VDPAU – The NVIDIA 180.06 beta driver for Linux – or how to play back AVCHD with GPU acceleration

[UPDATE] Read here about the latest development of NVIDIA’s vdpau video output driver: Tag: vdpau
I’ve been waiting for this moment a very long time, and honestly speaking, I didn’t really believe I would play AVCHD content form my Canon HF100 with hardware acceleration on Linux in the next future.

But today I did. Yes!

This is going to be a little HOWTO about installing NVIDIA’s new Beta driver 180.06 on a Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex).

Please consider this is all real Beta stuff, and it’s really not suitable for usage in a productive environment. I had more glitches, than successfull playback attempts, and the developers of NVIDIA don’t claim it’s a bullet prove application, like you can read it in this document:

Known Limitations:
1. Playing some video streams may cause GPU errors and/or hang or
crash the system.
2. The skip forward/backward features are not robust yet and
can cause application or system hangs/crashes.
3. MPlayer OSD or Composite Picture is currently not supported.
4. Problems have been observed when building MPlayer with these
patches using gcc-4.3.2

Anyway – if you see it as a feasibility test, you won’t be disappointed :-)



First of all we need to meet a few preparations. If you’re using TwinView and KWin with visual effect it’ll likely won’t work. Well – it didn’t work for me, unless I turned all this stuff off. That’s why my recommendation is to turn of visual effects, aka compositing in the xorg.conf and also things like Xinerama, Two “seperate X screen“. Deactivate compiz, and use KWin(KDE/4) and Metacity(Gnome) without any visual effects.

If you don’t turn it off, you’ll probably will see a green window and will have a crash of the player. The error will like look like one of these ones:

Error at libvo/vo_vdpau.c:637

or

Error at libvo/vo_vdpau.c:826

or something similar.

My scope is on KDE, and I don’t know right now where to turn off compiz and use Metacity in Gnome. KDE users, who are using compiz, because they don’t like KWin’s visual effects (slow, and boring ;-) ), can switch back to KWin by opening

    System -> System Settings -> Advanced -> Session Manager -> Window Manager

and Select there: KWin (KDE default)

The second step is to replace the installed nvidia-glx driver with the new one. Then we’re going to download all needed parts. After that we compile mplayer and start it.

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15 Responses to “VDPAU – The NVIDIA 180.06 beta driver for Linux – or how to play back AVCHD with GPU acceleration”


  1. Anders Rune Jensen

    “I’ve been waiting for this moment a very long time”

    I’ve been waiting for your review of this ever since nvidia announced it :)

    I havn’t found the list of supported GPU’s before, but just as I suspected it doesn’t look like my onboard nvidia 6400 (I think) is supported. Would be great to find out which onboard cards uses the least amount of power. At least one that can power down the GPU when it is not being used :) I guess would probably would have to go for one of those 9×00 cards to get VC-1 support?

  2. Anders Rune Jensen

    What graphics card did you use for testing? Maybe I skimmed to quickly but couldn’t find it ;-)

  3. acmelab68

    @Anders Rune Jensen
    Hi Anders :-)
    My card is a 8500GT, it’s a quite cheap model, and is being cooled passively. It’s not onboard. In the living-room I’m facing the same situation like you, since there’s an onboard 7025, which wouldn’t work.

  4. Anders Rune Jensen

    I just searched the local hardware dealer and indeed the Geforce 9400 cards are really cheap (~50 euro) and passively cooled, sadly its pci express. It seems like one of the biggest problems except for the stability is the tearing issue. How bad is it? Is it bad enough to make it completely unusable?

  5. acmelab68

    @Anders Rune Jensen
    The whole thing is very very unasable. It’s realy only a feasibility test, nothing else. Tearing is one of many very evil bugs (System freezes and other)
    NVIDIA just wanted to piss into Intel’s and ATI’s garden.
    It’s really not worth to buy any GFX card righ now, only because of the release of 180.06. I thing we’ve got plenty of time.

    Btw: how did you do this thing with your avatar picture?

  6. Anders Rune Jensen

    I used http://www.gravatar.com/. It’s used a lot of places now. I was wondering what wordpress plugin you where using to get this? :)

  7. acmelab68

    @Anders Rune Jensen
    Actually I’m using WP out of the box. Must be a built in feature then

  8. NVIDIA VDPAU 180.11 test against .mts (AVCHD) and .mkv (Matroska/h264) playback - Acmelabs’ Blog

    [...] first beta driver, the 180.06 on the 14th of November. I’ve tested these new Beta driver here, and found a few bugs. I skipped the test of the driver 180.08 published 4 days later, but tested [...]

  9. NVIDIA’s VDPAU version 180.11 hardware acceleration for HD content (H.264) with major improvements. - Acmelabs’ Blog

    [...] the intructions here if you like to install NVIDIA’s Beta driver on a Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid [...]

  10. xine-vdpau - the first contact | Acmelabs' Blog

    [...] used this Nvidia vdpau driver. Version >=180.16 is the minimum version you need. Read here how to install this new Beta driver on a Unbuntu [...]

  11. Kyle Brandt

    I had to do more to get the driver uninstalled, if you get an error after installation in dmesg about an API mismatch look here: http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=125147&page=2

  12. acmelab68

    @Kyle Brandt
    Thanks a lot for the feedback!

  13. VDPAU bug report

    [...] None of the tests listed here play properly: http://blog.mymediasystem.net/avchd/…cceleration/3/ [...]

  14. nande

    really good, but it would have saved me some work if you put the suported list in the begining. damm nvidia¬¬

  15. acmelab68

    @nande
    Hold it! This is very much outdated. All Nvidia cards beginning with 8xxx suppose to work now.
    Please consider the posting date, and please look here at this Blog for a recent VDPAU article.
    The current nvidia drivers do support VDPAU out of the box, and a recent mplayer checkout doesn’t need special treatment anymore.