Unified Video Decoder
|This article is outdated. (November 2014)|
Unified Video Decoder (UVD), previously called Universal Video Decoder, is the name given to AMD's dedicated video decoding ASIC. There are multiple versions implementing a multitude of video codecs, such as H.264 and VC-1.
UVD was introduced with the Radeon HD 2000 Series and is integrated into some of the AMD GPUs and APUs. UVD occupies a considerable amount of the die surface and is not to be confused with AMD's Video Codec Engine (VCE).
The UVD is based on an ATI Xilleon video processor, which is incorporated onto the same die as the GPU and is part of the ATI Avivo HD for hardware video decoding, along with the Advanced Video Processor (AVP). UVD, as stated by AMD, handles decoding of H.264/AVC, and VC-1 video codecs entirely in hardware.
In early versions of UVD, video post-processing is passed to the pixel shaders and OpenCL kernels. MPEG-2 decoding is not performed within UVD, but in the shader processors. The decoder meets the performance and profile requirements of Blu-ray and HD DVD, decoding H.264 bitstreams up to a bitrate of 40 Mbit/s. It has context-adaptive binary arithmetic coding (CABAC) support for H.264/AVC.
Unlike video acceleration blocks in previous generation GPUs, which demanded considerable host-CPU involvement, UVD offloads the entire video-decoder process for VC-1 and H.264 except for video post-processing, which is offloaded to the shaders. MPEG-2 decode is also supported, but the bitstream/entropy decode is not performed for MPEG-2 video in hardware. Previously, neither ATI Radeon R520 series' ATI Avivo nor NVidia Geforce 7 series' PureVideo assisted front-end bitstream/entropy decompression in VC-1 and H.264 - the host CPU performed this work. UVD handles VLC/CAVLC/CABAC, frequency transform, pixel prediction and inloop deblocking, but passes the post processing to the shaders. Post-processing includes denoising, de-interlacing, and scaling/resizing. AMD has also stated that the UVD component being incorporated into the GPU core only occupies 4.7 mm² in area on 65 nm fabrication process node.
The UVD saw a refresh with the release of the Radeon HD 4000 series products. The UVD 2 features full bitstream decoding of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, VC-1, as well as iDCT level acceleration of MPEG2 video streams. Performance improvements allow dual video stream decoding and Picture-in-Picture mode. This makes UVD2 full BD-Live compliant.
The UVD 2.2 features a re-designed local memory interface and enhances the compatibility with MPEG2/H.264/VC-1 videos. However, it was marketed under the same alias as "UVD 2 Enhanced" as the "special core-logic, available in RV770 and RV730 series of GPUs, for hardware decoding of MPEG2, H.264 and VC-1 video with dual-stream decoding". The nature of UVD 2.2 being an incremental update to the UVD 2 can be accounted for this move.
UVD 3 adds support for additional hardware MPEG2 decoding (entropy decode), DivX and Xvid via MPEG-4 Part 2 decoding (entropy decode, inverse transform, motion compensation) and Blu-ray 3D via MVC (entropy decode, inverse transform, motion compensation, in-loop deblocking). along with 120 Hz stereo 3D support, and is optimized to utilize less CPU processing power.
UVD 3 also adds support for Blu-ray 3D stereoscopic displays.
UVD 5 was introduced with the AMD Radeon R9 285.
UVD 6.0 will be used by upcoming AMD Radeon Rx 300 Series (Pirate Islands GPU family) and AMD Radeon Rx 400 Series (Artic Islands GPU family). Using and Video Codec Engine 3.1 (VCE 3.1) technologies, featuring a new high-quality scaling for video. No news yet about High Efficiency Video Coding (aka. HEVC, H.265) or VP9 codec support.
The UVD-version of "Carizzo" is to have HEVC support.
Most of the Radeon HD 2000 series video cards implement the UVD for hardware decoding of 1080p high definition contents. However, the Radeon HD 2900 series video cards do not include the UVD (though it is able to provide partial functionality through the use of its shaders), which was incorrectly stated to be present on the product pages and package boxes of the add-in partners' products before the launch of the Radeon HD 2900 XT, either stating the card as featuring ATI Avivo HD or explicitly UVD, which only the former statement of ATI Avivo HD is correct. The exclusion of UVD was also confirmed by AMD officials.
|Llano||Trinity||Richland||Kabini & Temash
|Kaveri||Beema & Mullins
|Released||Jan 2011||Aug 2011||Oct 2012||2013||May 2013||Jan 2014||Q2 2014||2015||May 2015|
|Fab (nm)||TSMC 40 nm||GlobalFoundries 32 nm SOI||28||28||28||28||28|
|CPU cores||Bobcat||AMD 10h||Piledriver||Jaguar||Steamroller||Puma||Excavator||Puma+|
|TeraScale 2 (VLIW5)||TeraScale 3 (VLIW4)||Graphics Core Next (Mantle, HSA)|
|Unified Video Decoder||UVD 3||UVD 4||UVD 4.2||TBA||TBA|
|Video Codec Engine||N/A||VCE 1.0||VCE 2.0||TBA||TBA|
|Max. № of displays2||2||2–3||2–4||2||2–4||2||TBA||TBA|
|Direct Rendering Manager/
Mesa 3D driver
- 1 Unified shaders : Texture mapping units : Render output units
- 2 To feed more than two displays, the additional panels must have native DisplayPort support. Alternatively active DisplayPort-to-DVI/HDMI/VGA adapters can be employed
|Engineering Name||Marketing Name||UVD Version|
|Cayman||Radeоn HD 6900 Series||UVD 3|
|Barts||Radeоn HD 6800 Series||UVD 3|
|Turks||Radeоn HD 6500/6600/7500/7600 Series||UVD 3|
|Sumo||Radeоn HD 6500 Series||UVD 3|
|Caicos||Radeоn HD 6400 Series||UVD 3|
|Palm||Radeоn HD 6300 Series||UVD 3|
|-||Radeоn HD 6200 Series||UVD 3|
|Radeоn HD 5900 Series
Radeon HD 5800 Series
|Juniper||Radeоn HD 5700/6700 Series||UVD 2.2|
|Redwood||Radeоn HD 5600/5500 Series||UVD 2.2|
|Cedar||Radeоn HD 5400 Series||UVD 2.2|
|RV790||Radeon HD 4890 Series||UVD 2.1|
|Radeon HD 4800 X2 Series
Radeon HD 4800 Series
|RV740||Radeon HD 4700 Series||UVD 2.2|
|RV730||Radeon HD 4600 Series||UVD 2.2|
|RV710||Radeon HD 4300/4500 Series||UVD 2.2|
|RV670||Radeon HD 3800 Series||UVD+|
|RV635||Radeon HD 3600 Series||UVD+|
|RV620||Radeon HD 3400 Series||UVD+|
|RV630||Radeon HD 2600 Series||UVD|
|RV610||Radeon HD 2400 Series||UVD|
|RS880||Radeon HD 4200/AMD 785G Chipset||UVD 2.0|
|Radeon HD 3200/AMD 780G Chipset
Radeon HD 3300 IGP/AMD 790GX Chipset
|M98||Mobility Radeon HD 4800 Series||UVD 2|
|M96||Mobility Radeon HD 4600 Series||UVD 2|
|M92||Mobility Radeon HD 4300/4500 Series||UVD 2.2|
|M88||Mobility Radeon HD 3800 Series||UVD+|
|M86||Mobility Radeon HD 3600 Series||UVD+|
|M82||Mobility Radeon HD 3400 Series||UVD+|
|M76||Mobility Radeon HD 2600 Series||UVD|
|M72||Mobility Radeon HD 2400 Series||UVD|
|M71||Mobility Radeon HD 2300 Series||UVD|
Operating system support
The UVD SIP core needs to be supported by the device driver, which provides one or more interfaces such as VDPAU, VAAPI or DXVA. One of these interfaces is then used by end-user software, for example VLC media player or GStreamer, to access the UVD hardware and make use of it.
AMD Catalyst, AMD's proprietary graphics device driver that supports UVD, is available for Microsoft Windows and some Linux distributions. Additionally, a free device driver is available, which also supports the UVD hardware.
Support for UVD has been available in AMD's proprietary driver Catalyst version 8.10 since October 2008 through X-Video Motion Compensation (XvMC) or X-Video Bitstream Acceleration (XvBA). Since April 2013, UVD is supported by the free and open-source "radeon" device driver through Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix (VDPAU). An implementation of VDPAU is available as Gallium3D state tracker in Mesa 3D.
Windows supported UVD since it was launched. UVD currently only supports DXVA (DirectX Video Acceleration) API specification for the Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 platforms to allow video decoding to be hardware accelerated, thus the media player software also has to support DXVA to be able to utilize UVD hardware acceleration.
- Video Codec Engine – AMD's hardware decoder and encoder (codec transcoder), first introduced end of 2011 with Radeon HD 7900.
- Bit stream decoder (BSD)
- Comparison of AMD graphics processing units
- DirectX Video Acceleration (DxVA) – Microsoft's hardware acceleration API for Microsoft Windows based operating-system.
- Nvidia PureVideo – the bit-stream technology from NVIDIA used in their graphics chips to accelerate video decoding.
- Video Acceleration API (VA API) – an alternative video acceleration API to XvBA for Linux/UNIX operating-system that supports XvBA as a backend
- VDPAU (Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix) from NVIDIA
- X-Video Bitstream Acceleration (XvBA) – AMD's future hardware acceleration API for Linux/UNIX operating-system.
- Dual-GPU variants with two of the latter GPUs.
- Driver version 8.371 or later must be used if the GPU is "Mobility Radeon HD 2300" for enabling UVD functions for H.264 videos, or system may crash.
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Since deinterlacing and other AVIVO post-processing actions are done by the shader hardware, the limited shading capabilities of these cards meant that AMD couldn’t offer the full suite of AVIVO abilities at once.
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- White Paper | AMD Unified Video Decoder (UVD)
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- ATI Avivo(TM) HD Technology Brief, July 2008
- Presentation slides comparison between CPU decode, ATI Avivo HD and PureVideo HD and Decode comparison of VC-1 and H.264 video
- AMD Media Codecs—optional download