GeForce 6800 and 6600, end users need to download an updated ForceWare driver as well as the NVIDIA DVD decoder. The ForceWare driver will be available shortly on the NVIDIA.com and the NVIDIA’s DVD decoder is already available for download from NVIDIA.com. For Windows Media Video decode on the GeForce 6600 models, end users will also need to download an update to Windows Media Player from Microsoft,” Mr. Alibrandi added.

NVIDIA also said the company was working with application vendors to take advantage of the programmable encode features of the GeForce 6800 and 6600.

“This feature just like programmable pixel shaders when they were first introduced, requires additional collaboration with application vendors. The first application that NVIDIA is targeting to support its GPU encode capabilities is Windows Media Center Edition 2005,” NVIDIA’s spokesman said.

Visual processing units from competing companies, such as ATI Technologies and S3 Graphics, provide MPEG2, MPEG4 and HDTV acceleration as well. It is unclear whether makers of players had to make certain optimizations of their products for ATI’s or S3’s hardware.

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