Upscale DVD movies to HD resolutions with your GPU

Written by Ben Hardwidge

April 2, 2009 // 1:10 p.m.

Tags: #1080p #720p #arcsoft #ati #cuda #dvd #geforce #gpu #hd #nvidia #opencl #simhd #stream #theatre #totalmedia #upscale

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.

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