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Thread: HTPC linux hardware gotchas

  1. #1
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    Default HTPC linux hardware gotchas

    Hi,

    Looking to finish off a HTPC for myself, now I need the key piece.

    I'm looking for a passive (no fan) video card with native HDMI and video/audio that is (fully) linux compatible. So here's a few questions I have for this buying process. Any information is appreciated. Also, pretend there's no budget for this project.

    1. I prefer open source drivers (don't we all?), but will that come at the expense of broken video at 1080p (since nvidia's drivers now have the purevideo stuff that looks really tempting).

    2. What do I need to know about HDMI audio? I know there is some hardware support through ALSA, but it appears to be touch and go. Some of the cards I have found with passive fans thus far don't appear in google searches for linux and ALSA.

    3. HDMI video: What do I need to know about this? At this time, I make the assumption that it's pretty much plug and play; is there anything special I need to know about plugging it up to a TV?

  2. #2
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    Default

    I think your best bet is an RS690 or RS740 IGP, which is fully supported (2D, 3D and video acceleration) by open source drivers and supports HDMI audio with the latest radeonhd drivers.

  3. #3
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    The RS690 has a hard enough time playing SD stuff. It absolutely chokes on HD stuff. If you want a nice solution for HD playback you should be looking at a nvidia 8200 based board that fully supports vdpau and then you can couple that with a low power variant of AMD cpu. Even the lowest sempron has no issues with HD playback on a high bitrate, 1080p x264/vc-1 video.
    Last edited by deanjo; 12-28-2008 at 03:26 PM.

  4. #4
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    Well, in that case, another question is, and based on this article, would it be wise to get a Radeon HD 2600PRO if I could find a passive one, use fgrlx and wait for the open source drivers to improve? Or maybe a Radeon HD 4550?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by deanjo View Post
    The RS690 has a hard enough time playing SD stuff. It absolutely chokes on HD stuff.
    My rs890 handles HD stuff just fine, with the recent anti tearing patch it's in fact perfect.
    That said wheter it has hard time playing this or that is not depending on the card it depends on the CPU.
    If you want a nice solution for HD playback you should be looking at a nvidia 8200
    you totally missed the point he would prefer open drivers ?

    That said Avuton if anything the last thing I would recommend id using fglrx. First it had tearing/ corruption ... then even though they seemed to fix it, it still had small lags every 10 sec on my rs690 ... Fglrx is really like playing russian roullete with each release. They add A and fix B just to break C and D that was working in previous release.

    The choice you have here is :

    a) using a VDPAU + not that good CPU + nvidia binary blob.

    b) if u want open source drivers the CPU should be powerfull because there is no technolgy like VDPAU in the open drivers currently. I think intel IGP would be also good here. Though the big question here is the TV out HDMI support. I really don't know from experience how it works. What I can tell you is my Turion x2 1700 + rs690 has no problem with playing HD content (h.264 mkvs with 1280x720 resolution)

    BTW RS740 is AFAIK not supported by any open driver (by supported I mean 3d, Xv) so it's not good choice.
    Last edited by val-gaav; 12-28-2008 at 08:06 PM.

  6. #6
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    val-gaav, it's actually the 780 which does not have 3d/xv in the open drivers today. The 740 is very similar to a 690 in terms of driver code so if support for something is missing today relative to a 690 it should just need the addition of some device IDs.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by val-gaav View Post
    My rs890 handles HD stuff just fine, with the recent anti tearing patch it's in fact perfect.
    That said wheter it has hard time playing this or that is not depending on the card it depends on the CPU.

    you totally missed the point he would prefer open drivers ?
    No I did not miss that point, preference does not mean exclusively. You did seem to miss his point about 1080p though. Even a lowly 7200GS with blobs runs circles around the 690G for image quality , color and can squeak out 1080p playback on the same cpu that the 690g chokes on (granted you give up hdmi in the case with the 7200GS and use a dvi/spdif combo instead) and it doesn't even use vdpau.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bridgman View Post
    val-gaav, it's actually the 780 which does not have 3d/xv in the open drivers today. The 740 is very similar to a 690 in terms of driver code so if support for something is missing today relative to a 690 it should just need the addition of some device IDs.
    Doh .... naming of AMD cards can really be confusing at times ...

    Quote Originally Posted by deanjo View Post
    No I did not miss that point, preference does not mean exclusively. You did seem to miss his point about 1080p though. Even a lowly 7200GS with blobs runs circles around the 690G for image quality , color and can squeak out 1080p playback on the same cpu that the 690g chokes on (granted you give up hdmi in the case with the 7200GS and use a dvi/spdif combo instead) and it doesn't even use vdpau.
    1080p is not that much bigger then 1280x720 ... Then again as I said all I can tell is that h.264 mkvs with 1280x720 resolution work just fine for me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by val-gaav View Post
    Doh .... naming of AMD cards can really be confusing at times ...


    1080p is not that much bigger then 1280x720 ... Then again as I said all I can tell is that h.264 mkvs with 1280x720 resolution work just fine for me.
    1080p does require a fairly substantial boost in system requirements over 720p especially as the bitrates gets higher. Don't forget your rendering over twice the number of pixels in 1080p (2,073,600 vs 921,600). Try running 1080p at bluray bitrates and you will be greeted with about 5-10 fps on a 690g in linux even with a dual core proc helping out. Even with hardware acceleration in windows, playing a high bitrate source on a 690g such as a bluray will result in dropping of frames.
    Last edited by deanjo; 12-29-2008 at 11:20 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default no support for 23.976fps 24p

    you should know that open source drivers, nvidia and ati as well are not able to enable 24p (24hz or multiple, whatever) on the TV that supports it.
    Proprietary drivers can, and when you have 23.976 frame per seconds videos to display, like almost all movies and tv shows, this is very nice to not have any stutter or judder.

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