ATI Stream: Finally, CUDA Has Competition

Mixed Messages

For those of you who wondered exactly which “Pirates 2 trailer” I was testing with in the CUDA article, here it is again: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, a 71 MB, 1280x528 file (plus black bars) in DivX AVI format. Let’s say you have a thing for playing movie trailers on your PlayStation 3. I picked the 720x480 profile as a target. This should be a straightforward test with neither player supporting decode acceleration of the source and both accelerating the target.

The outcome here was a little odd for two reasons. First, we finally see a slight disparity in CPU-only encode times, although a 7.6% variance on a three minute file is nothing to fret about. Second, even though Nvidia had the higher CPU-only time, it manages to scoot just past AMD on the GPU-assist score, beating Stream by 11 seconds, or 13.5 percent, and contradicting our earlier results.

The next test was purposefully weighted toward AMD by selecting an MPEG-2 source, which Stream accelerates but CUDA does not, and converting into AVC for the iPod Touch. This is actually one of the more important tests because I selected a 298 MB VOB file—the trailer video from the Mr. and Mrs. Smith DVD, making this representative of performance for when you want to encode your DVD rips into H.264. We have AMD accelerating both ends of the transcode while Nvidia is only lifting the back end. The results seem to mirror this exactly. Both cards show the same CPU-only times, but whereas CUDA cuts 35.5% off the transcode time, Stream shows a 108% improvement. In my mind, this test above all others shows Stream’s best value.

 Yeah, I skewed the last test toward AMD, but that doesn’t change the fact that Stream is doing something CUDA can’t.  Score: AMD 3, Nvidia 3.

  • radiowars
    So..... TBH they both work pretty well, I hope that we don't start a whole competition over this.
  • falchard
    Did someone necro an old topic? I think ATI has been talking about ATI Stream for a while. I know atleast a year since FireStream.
  • cl_spdhax1
    arcsoft simhd plugin is currently only enabled for n- cuda graphic cards.
  • Andraxxus
    They're good but hopefully they will manage to improve them more. Competition is good for business.
  • DjEaZy
    ... why just now talk about? I use it sins Catalyst 8.12...
  • IzzyCraft
    Stream is old but not nearly as old and compatible as CUDA I'd get it a year or two more when more capable cards circulate the market and trickle down to the people before i would call it competition.

    Well it's good to see more then just 1 app that supports it.
  • ThisIsMe
    Just for the sake of it, and the fact that many pros would like to know the result, it would be nice to see comparisons like this using nVidia's Quadro cards vs. ATI's FirePro cards.
  • ohim
    why use 185.85 since those drivers are a total wreck

    13 pages with ppl having different problems with that driver
  • I think the second graph on the "Mixed Messages" page isn't the right graph.

    It's the same graph from the following "Heavier Lifting" page instead of a graph for the 298MB VOB file that should be shown?
  • Spanky Deluxe
    Stream and CUDA are likely to go the way of the dodo soon though. OpenCL's where its at. Unfortunately its a tad hard to get programming with it right now since you need to be a registered developer on nVidia's Early Access Program or you have to be a registered developer with Apple's developer program with access to pre-release copies of Snow Leopard.
    Virtually no one will bother using CUDA or Steam after OpenCL's out - why limit yourself to one hardware base after all? It'd be like writing Windows software that only ran on AMD processors and not Intel. Developers will not bother writing for both when they can just use one language that can run on both hardware platforms.