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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [11.01.06]
Manufactured by: Intel


Video Encoding

For some, this will be the most crucial part of the review. Video encoding is one of the most intensive tasks that is commonly done on home desktop PC's. Whether you're encoding home videos for archiving, re-encoding DVD's to share with friends, or making backups of dual layer DVD's to fit on a single layer blank disc, the CPU you use will be a major factor. We'll look at all scenarios below.

To test the codecs, we use DVD2AVI to convert a single DVD .VOB file into an MPEG-4 AVI file, discarding the audio. The clip is a 45 minute clip from Groundhog Day.

DivX 6.2.5

DivX encoding took a huge leap in performance when it started supporting SMP processing. Whether you have a Pentium 4 with Hyperthreading or a dual core CPU, DivX shows a huge benefit from multiple cores. Moving from one thread to two showed a 250% improvement in performance!

Unfortunately the 2 extra cores do not show much of a performance increase, although they allow the QX6700 to keep up with the X6800. As usual, Core 2 Duo chips show a huge performance advantage compared to Athlon64 X2.

XviD 1.2 Beta

XviD also supports SMP processing, although it is still in beta stage. However I have not come across any problems during testing. With XviD, you have to manually enter the number of threads you wish to run. For the Kentsfield chips, this was set to 4, and for the rest of the processors was set to 2. We used the Koepi Windows Binary.

Once again, the extra cores are showing very little benefit in video encoding. However there is still a benefit to be had, and the clock speed disadvantage does not exist here either. You might notice by now how much slower XviD encodes compared to DivX. If you switched to XviD because of the whole spyware fiasco, maybe it's time to turn back...

DVD Shrink 3.2

Sometimes you don't want to convert a DVD to MPEG-4, but want to keep it as MPEG-2 to watch on standard DVD players. In the case where you want to back up a dual layer DVD, you may want to use DVD Shrink. It is multithreaded, and extremely simple to use. It still allows you to re-author DVD's to take out any extras and audio tracks to make room for a higher bitrate.

In this test, we are re-encoding the DVD9 version of (one of my all-time favourite movies) Gangs of New York. The DVD was first ripped to the hard drive, then encoded to an ISO. Everything was left in, except the DTS audio track. The 'Sharpen' advanced filter was run as well.

This time the extra cores definitely come into play, although they don't quite cut the encoding time in half. Can you believe we're at the point where you can re-encode a DVD in under 10 minutes?

Next Page: (Audio Encoding)