NVIDIA's VDPAU Driver, Version 180.16 – Hardware Acceleration for HD content (H.264) with major improvements.

I’ve just downloaded the latest NVIDIA 180.16 driver from 12th December, 2008 and tested it.

Follow the intructions here if you like to install NVIDIA’s Beta driver on a Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex).

NVIDIA writes in the mplayer’s README.txt:



* Cater for modified vdp_decoder_create API.
* For H.264, request enough references to handle level 4.1 streams.
* Fix MPEG quantizer matrices passed to VDPAU. Should fix MPEG
quality issues. Thanks to the MythTV community for the patch.
* Implemented OSD compositing.
* Correctly handle H.264 long-term reference IDs in the DPB.
* Incorporated some libavcodec changes from the MythTV patches.
* Various cleanups based on feedback on ffmpeg/MPlayer mailing lists.

Well – I don’t understand every word of it, exactly speaking not much of it, but what I know for sure is, that AVCHD (.mts) content from my Canon HF100 is being played back flawlessly now. Wow – thanks guys!

I’ve also tested the new driver against a Matroska (.mkv) sample, and with TwinView enabled. Here are my results:

  • Sync to VBlank is still being ignored -> Tearing
  • Matroska (.mkv) content plays back now, but is jerky (jitter/stutter?)
  • TwinView enabled gives still crashes. Here are the last three lines of mplayer, when I try to play back a Matroska 1920×800 sample:
    Movie-Aspect is 2.40:1 - prescaling to correct movie aspect.
    VO: [vdpau] 1920x800 => 1920x800 H.264 HIGH VDPAU acceleration
    Error 23 at libvo/vo_vdpau.c:441

Interesting to see, that the x264 encoder was disabled in the ./configure statement in the checkout-patch-build.sh file:

./configure --disable-x264-lavc --disable-x264 --enable-vdpau

This fits to my experiences with the previous releases, where an enabled x264 encoder produced only compilation errors. But for what exactly reason x264 encoder is disabled, I don’t know. But nice to see, we’ve got now a new switch for the the VDPAU video output: --enable-vdpau.


This driver is a big step forward. First of all AVCHD plays nicely now with the new driver, and second, Matroska doesn’t crash anymore, although it’s still not usable right now, because of the jerky playback. Anyway – a big thanks goes out to the MythTV team, who helped a lot to get there, where we’re now.

Release history of the the NVIDIA Beta drivers for H.264 hardware acceleration:

  • 180.06 – 2008-11-14 – (tested – read here)
  • 180.08 – 2008-11-18 – (not tested)
  • 180.11 – 2008-12-02 – (tested – read here)
  • 180.16 – 2008-12-12 – (this article)

2 thoughts on “NVIDIA's VDPAU Driver, Version 180.16 – Hardware Acceleration for HD content (H.264) with major improvements.

  1. Thank you for the info. I have tried the vdpau acceleration. But I can playback a FullHD content without vdpau without any problems and a power consumption of 30-33Watt (max. 35Watt).
    There are many problems with the vdpau implementation, especially while streaming full hd content. And the power consumption is at 33-36Watt (max 37Watt).
    Removing the bugs from the nvidia driver, instead of adding new features, would bring more benefits for the most uses.

    NVIDIA should open their documentation and keep their alpha crap. I have tested 180.22.

  2. @ego
    This is an interesting point of view, regarding the power consumption of a system, instead of looking at the top command. Also your 30-33 Watt are extremely low.
    Last week I’ve built a system with an AMD 5050E (2,6GHz), which consumes 38W while idle, this processor is the the lowest possible processor, which is capable of handling FullHD content w/o significant framedrops.
    I honestly doubt you can play back the notorious BBC ‘million birds flying over water’ sequence from the sequel ‘Earth’ without framedrops w/o hardware acceleration.

    Anyway, impressive power consumption!

    Thanks for your post.

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