X-bit Labs took a few cards from NVIDIA and ATI to see how they accelerate video playback:
Eventually, all graphics cards acquired features necessary to play MPEG-2/DVD easily. But now there have appeared new compression methods that ensure better quality but also require more hardware resources. Coupled with the advancement of HD video content, the ability of the graphics card to decode and play high-definition formats becomes an issue again since software playback of such video may get even the strongest CPU to its knees. So we decided to carry out a comprehensive test of graphics cards from AMD/ATI and Nvidia to check out how much they offload the CPU while playing various video formats, including high-definition ones. We’ll start out with a brief review of technologies implemented in those cards.