The German publication Chip Online had the chance to evaluate
ATI's new sofware encoder, which uses the GPU resources of the ATI video cards to perform video encoding tasks. The firts results indicate that ATI's solution encodes 5 times faster than even the fastest CPUs available today.
Codenamed "Avivo XCode", the software has not been publically available yet, and employs the power of ATI's X1000 series architecture to perform video encoding and decoding tasks.
The Beta version of the software supports 11 video codecs/profiles: MPEG 1/2, VCD, S-VCD, DVD, MPEG 4 (DivX Compatible), WMV9, Portable Media Center, H.264 (AVI), MPEG-4 (Sony PSP Compatible Video) and H.264 (MP4 Apple iPod Compatible Video). However, it does not offer any settings for parameter like bitrate, resolution or audio quality.
The magazine used a Radeon X1300 and compared the transcoding performance of the Avivo tool with Microsoft's Windows Media Encoder 9. The same MPEG-2 video file was transcoded to the WMV9 format, with ATI's and Microsoft's solutions, respectively.
According to Chip, the results were impressive. The Avivo XCode beta transcoded the video clips about five times faster than Microsoft's encoder, and the quality of both transcoded videos was the same.
Specifically, Avivo trancoded the 610MB VOB file to WMV-9 (640 x 480) in just 2:33 minutes (quality set to highest, 3,904 MBit/s), while Windows Media Encoder finished in 8:42 Minutes (2,393 MBit/s).
However, it would be interesting to test the H.264 transcoding performance of Avivo's software. Transcoding an MPEG 2 file is In the future, as soon as the next generation High Definition video content will be allowed to be authored on the PC, the contribution of hardware (CPU, GPU) in transcoding tasks will be an essential, since software encoding will not be enough.
ATI made the first step with this utility, and NVIDIA is also expected to answer with similar software for its high-end GPUs.