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H.264 encoding - CPU vs GPU: Nvidia CUDA, AMD Stream, Intel MediaSDK and x264
by Guillaume Louel
Published on August 18, 2011


MediaCoder, Inception 1080p

MediaCoder redefines the notion of frame discrepancy here as 24 frames are missing from the beginning of the scene! A full second, no less…

Use an HTML5 compatible browser to view the graph!
Click here to view the PSNR graph of this scene.


The second delay here makes the graphs useless. Let’s move on to the visual comparisons:

Click here to display the frame comparison in a new tab.


The advantage of the Intel encoder in terms of conservation of textures is particularly visible on the rattan table. On the other hand, the NVIDIA version creates colour nuances which don’t exist in the source image and which translate into visual artefacts when the frames succeed one after the next.

Click here to display the frame comparison in a new tab.


If we forget the grain in the scene on the right, the NVIDIA encoder is once again sharper, when it comes to the face, than the Intel encoder.


K-On !! 1080p
So then, frame discrepancy or not? Listen to the drum roll!

The answer is… no. This time our frames are correctly aligned.


GPU decoding is again slower here! Let’s look at the results:

Use an HTML5 compatible browser to view the graph!
Click here to view the PSNR graph of this scene.


Quality is pretty homogenous throughout the scene, with just the baseline modes struggling a bit during the fade in/fade out.

Click here to display the frame comparison in a new tab.


Upwards of base mode, none of the encoders has any problem displaying a static image during several seconds.

Click here to display the frame comparison in a new tab.


There are very few problems on this second image.


Summary
Overall, the results obtained with MediaCoder were good and being able to use the high H.264 profile gives a boost to quality, particularly in the CUDA version of the encoder which was held back by poor implementation in the Arcsoft application and by the baseline profile in Cyberlink. In spite of this, while the results are good, we do need to put them into context: the results are good for GPU encoding. However, missing frames, too much advertising and the unfriendly interface mean this doesn’t come without a cost, even if the software is itself free.

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