The Case of the Vanishing Feature

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nVidia’s response to the dispute over 6800 is really a test to see how functionally literate you are about the product in question.

Their official response is (bold italics nVidia, plain text, our comments):

“The GeForce 6800 models featured the 1st generation of our programmable video technology which includes support for high-definition MPEG2 video decode and standard definition MPEG2 encode, as well as advanced post processing features such as motion adaptive deinterlacing, and inverse 3:2 pulldown.”

Under these circumstances, when anyone starts a lot of items that are there, one ought to look for any items that ought to be or used to be included to see if they’ve gone MIA. Like Sherlock Holmes, you have to look for the dog that doesn’t bark. In this particular case, that dog is hardware acceleration for high-definition Windows Media Video, which was included as part of the 6800’s promotional literature.

The view then gets cloudier . . . .

“The GeForce 6600 models have the same 1st generation programmable video technology support as the GeForce 6800 models. However, the GeForce 6600 models also include hardware acceleration for high-definition Windows Media Video (WMV) decode.”

If you say Product B has the same things as Product A, plus something else, that means Product A doesn’t have the “something else.” Here, it is “hardware acceleration for high-definition Windows Media Video (WMV) decode.” So the 6600 has it, but the 6800 doesn’t, even though the 6800s were advertised as having it.

“In order to utilize the programmable decode and advanced post processing features of the GeForce 6800 and 6600, end users need to download an updated ForceWare driver as well as the NVIDIA DVD decoder.”

In other words, to get any of this advanced stuff working at all, you’ll have to get this future driver AND this DVD decoder.

“Both the ForceWare driver and NVIDIA’s DVD decoder will be available for download from NVIDIA.com by the end of November. For Windows Media Video decode on the GeForce 6600 models, end users will also need to download an update to Windows Media Player from Microsoft.”

Please note what isn’t there when nVidia talks about Windows Media Video. There’s no mention of the 6800. Only the 6600 gets mentioned.

Please also note that we’re talking about hardware acceleration of WMV. It’s not that a computer with a 6800 can’t handle WMV, now or later, what happens is that the CPU will have to do the work in software (a sizable burden).

Conclusion

nVidia’s statement says that there is only hardware acceleration for high definition WMV with the 6600, not the 6800. If you’re at all interested in watching video on your computer, you probably don’t want to buy a 6800 for that purpose.

If you already bought the card for this feature (a feature apparently advertised originally on video card websites and on the boxes themselves), you have a problem.

More as this story develops.

Ed

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