NVIDIA's hardware H.264 decoding examined
Following the release of beta NVIDIA ForceWare drivers with hardware H.264 support, PCImpact.com (in French, bring a translator) has published an early comparison of NVIDIA and ATI's H.264 video decoding performance. The results are interesting, with the NVIDIA cards averaging 53-73% CPU
usage and the ATI cards taxing the CPU by a much higher 83-85%. At least both implementations use fewer CPU cycles than the software decoder, which averages over 96% CPU utilization in one test.
NVIDIA's new ForceWare drivers will reportedly allow hardware H.264 playback in a variety of applications, including QuickTime 7, Nero Digital, WinDVD 7 Platinum, and PowerDVD 6. None of those programs currently have functional support, although DailyTech reports that a hardware H.264-enabled 30-day evaluation of Nero 7 Ultimate Edition is available to users with GeForce 6 and 7 cards.