4K VP9, H.265 and H.264 Video Playback in Amlogic S912 M12N TV Box

I’ve received my first Amlogic S912 TV box with MXQ Plus M12N TV box this week-end, and I’ve decided to start testing by showing the media capabilities of the platform that is supposed to support 4K VP9 up to 60Hz, 4K 10-bit H.265 up to 60Hz and 4K H.264 up to 30 Hz.

Amlogic_S912_TV_Box_4K_VP9

I connected the device to Onkyo TX-NR636 A/V recevier itself connected to  LG 42UB820T 4K UHD TV, set video output to 2160p @ 60Hz, and played several 4K video samples from a USB hard drive using the pre-installed version of Kodi 16.1:

  • 4K Hawaii Sunset _ GoPro Hero 4 Black [email protected] (Downloaded from YouTube) – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265 @ 30 fps – No audio) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 (H.264 @ 30 fps – MPEG1/2 and AC3 audio) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 (H.264 @ 60 fps – MPEG1/2 and AC3 audio) – Video a bit choppy, large audio delay. Expected as not supported by Amlogic S912 VPU
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (H.265 Rec.2020 compliant – AAC audio) – OK
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (H.265 @ 60 fps – AC3) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC @ 24 fps – no audio) – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm – OK, although not perfect (some frames seem to be missing, TBC)
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (4K 10-bit H.264 video) – Lots of artifacts. Software decode since the VPU does not support 10-bit h.264

The results are pretty good as the two main “failures” were expected since Amlogic S912 video processing unit (aka hardware video decoder) does not support 10-bit H.264 nor 4K H.264 @ 60 Hz. The Curvature of Earth video was watchable, but I think I’ve seen it play more smoothly on other hardware platforms. I initially started to play over SAMBA, but the Fast Ethernet network performance is not always good enough to play the videos from a SAMBA share, so I reverted to using a USB hard drive.

I’ve also included two extra 720p and 1080p 10-bit H.264 (hi10p) video to check whether the 8 cores would be fast enough for software decoding:

  • [Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv – OK with video, audio, and subtitles
  • [1080p][16_REF_L5.1][mp3_2.0]Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu BD OP.mkv – Subtitles OK, audio may cut from time to time, and video is playing but a bit choppy, and with artifacts at times.

So the processor is not quite fast enough to play 1080p 10-bit H.264 videos despite all eight cores being used at the time of playback.

You can watch all videos above being played in M12N TV box, and download them from comments @ Where to get Video & Audio samples.

I also tested HDMI audio pass-through, but only Dolby and DTS options are available in that version of Kodi, with DTS-HD and TrueHD options missing, and Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1 sometimes playing with audio cut. So that’s yet another TV box shipped without proper audio support. Automatic frame rate switching is not supported either.

Please also note that my sample was sent directly from Shenzhen Shiningworth, the manufacturer of the device, and I’ve been told the launcher will be different on their customers hardware such as ENYBOX X2 or Acemax M12N, with the latter currently being sold on GearBest for $69.99. [Update: Shenzhen Shiningworth M12N is now sold on Aliexpress for $69.99]

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