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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


StaxRip/x264, Inception 720p

Let’s move on to our choice morsel, our explosion scenes!

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Click here to view the PSNR graph of this scene.


Once again, it is particularly interesting to compare the scenes with character’s faces with the explosion scenes. In single pass mode, you can see very clearly that the visual image is a little down in terms of quality. In double pass mode however, the encoder recognises the difficulty of the scene and budgets a higher bitrate for these scenes. Visually, the difference is notable:

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


Look how easily a mode such as ‘veryfast’ 2p outdoes ‘veryslow’ 1p, which is nevertheless 3.6x slower. As of ‘veryfast’ mode, double pass quality is almost perfect!

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The results in single pass mode aren’t that great. Note that even ‘veryslow’ 2p doesn’t conserve the original grain of our scene on the right. The bitrate simply doesn’t allow this.


K-On !! 720p

For K-On!!, we went for the tune animation mode in x264.


The ‘faster' 2p mode is encoded in real time on our processor.

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


The scores are very high here, even in ‘ultrafast’ mode. The advantage given by 2p mode isn’t as clear here, at least not in this sequence. And how does it look?
Click here to display the frame comparison in a new tab.


As of 'superfast’ the quality is already very close to our source image! ‘Ultrafast’ is sharper than most GPU baseline encodes.

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


In ’ultrafast’ mode an artefact appears in the solid blue area isolated on screen. The other modes are perfect visually speaking.

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