Faster Than Real-Time: MPEG-4 Encoding With DivX 4.11

Conclusion: Intel Sets The Pace, AMD Benefits

The latest free DivX codec, 4.11, is a revolutionary product. For the first time, the Pentium 4/2000 will be able to break the real-time barrier when simultaneously converting video and audio signals, even in worst-case scenarios. While it's true that Intel has a head start on AMD, as we clearly see in the benchmark discipline, it's evident that AMD can still hold its own.

Previously a virtual unknown, YUV color space is finally being used in the utilities. Its predecessor, RGB, would have never allowed the frame rates for DVDs to get anywhere near as high as YUV does. Athlon XP owners can also enjoy the fruits of Intel's labor on optimizing the DivX codec for SSE. Both the Palomino (Athlon XP) and the Morgan processors (Duron) have gotten a boost from the optimization. There's one caveat to this statement - you have to use the correct utilities, since our old friend FlaskMPEG 0.6, developed by Alberto Vigata, can't help us out much more.

Currently, the free tool Flask XMPEG 4.2a offers the most potential, and is substantially faster than commercial DVD-copying software. So, if you're in the market for a tool that will quickly convert DVD rips or MPEG-2 videos into the popular MPEG-4 file format, you should definitely check out XMPEG 4.2a. Intel has proven that optimizing the source code for SSE can put the spring back in even the old Vigata tool's step. It would be a great help to many users if the French programmers were to allow Intel to optimize XMPEG 4.2a for SSE.

On the other hand, the developers would have to make sure that Intel doesn't make changes in the source code, just to trip up Athlon XP CPUs. Alternatively, the developers might allow AMD to put in its two cents. Or, every CPU manufacturer could develop its own plug-in, independent of the others - and users would definitely be better off if they did.

Uwe Scheffel