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Upscale DVD movies to HD resolutions with your GPU

Upscale DVD movies to HD resolutions with your GPU

As well as upscaling DVD movies, SimHD also sharpens and enhances the picture.

If you’ve bought an HDTV, but the thought of replacing all your DVDs with Blu-Ray discs is making your bank account weep in anticipation, then help may be at hand via a new GPGPU plug-in from ArcSoft. Called SimHD, the software uses an Nvidia GPU’s stream processors to upscale standard DVD movies to up to 1,920 x 1,080, while also sharpening and enhancing the picture with vivid colours.

To use the plug-in, you’ll need a copy of ArcSoft’s TotalMedia Theatre media playback software (version 2.1.6.129 or above) and a CUDA-compatible GPU with sufficient horsepower. ArcSoft says that you’ll need a GeForce 8600 GT to upscale video to 1,280 x 720, while a GeForce 8800 GTS or 9600 GT will enable you to upscale your movies to 1,920 x 1,080.

The software allows you to upscale your movies to a variety of resolutions, including the industry-standard 720p and 1080p configurations used in HDTVs, as well as 1,440 x 960. The SimHD plug-in currently exclusively works with Nvidia’s CUDA-compatible GPUs, but interestingly ArcSoft says that there is “other support to come soon”, implying that the software may support ATI GPUs via Stream or OpenCL in the future.

In the meantime, however, this is an Nvidia-only feature, and Nvidia currently insists that its GPUs are the only processors that can process SimHD’s intensive post processing algorithms in real time. According to ArcSoft, the software’s use of Nvidia’s CUDA technology means that it only uses 15 per cent of your CPU resources during upscaling tasks, leaving your CPU free to handle anything else.

Nvidia’s general manager of visual computing solutions, Michael Steele, described the plug-in as “a great way to upgrade your existing library of DVDs! All you need is TotalMedia Theatre and an Nvidia GeForce GPU, and you can instantly turn your movies into near-HD quality.” Steele also added that “ArcSoft SimHD is another great example of how GPU computing is changing the world and providing consumers with real value.”

The SimHD plug-in has an RRP of $19.95 US (£13.71) and can be downloaded from ArcSoft’s website, where you can also buy the plug-in bundled with Total Media Theatre 3 for $89.99 US (£61.75). Bearing in mind that you need ArcSoft’s TotalMedia Theatre software in order to run SimHD, would you be interested in using your GPU to upscale and enhance the picture from DVD movies, or would you rather buy genuine HD movie discs? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

30 Comments

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Bauul 2nd April 2009, 14:21 Quote
I imagine this kind of thing will become very common, very quickly. If you wait for a bit, I guarantee there will be something better and cheaper just around the corner. Very cool, and practical, use of the technology though.
badders 2nd April 2009, 14:35 Quote
For £61.75? I'll sit back a bit further, and squint if I need to.
p3n 2nd April 2009, 14:40 Quote
This product assumes people play DVDs from a PC? Everyone else already has an upscaling DVD player/360/ps3 - dumb!
Phil Rhodes 2nd April 2009, 15:08 Quote
This is drivel. You're scaling DVDs to HD resolution on the GPU any time you hit " fullscreen".

The "sharpens and enhances" stuff is old news - it'll be another set of appalling convolution kernels and oversaturated unpleasantness that does nothing but bring out noise.
bogie170 2nd April 2009, 15:16 Quote
So is there anything similar for my ATI 4870X2?
proxess 2nd April 2009, 15:17 Quote
VLC with GPU rendering does this kind of stuff all the time.
Major 2nd April 2009, 15:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
This is drivel. You're scaling DVDs to HD resolution on the GPU any time you hit " fullscreen".

The "sharpens and enhances" stuff is old news - it'll be another set of appalling convolution kernels and oversaturated unpleasantness that does nothing but bring out noise.

Why is everyone so bloody negative with new tech/ideas at the moment?
Quote:
April 13th: Nvidia reveals a PC that will play Crysis at 200FPS at 1600x1200 for only £800

1st Comment: It's just some old hardware being overclocked higher than anything done before, it's been done before, it's nothing new, all it will do is lower the graphics and somehow make the game look as good as it did on Maximum level, very crap idea imo, they need to release better hardware.
amacieli 2nd April 2009, 15:40 Quote
1st Comment: It's just some old hardware being overclocked higher than anything done before, it's been done before, it's nothing new, all it will do is lower the graphics and somehow make the game look as good as it did on Maximum level, very crap idea imo, they need to release better hardware.

Why is everyone so bloody negative with new tech/ideas at the moment?
phuzz 2nd April 2009, 16:03 Quote
We've got a cheap blue-ray player that does upscaling and the results are really worth it. I don't know what kind of magic pixie dust it sprinkles on the pixels but the output looks bloody amazing, almost as good as blu-ray (but cheaper!).
As pointed out above, I'll be using VLC to do the same on my computer.
mp3manager 2nd April 2009, 16:04 Quote
'.....sharpening and enhancing the picture with vivid colours....'

So edge enhancement and other nasty artifacts all over the place.
'Vivid colours'? How about realistic colours.

Oh and good luck getting your GPU to upscale lossy audio to the HD lossless codecs.
Major 2nd April 2009, 16:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzz
We've got a cheap blue-ray player that does upscaling and the results are really worth it. I don't know what kind of magic pixie dust it sprinkles on the pixels but the output looks bloody amazing, almost as good as blu-ray (but cheaper!).
As pointed out above, I'll be using VLC to do the same on my computer.

Yes, it also works great on the PS3.
wuyanxu 2nd April 2009, 16:08 Quote
i thought ATI already got something similar for free?
DarkLord7854 2nd April 2009, 16:11 Quote
Ahh but does it do it for playing back video files? :(
yakyb 2nd April 2009, 16:47 Quote
doesn't ffdshow do this already?
Joeymac 2nd April 2009, 17:42 Quote
Yes ffdshow does this already... you just have to tinker with it.

This is a total scam. That picture on the article with massive blocks around the super clear section is all you need to look at to know this company has no interest in showing the true merits of whatever results they think they have. Nvidia and ATI's results using the default driver and a fairly decent media player, like "MPC Home cinema" are already pretty much the best you can get DVD to look.
pimlicosound 2nd April 2009, 18:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Major
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzz
We've got a cheap blue-ray player that does upscaling and the results are really worth it. I don't know what kind of magic pixie dust it sprinkles on the pixels but the output looks bloody amazing, almost as good as blu-ray (but cheaper!).
As pointed out above, I'll be using VLC to do the same on my computer.

Yes, it also works great on the PS3.

I was hoping for an improvement when I got a PS3, but it turns out my TV is already so good at upscaling SD video that there's no difference at all. Oh well. I suppose it makes me feel good that I chose an excellent TV.
Doden 2nd April 2009, 18:23 Quote
Looks like the algorithms commonly used with ScummVM and emulators.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Eagle
Major 2nd April 2009, 18:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pimlicosound
I was hoping for an improvement when I got a PS3, but it turns out my TV is already so good at upscaling SD video that there's no difference at all. Oh well. I suppose it makes me feel good that I chose an excellent TV.

You sure?

I have a Sony 40" FullHD, and the difference was pretty big.

You have Upscale selected in options? It's turned off by defult.
pendragon 2nd April 2009, 19:00 Quote
this would be cool, for me, if it worked.. as I only watch DVDs on my PC .. will have to look into it more
BioSniper 2nd April 2009, 19:31 Quote
I actually find the up-scale in the PS3 to be utterly horrible so I turn it off and let the TV do the work instead. It's far better.
HourBeforeDawn 2nd April 2009, 21:02 Quote
I thought all DVD playing software upscales movies on your computer anyways?
cyrilthefish 2nd April 2009, 21:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HourBeforeDawn
I thought all DVD playing software upscales movies on your computer anyways?
Not really.

Media player and VLC don't at least.

May have to look into different player software soon though, DVD's looked fine on a 17" LCD monitor, but they can look decidedly dodgy on a 24" 1920x1200 res one though
TreeDude 2nd April 2009, 22:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrilthefish
Quote:
Originally Posted by HourBeforeDawn
I thought all DVD playing software upscales movies on your computer anyways?
Not really.

Media player and VLC don't at least.

May have to look into different player software soon though, DVD's looked fine on a 17" LCD monitor, but they can look decidedly dodgy on a 24" 1920x1200 res one though

Technically if your PC is outputting 1080p (or any other resolution other than 480p) then it is upscaling the DVD. How well it does it is up to your hardware/software.

My Radeon 3870 and MPC:HC do a fine job on my 42" Toshiba 42RV535U. My Xbox 360 looks like crap in comparison. I do run into the occasional DVD that dislikes my PC, so I am forced to use my Xbox but it has only happened a few times. I doubt this software would make a huge difference, and if it does then it is only a matter of time before the same techniques hit an open source media player.
thehippoz 2nd April 2009, 22:55 Quote
XD "In the meantime, however, this is an Nvidia-only feature, and Nvidia currently insists that its GPUs are the only processors that can process SimHD’s intensive post processing algorithms in real time."

it better be awesome with the epeen swinging around and suki suki dreams this pr guy has.. I'm pretty sure this will be done outside of cuda soon- anyways anyone give it a try? I would use it if it's good- that picture sure doesn't look that great on bit's article
Mentai 2nd April 2009, 23:55 Quote
I really want to try this but dont want to pay for a huge disapointment. HMMM.
I'm actually pretty happy with how dvds look on my 1080p 22" anyway. When I sit right back it might as well be HD.
Anakha 3rd April 2009, 00:18 Quote
MPC does an excellent job of this with it's EVR renderer anyway. Bicubic scaling using v2.0 pixel shaders looks pretty awesome to me, and about as good as you're going to get (Bicubic is the algorithm that Photoshop uses). Most other players rely on the video card's internal scaling, which is typically bilinear or trilinear (If you're lucky).
Lazarus Dark 3rd April 2009, 00:45 Quote
I got got SimHD this morning (already had TMT3 for a couple days now).
I have been using the Nvidia DVD Decoder with WMP10/11 for a couple years now and no other software compares in my opinion. SimHD I wouldn't say looks better, but it looks different. While the Nvidia DVD decoder looks soft and natural, SimHD looks harsh and the colors are sortof hyper-real. SimHD does look sharper and more detailed, and in fact I might even say it looks close to some of the crappier Bluray transfers; it has kindof a film-grain look (as opposed to the swirls and artifacts I'm used to with scaling) like Bluray movies from the 60's/70's or like a cheap art house theater where the film print has been circulating the country for several months. In A/B comparison, Nvidia DVD decoder looks blurry and soft and lacking detail, SimHD looks sharp and detailed, but this really brings out a harsh grainy look.

So, it's kindof a tossup for me. Either one is watchable, and I could get used to SimHD, but I can't say it's better, just different.
Aragon Speed 3rd April 2009, 03:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Major
Why is everyone so bloody negative with new tech/ideas at the moment?
Because we are all sick and tired of the hyperbole drivel about how great every new product is, until you buy it and get it home to find out you have been ripped off yet again with a pack of marketing lies.

Call it cynical if you like, but it gets harder and harder to believe what we are being told until we have actually seen it with our own eyes doing exactly what it claims to do.

And in the current economic climate, we are all more aware than ever how much a bad purchase (to give another managing director another swimming pool to sit around) is gong to hurt our pocket. When it could have been spent on something that's actually worth while. Like food, heating, a roof over our heads...
Burnout21 3rd April 2009, 15:27 Quote
Is there an opensource app, with a good step by step guide on how to upscale DVD's to 1920x1200 nicely.

I noticed the other day when watching a DVD that the quality was i little off.

The software must be 100% easy, so that even a 3 year old could slap a DVD in and watch it upscaled. Because my partner watches DVD's on my PC when i go out to meet my boss. (working from home) or when i am travelling once in a blue moon.

I also hate hassle of changing settings. i just want something that works perfectly much like my powerDVD software which is stupidly out of date now. lol!
edzieba 3rd April 2009, 17:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Major
Why is everyone so bloody negative with new tech/ideas at the moment?
Because this is not a new tech/idea. Magical pixie-dust-powered upscalers have been hawked for years, and NEVER deliver. It all boils down to a basic sharpening filter till you hit some nasty halos, shoving the vibrance up to painful levels, and adding a blur filter to make everything look 'smooth' (and kill any remaining fine detail). In every case, you'll be better off just using your media players built-in scaler, or a pre-made ffdshow filter profile.
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