Video Transcoding Examined: AMD, Intel, And Nvidia In-Depth

Small Clip Transcoding Speed: APP Versus CUDA Versus Quick Sync

We downloaded three 1080p clips (H.264/MOV container) from Apple's trailer service to show more storage space-friendly bitrates (~9.5 Mb/s) that you would likely encounter on a day-to-day basis. Since we are more interested in the GPU side of things, we are only enabling the hardware encoding when we can.

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AMD Radeon HD 6970
AppSettingMediaEspressoSW Decode / APP EncodeMediaEspressoSW Decode / EncodeMediaConverterHW Decode / APP EncodeMediaConverterSW Decode / Encode
Fast & Furious0:00:330:00:530:00:270:00:25
Letters from Iwo Jima0:00:360:00:590:00:310:00:26
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Nvidia GeForce GTX 580
AppSettingMediaEspressoSW Decode / APP EncodeMediaEspressoSW Decode/EncodeMediaConverterHW Decode / APP EncodeMediaConverterSW Decode / Encode
Fast & Furious0:00:270:00:530:00:200:00:25
Letters from Iwo Jima0:00:280:00:590:00:210:00:26
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Intel HD Graphics 3000 (Core i5-2500K)
AppSettingMedia EspressoPerformanceSW Decode / Quick Sync EncodeMedia Espresso PerformanceSW Decode / EncodeMedia EspressoQualitySW Decode / Quick Sync EncodeMedia EspressoQualitySW Decode / EncodeMedia ConverterHW Decode / Quick Sync EncodeMedia ConverterSW Decode / Encode
Fast & Furious0:00:290:00:370:00:310:01:030:00:150:00:20
Letters from Iwo Jima0:00:310:00:410:00:340:01:110:00:200:00:25

When it comes to smaller files and lower bitrates, the CPU route is always slower than employing GPGPU or fixed-function encoding, in the case of Quick Sync.

The only outlier here is AMD in MediaConverter. For whatever reason, we are still getting longer transcode times when we select UVD 3-based decoding/APP-based encoding. Unfortunately, MediaConverter doesn't allow us to separate the two settings, so we have no way to know which part of the pipeline is causing the slowdown. We let both AMD and Arcsoft know about the issue, and we are told they are working on a resolution to this problem. This anomaly isn't exhibited in CyberLink's MediaEspresso.

  • spoiled1
    You have been around for over a decade, and you still haven't figured out the basics of web interfaces.

    When I want to open an image in a new tab using Ctrl+Click, that's what I want to do, I do not want to move away from my current page.

    Please fix your links.
  • spammit
    omgf, ^^^this^^^.

    I signed up just to agree with this. I've been reading this site for over 5 years and I have hoped and hoped that this site would change to accommodate the user, but, clearly, that's not going to happen. Not to mention all the spelling and grammar mistakes in the recent year. (Don't know about this article, didn't read it all).

    I didn't even finish reading the article and looking at the comparisons because of the problem sploiled1 mentioned. I don't want to click on a single image 4 times to see it fullsize, and I certainly don't want to do it 4 times (mind you, you'd have to open the article 4 separate times) in order to compare the images side by side (alt-tab, etc).

    Just abysmal.
  • cpy
    THW have worst image presentation ever, you can't even load multiple images so you can compare them in different tabs, could you do direct links to images instead of this bad design?
  • ProDigit10
    I would say not long from here we'll see encoders doing video parallel encoding by loading pieces between keyframes. keyframes are tiny jpegs inserted in a movie preferably when a scenery change happens that is greater than what a motion codec would be able to morph the existing screen into.
    The data between keyframes can easily be encoded in a parallel pipeline or thread of a cpu or gpu.
    Even on mobile platforms integrated graphics have more than 4 shader units, so I suspect even on mobile graphics cards you could run as much as 8 or more threads on encoding (depending on the gpu, between 400 and 800 Mhz), that would be equal to encoding a single thread video at the speed of a cpu encoding with speed of 1,6-6,4GHz, not to mention the laptop or mobile device still has at least one extra thread on the CPU to run the program, and operating system, as well as arrange the threads and be responsible for the reading and writing of data, while the other thread(s) of a CPU could help out the gpu in encoding video.

    The only issue here would be B-frames, but for fast encoding video you could give up 5-15MB video on a 700MB file due to no B-frame support, if it could save you time by processing threads in parallel.
  • intelx
    first thanks for the article i been looking for this, but your gallery really sucks, i mean it takes me good 5 mins just to get 3 pics next to each other to compare , the gallery should be updated to something else for fast viewing.
  • _Pez_
    Ups ! for tom's hardware's web page :P, Fix your links. :) !. And I agree with them; spoiled1 and spammit.
  • AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls
    I agree. Tom's needs to figure out how to properly make images accessible to the readers.
  • kikireeki
    spoiled1Tom, You have been around for over a decade, and you still haven't figured out the basics of web interfaces.When I want to open an image in a new tab using Ctrl+Click, that's what I want to do, I do not want to move away from my current page.Please fix your links.Thanks
    and to make things even worse, the new page will show you the picture with the same thumbnail size and you have to click on it again to see the full image size, brilliant!
  • acku
    Apologies to all. There are things I can control in the presentation of an article and things that I cannot, but everyone here has given fair criticism. I agree that right click and opening to a new window is an important feature for articles on image quality. I'll make sure Chris continues to push the subject with the right people.

    Web dev is a separate department, so we have no ability to influence the speed at which a feature is implemented. In the meantime, I've uploaded all the pictures to ZumoDrive. It's packed as a single download.

    Remember to view pictures in the native resolution to avoid scalers.

    Andrew Ku
  • Reynod
    An excellent read though Andrew.

    Please give us an update in a few months to see if there has been any noticeable improvements ... keep your base files for reference.

    I would imagine Quicksynch is now a major plus for those interested in rendering ... and AMD and NVidia have some work to do.

    I appreciate the time and effort you put into the research and the depth of the article.