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Old 15th September 2010, 10:09   #1  |  Link
royia
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x264 and Intel's Media Engine / Sandy Bridge

As we all know by now, Sandy Bridge will have Media Engine built in with video Encoding capabilities:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/3922/i...ecture-exposed

and:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/3922/i...ture-exposed/6

In light of this thread:
http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=155234

Do you think the Media Engine is doomed as well?
Or could it be used to accelerate, at least to some level, x.264?

What about the AVX instructions, do they hold any promise?
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Old 15th September 2010, 10:49   #2  |  Link
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What about the AVX instructions, do they hold any promise?
If I understood correctly it adds wider floating point instructions which is useless for x264.
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Old 15th September 2010, 11:08   #3  |  Link
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The real question is AMD's SSE5 instruction set (well, collection), and FMA4.
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Old 15th September 2010, 11:28   #4  |  Link
royia
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You say the Media Engine will not accelerate any sub routine in x.264?
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Old 15th September 2010, 19:27   #5  |  Link
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According to DS which posted something about it on doom9+1, that "engine" is similar to an already existing Broadcom encoder chip and Intel may just have licensed it from them and included it in their chips - if this is the case it's nothing really innovative.
The actual performance would also be barely enough to encode an 1080p in real time (40-50fps) , using some relatively poor quality settings ... x264 is already much better optimized and gives much more speed on better quality compared to than this "engine".

Just see this quote:

Quote:
The video encode engine is a brand new addition to Sandy Bridge. Intel is being light on the details of the encoder but we saw a demo where Intel took a ~3 minute 1080p 30Mbps source video and transcoded it to a 640 x 360 iPhone video format. The total process took 14 seconds and completed at a rate of roughly 400 frames per second.
Run a similar test with x264 and see how fast you can encode the clip using preset --fast or --veryfast.. Encoding something to 640x480 (though personally I really think it was 480x360 as video was for iPod/iPhone but whatever) is not hard.
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Old 15th September 2010, 23:24   #6  |  Link
royia
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Could you link to the discussion?
Thanks.

Because when I encode 720x576 using x.264 I don't get any more than 20fps.

Last edited by royia; 15th September 2010 at 23:27.
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Old 16th September 2010, 00:03   #7  |  Link
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As always, when those "fps" numbers are presented, they mean absolutely nothing, if they aren't put into a relation to quality and bitrate!

If that so called "Media Engine" encodes at 50 fps, but delivers quality like x264 with preset "fast" or "veryfast", then it will be of very limited use for us

And, as always with "hardware" encoders, I would expected that the "speed -vs- quality" options will be restricted, if existent at all.

Moreover, if they simply flange-mounted an "encoder chip" to their CPU, you must think of it as a "black box", which you can either use (as a replacement for a software encoder like x264) or not use at all.

Hence it probably can't be used to accelerate (or take over) only a specific "sub routine" of x264. Anyway, the thing is called "x264" not "x.264"
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Last edited by LoRd_MuldeR; 16th September 2010 at 00:11.
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Old 16th September 2010, 01:07   #8  |  Link
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Code:
T:\Winfast>x264_new --bitrate 2000 --preset veryfast -o out.mp4 "Video0914-0100(
TV35).mpg"
ffms [info]: 768x576p 1:1 @ 25/1 fps (vfr)
x264 [info]: using SAR=1/1
x264 [info]: using cpu capabilities: MMX2 SSE2Fast SSSE3 Cache64
x264 [info]: profile High, level 3.1
[46.3%] 626/1351 frames, 117.82 fps, 2056.03 kb/s, eta 0:00:06
On a Q6600 overclocked at 3 Ghz. With medium, it goes down to about 30 fps.


roya: No point linking to the other forum, as it's just a general discussion about the new features in that processor, not something particular about this video engine.

Otherwise, I agree with Mulder, it won't be something exposed like SSE or MMX instructions... I believe it will probably be something like DXVA and programmers will probably just be able to configure some parameters exposed through the video driver. It won't be something like Cuda or OpenCL, which allows you to offload some parts or all the computing in the processors.
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Old 16th September 2010, 04:27   #9  |  Link
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By the way, it's either H.264 or x264. Since there's no middle ground, hopefully you can distinguish the two (and start using the correct one! :O).
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Old 16th September 2010, 08:11   #10  |  Link
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Just when i saw the hardware encoder inside Sandy Bridge, i was thinking this Encoder would be great for Mobile Devices. On iPhone the quality would be unnoticeable given the source is HD unless it is very poor encoder.

Users would not have to worry about anything, just drag whatever they have and itunes would automatically transcode those into compatible format @ very fast rate. I dont know which encoder they used, but the one from Power VR would get you more then 1000fps encoding, that is a hour long movie would take less then 2 Min!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 16th September 2010, 08:32   #11  |  Link
Blue_MiSfit
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Quote:
unless it is very poor encoder.
It will be. But the results will probably be "good enough" for most casuals to transcode their pirated episodes of True Blood for their PMPs, plus it will be built into the bloody CPU.... so yeah I see this (or similar technology) being fairly successful in coming years.

Derek
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Old 16th September 2010, 09:42   #12  |  Link
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Well Depending on your view on it, i wont classify it as poor ( yet ), it is only x264 is so good.

I just read this here
http://lee.hdgreetings.com/2010/09/i...anscoding.html

It seems a delicate hardware encoder aren't much faster then x264 fastest pure CPU solution. I was expecting something like Power VR
http://www.imgtec.com/powervr/powervr-vxe.asp

Which encodes at 1000+ fps...
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Old 16th September 2010, 10:09   #13  |  Link
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i wont classify it as poor ( yet ), it is only x264 is so good.
Just because something is good, doesn't mean the other isn't poor.

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Originally Posted by iwod View Post
Which encodes at 1000+ fps...
Code:
x264 --preset ultrafast --crf 40 -o h:\test.mkv h:\test.avi
ffms [info]: 640x360p 1:1 @ 30000/1001 fps (vfr)
x264 [info]: using SAR=1/1
x264 [info]: using cpu capabilities: MMX2 SSE2Fast SSSE3 Cache64
x264 [info]: profile Baseline, level 3.0
x264 [info]: frame I:29    Avg QP:38.00  size:  6631
x264 [info]: frame P:7032  Avg QP:41.15  size:   833
x264 [info]: mb I  I16..4: 100.0%  0.0%  0.0%
x264 [info]: mb P  I16..4:  8.9%  0.0%  0.0%  P16..4: 17.6%  0.0%  0.0%  0.0%  0.0%    skip:73.5%
x264 [info]: coded y,uvDC,uvAC intra: 10.7% 33.3% 8.0% inter: 2.8% 4.5% 0.2%
x264 [info]: i16 v,h,dc,p: 36% 28% 23% 12%
x264 [info]: i8c dc,h,v,p: 67% 16% 14%  3%
x264 [info]: kb/s:205.43

aborted at input frame 7067, output frame 7061
encoded 7061 frames, 606.77 fps, 205.48 kb/s
Q6600 @ 3.2

If I was to drop the resolution abit more and clock it @3.6, I reckon I could hit 1000fps too.
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Last edited by Audionut; 16th September 2010 at 10:17.
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Old 16th September 2010, 10:18   #14  |  Link
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Wow... sorry i dont have such powerful hardware. If that is the case then what is the point of a dedicated Hardware Encoder on a fast CPU like Sandy Bridge?
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Old 16th September 2010, 10:22   #15  |  Link
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If that is the case then what is the point of a dedicated Hardware Encoder on a fast CPU like Sandy Bridge?
It will make Intel money.
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Old 16th September 2010, 10:31   #16  |  Link
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Doesn't make any sense, How does Intel make money from have a Hardware Encoder? No one will buy Sandy Bridge because of a Hardware encoder if Sandy Bridge in itself is already performing much better then the Hardware Encoder. Both in terms of quality and speed.

People Buy Sandy Bridge because it is a Great Chip all around.

So if the Hardware encoder are not faster nor produce better quality then a software encoder, what is the point ?
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Old 16th September 2010, 10:36   #17  |  Link
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what is the point ?
Money. Bragging rights.

"Hey dude, my new Intel computer encodes my new Dora episodes at wicked speeds."

AMD has something just as useless. Now Intel does too.

And I would think that there would be plenty of people who would base some of the purchasing decision on the fact that it has a 'dedicated hardware encoder'.

Honestly, There's a great many things in the world where you think, what's the point.
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Old 16th September 2010, 22:17   #18  |  Link
royia
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I guess too naive to think it would be flexible enough to allow some acceleration of at least the sub routines all H.264 encoders share.
Someone should just fax AMD / Intel the perfect SIMD instruction set and hardware block to give us x264 in good quality mode with speed over 120fps :-).
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Old 17th September 2010, 02:31   #19  |  Link
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Money. Bragging rights.

"Hey dude, my new Intel computer encodes my new Dora episodes at wicked speeds."

AMD has something just as useless. Now Intel does too.

And I would think that there would be plenty of people who would base some of the purchasing decision on the fact that it has a 'dedicated hardware encoder'.

Honestly, There's a great many things in the world where you think, what's the point.
If you are talking about AMD's AVIVIO encoder... Now that's something that is REALLY useless.
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Old 17th September 2010, 02:37   #20  |  Link
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Avivo is different. it uses GPU acceleration... it's not just some silicon stuffed into the CPU.
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