Anand Tuliani | 23 April 2009
Exploit the power of your GPU to transcode videos in half the time.
We all know that the main role of graphics processors is to accelerate graphics in games and 3D modeling applications. The tremendous compute power of the graphics processor was only known in figures until Nvidia and AMD introduced application programming interfaces (API) which allow code written in standard C language to be executed on the GPU. As a result there are several non-graphics applications which utilize its power.
Video encoding is one of the most CPU intensive tasks and it can take anywhere for a couple of minutes to a few hours to convert videos from one format to the other. The time taken for conversion depends on the length of the video, type of codec used, size and quality of output, and last but not the least, the hardware. CPUs with more cores are ideal for this task because they can process multiple threads simultaneously. But GPUs can complete the task in less than half the time if a suitable transcoder is used. The architecture of GPUs allows them to handle hundreds to thousands of parallel operations in one clock cycle as compared to CPUs that can handle very few per clock cycle. So if your PC or laptop has a compatible integrated or discrete graphics processor, you can utilize its power to encode videos faster.
CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) is Nvidia’s parallel computing architecture and is supported by all Nvidia GPUs from the GeForce 8 series onwards (desktop and mobile). These also include onboard GPUs such as the GeForce 8100. Currently, Badaboom Media Converter is the only CUDA-compatible video transcoding utility and can be downloaded from www.badaboomit.com. Supported input video formats include MPEG 1 and 2, H.264, WMV, DivX and XviD, but it can output video only in H.264 format.
AMD calls their parallel computing architecture AMD Stream, and it is supported by all GPUs from the Radeon HD 4000 series. If you own a compatible card, you can use AMD’s Avivo Video Converter (AVC) which is freely available on AMD’s website (drivers section) as an optional component. AVC is similar to Badaboom Media Converter, except that it outputs additional video formats.