Way back in May of 2016 when NVIDIA launched the Pascal architecture powered GeForce GTX 10 series, one of the notable features they announced for the product family was support for Netflix’s newly launched 4K streaming option. At the time no PCs could access the service; due to the tighter DRM requirements imposed by Netflix and its content providers, PCs that wanted to stream 4K Netflix would need to support HDCP 2.2 and Microsoft’s PlayReady 3.0 DRM. Pascal in turn was the first GPU that was released to support the new DRM standards, and while NVIDIA didn’t know exactly when support would launch, the expectation was that it would be sooner than later.

However as the months have ticked by, we never did see any further progress from NVIDIA and Netflix on enabling 4K support. And rather unexpectedly, NVIDIA even ended up being surpassed in the PC space by Intel, who became the first vendor to actually launch 4K Netflix support when it was enabled on their Kaby Lake CPUs back in November.

Now just shy of a year later, NVIDIA and Netflix have finally taken the next step towards launching 4K Netflix support on Pascal. In an article posted on NVIDIA’s customer support portal, the company has (quietly) announced a 4K Netflix technology preview, allowing customers with the right hardware and software configurations to access Netflix’s 4K streams via both Microsoft Edge and the Netflix app.

While the article itself doesn’t offer any real explanation for the delay, the system requirements end up giving us a pretty good hint about what’s going on. Along with the expected hardware requirements – a Pascal-based video card and an HDCP 2.2 monitor – the Netflix preview also requires that users are on a Windows Insider build of Windows 10. The NVIDIA article notes in particular that receiving Insider builds is necessary to get the specific NVIDIA driver version supported – 381.74 – as it’s only being distributed as part of the Insider program.

NVIDIA doesn’t make much mention of the OS itself, but the situation is especially interesting since this comes just weeks after Microsoft launched the Windows 10 Creators Update, their latest major update to the OS. According to Microsoft’s API documentation, several new calls were added to PlayReady in this update. This strongly hints that Windows 10 itself was the piece of the puzzle holding back 4K Netflix support.

Further complicating matters however, with the release of the Creators Update, the Windows Insider program is now in early testing of features that will be going into the next version of Windows 10, codenamed “Redstone 3”. So it’s not clear whether the recently-released Creators Update is even enough, or if support hinges on additional functionality intended for Redstone 3.

In any case, for the moment NVIDIA is calling this a preview, presumably due to the Insider OS requirements. Despite this qualifier, 4K Netflix support should fully work on all Pascal GPUs with 3GB or more of VRAM, though this means that 2GB GTX 1050 cards are oddly excluded. NVIDIA does note however that support isn’t currently working with SLI configurations, and in that scenario the video cards need to be unlinked first. NVIDIA has also posted a helpful chart on HDCP 2.2 compliance, noting that 4K support is only available when all active displays support HDCP 2.2; any active HDCP 1.x displays will limit the stream quality to 1080p.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • philehidiot - Saturday, April 29, 2017 - link

    I STILL can not get Blu Rays to play on my PC. I don't want to be downloading illegally (possibility of losing my career if caught) but it's getting ridiculous. I finally went and got a new monitor as my old one was dying and had the old HDCP and I thought that was causing the issue (it was) but now the bloody software starts whinging about how its integrity can't be assured and it's closing. It's maddening and when you have a decent media set up which would make Blu Ray pretty awesome and you're basically shafted by overzealous DRM you just end up not buying any Blu Ray content. It just pushes people into downloading, especially as when you do get the bloody things working they force you to watch loads of trailers and adverts. If only I could get VLC to work properly with Blu Rays.

    Frankly I can see why people download illegally. It's easier. If it wasn't for the serious potential impact on my career I'd be at it also. And yes, you can pay and download it but then you're often limited even more as to how you can use it - if I'm buying a film I want to be able to take it round to a friend's house or watch it on any player in the house. The prices of digital content (I hate that term, it's all bloody digital) don't reflect the limitations of the format.

    They will not stop piracy. It has happened since the days of VCRs and tapes. All they're doing is starting a war which they will not win (despite even getting the British Government to block access wholesale to certain websites, China styleee), spending massive amounts of money which then gets passed onto consumers in the price of the media, making tech more complex (I AM NOT buying a 10 series GeForce card just to watch 4K when there's no legitimate hardware requirement, only a manufactured one, that's diabolical) and making purchasing it harder. They need to totally reverse course and (like when tax rates are lowered, tax revenue increases, to a point), embrace the digital platform rather than resisting it and trying to lock it down and make buying and watching as easy as possible. Stop spending money on fancy hardware restrictions and huge legal operations and charge less for the damned content in the first place and people won't baulk at paying so much for it.

    Amazon have got it right - multiple platforms all linked with accessible pricing. You can link any telly with HDMI to their service and watch anything you have bought. You can watch it on a TV, phone, tablet or PC. Importantly here, the hardware required to work with a TV is cheap enough. They know you'll buy their content or have to sign up to Prime so they can afford to sell the hardware at a loss or at cost. Still can't take it round to a mates and pop it in the DVD player but it's getting there. Quite why the rest of the industry resist so hard I don't get.
  • HomeworldFound - Saturday, April 29, 2017 - link

    If you can't get Blu-Ray movies to play on your PC, then I wonder how you'd even be able to operate a VCR.
  • philehidiot - Saturday, April 29, 2017 - link

    And I call myself a nerd. :(

    Seriously, every time I've bothered trying it has been so much more effort to get around the problems imposed artificially by DRM that I've simply considered it not worth the time investment to overcome them. I have no doubt I could but I resent having to fart arse about for something that should just work. I get the same feeling when I have to go through multiple layers of piracy protection bullshit just to play a PC game that I've paid for.
  • bill.rookard - Saturday, April 29, 2017 - link

    Part of the problem with the 4k support on older cards with HDMI 1.x might be the fact that at it's best (1.4) it's limited to 4k@30fps. The 900 series does have HDMI 2.0, so I'm not sure where the issue would be in just straight up decoding a 4k video stream beyond 'buy a new card hahahaha'.

    It's sad to see that services are pretty much actively screwing the customers by both simultaneously making it available while imposing ridiculous (and artificial) hardware standards before you can view it.

    Do they not realize that those on the technological bleeding edge are for the most part the ones who would also be most able to know how to bypass all these artificial restrictions? That the bulk of people who would be likely to buy and enjoy the 4k content are also NOT going to pay for the new hardware?
  • djsvetljo - Sunday, April 30, 2017 - link

    960 has HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 I believe.
  • Bateluer - Saturday, April 29, 2017 - link

    Getting BDs to play on a PC is easy. Its just that the software to do it is universally terrible. Its easier to buy the BD, rip it, and watch the raw data file with VLC.
  • Inteli - Saturday, April 29, 2017 - link

    If you've got a Blu-ray drive, why not just use something like MakeMKV to rip the video off the disc? As long as you're not distributing it, it's legal, you get uncompressed video, and you can play it on just about anything given enough time to transcode it. Ripping the video takes all the fuss out of playing Blu-rays as long as you can handle the fact that most Blu-rays are going to spit out a 25+ GB file.

    Ripping keeps all the audio tracks that were on the disc and strips out the DRM, so you can watch it where you want to and how you want to. It really does just work provided you have the storage for it. We can't rip UHD Blu-rays quite yet because those have even more DRM, but people are working on it. Things should speed up now that PowerDVD 17 has launched.
  • Golgatha777 - Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - link

    Actually it's not legal due to the DMCA, and specifically the need to break the DRM to access the data.
  • Dribble - Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - link

    I have a laptop that plays blurays but I have had to in the past use the software that bypasses the encryption because I got a bluray for Christmas or whatever and my software wouldn't play it without an update that wasn't available yet. I don't pirate movies, but I know how to do it because it was the only way to get my legally bought film to play. Movie studios are so stupid.
  • BlueScreenJunky - Saturday, April 29, 2017 - link

    I agree that it's really a pain for consumers to have to deal with that, but to be fair what drives most people to less legit sources is that they don't want to pay for their content (or at least if they have a choice between paying or not they prefer not to pay).

    My main complaint about DRM on video is that they're useless, so they *only* bother legitimate customers. I would have no problem with something like Denuvo : It's efficient enough that many games using it are never cracked, or at least weeks or months after their release, and I've never been negatively impacted by it or have any trouble running Denuvo protected games.

    I don't think we can have something efficient for video content though, all existing DRMs are both inefficient and a pain for the customer.

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