Intel blog discusses Centrino 2 graphics performance issues

Intel engineer posts blog discussing performance issues with Centrino 2 graphics silicon.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
3 min read

Update at 11:45 a.m. with additional information about Intel blogger.

Aaron Brezenski, the blogger, states the following in describing his posts: "Aaron Brezenski has been at Intel (Chandler, AZ) since 1995 and has been a product engineer for most of that time. He currently manages a team of product development engineers in STTD, but his nefarious purpose in (Intel Software Network) Blogspace is to highlight Intel Integrated Graphics in the Home Theater PC space from an end-user perspective."

An Intel engineer has posted a discussion about performance issues with its newest Centrino 2 graphics silicon.

HP dv5t series notebook with Intel Centrino 2 graphics
HP dv5t series notebook with Intel Centrino 2 graphics Hewlett-Packard

The blog, posted Thursday, is focused on a critical feature of the latest generation of integrated graphics: the ability to handle high-quality video streams. Intel is the world's largest supplier of graphics silicon because its integrated graphics (which is provided via the chipset not on a separate graphics card) is shipped with tens of millions of PCs every year. (See this Intel Web page that lists "HD video playback with full hardware decode" as a feature.)

In the blog, Aaron Brezenski, an Intel product development engineer, first takes issue with an "AMD Intel Mobile Challenge" video.

"Our competition (Advanced Micro Devices) threw together a demo booth which stated baldly that HP laptops with the (Intel) GM45 (chipset) did not accelerate Blu-ray at all while theirs, naturally, did," he wrote. "It was clearly not an apples-to-apples comparison."

The demonstration compares an HP Pavilion dv5z series notebook using an AMD Turion X2 dual-core mobile processor and ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics silicon with an HP Pavilion dv5t series notebook based on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500. No processor specifics are given.

A person demonstrating the two systems in the video says that "on the Montevina (Centrino 2) system, you'll see the CPU utilization gets pegged up at 95 to 100 percent, where the CPU utilization on the AMD system will be half that." High utilization of the CPU (central processing unit) means that the system will not have the capacity to do other tasks in the background (such as a virus check) and may result in jerky, uneven video.

Brezenski states, however, that there were positive results with the Arcsoft Total Media Theater player, according to the blog. "On the plus side, use of the Arcsoft Total Media Theater player yielded immediate results. Blu-ray CPU utilization on a Core 2 Duo was lower than 20% on all material: a clear indication that hardware acceleration is working properly."

Further down in the blog, Brezenski cites testing done by ExtremeTech: "They, too, did not see hardware acceleration on G45 Blu-ray playback," he writes. However, "they updated this a couple of days later with a correction...showing the acceleration working now, but a less-than-stellar benchmark (the only one they ran) remains: on the HD HQV test, Intel scored a paltry 30 out of 100." HD HQV stands for high-definition Hollywood quality video.

The blog continues: "While I question the value of some of the HD HQV tests when evaluating Blu-ray (a topic for another time), they are in fact valid tests. My sources...tell me that Intel's less than stellar scores are due to a player software issue: properly configured advanced de-interlacing will result in scores 20+ points higher. Still not perfect scores, but coming within the realm of workable, and my hope is that subsequent driver tweaks will improve this even further," he writes.

Other issues addressed include the fact that current G965 and G35 (pre-Centrino 2 integrated graphics) "suffered from stuttering every 15 seconds or so at 24 Hz display refresh rate on Blu-ray...(and) the issue is still there on G45 (Centrino 2)."

Regarding an issue with HDCP (High-Definition Content Protection) TV, the blog states that the end user sees "our competition's graphics working flawlessly with their software player on their shiny new Onkyo or Yamaha receiver, and Intel's failing."