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Pegasys, Inc.'s TMPGEnc 4.0 Xpress with Leadtek SpursEngine Hardware accelerator

MPEG-2/MPEG-4 hardware accelerator By John Virata

TMPGEnc 4.0 Xpress is a video encoder application along the lines of Sorenson Squeeze, Apple's Compressor, and Adobe's Media Encoder. It has been around for quite a while, but doesn't seem to get the press that the other tools get, despite the output quality being very good. The application offers support for NVIDIA's CUDA technology as well as Leadtek's SpursEngine MPEG-2/MPEG-4 hardware accelerator.

Within this review, the SpursEngine was used to encode .mts video from a Panasonic HMC-150 AVCHD camcorder. We first take a look at the TMPGEnc 4.0 Xpress workflow and interface. The interface is easily to work with. It features four buttons at the top, Start, Source Format, and Encode. There is also an Options button that enables you to get help, register the application, change your preferences, batch encode tools and so on.

Start pretty much is self explanatory. You start a new project, open an existing project from this window. You can also access the MPEG tools as well as the Batch Encode tool, and get help from TMPGEnc's 307 page help file complete with Table of Contents.

The Source window is where you add your files that you wish to encode. Once you add your clips, you can edit them if you wish, and add other files such as pictures and audio. You can also build a slideshow from the Source window as well and set the slideshow up for encoding.

Once you've added your clips, the next button you access is Format. This is where you choose your output formats. While TMPGenc supports a variety of impoort formats, including AVCHD from the latest AVCHD camcorders, such as Panasonic's HMC-150 (I used .mts files I captured with that camera for testing), it also supports a wide variety of output formats. TMPGEnc has the formats divided by specific use (DVD standard MPEG file, XDVD spec MPEG file, video CD standard MPEG, Super video CD standard MPEG, HDV standard MPEG, Blu-ray standard MPEG); specific format (MPEG file, SpursEngine, AVI file, WIndows Media Video, QuickTime, DivX, MPEG-4) video only format (sequential still picture file output); Audio only formats (WAVE, MPEG, Dolby Digital, Windows Media Audio, and AIFF), and a Custom output template.

After you choose the format, the File Output mode and format menus appear which enable you to choose the video and audio format specific to the format you chose, compression settings, video size and frame rate, audio codec (if you want a custom codec), depth, and quality. Following format is the Encode button, where you start the actual encoding process, including batch encodes. You give the job a file name and output location and hit the encode button. TMPGEnc 4.0 does the rest.

Leadtek's WinFast PxVC1100 hardware encoder card
TMPGEnc 4.0 encodes using the host system's CPU, but can take advantage of third party hardware cards, such as those supporting NVIDIA's CUDA technology as well as the SpursEngine from Leadtek. Formally knows as the PxVC1100, the Leadtek SpursEngine hardware card dramatically accelerates your encoding functions in TMPGEnc 4.0, especially for encoding logner duration videos. I installed the card on a PowerSpec Intel 2.66GHz Core2 Duo E8200 PC with 3GB RAM running Windows XP. I was surprised with the results.

With the WinFast PxVC1100 hardware encoder card selected in Output Format Selection window, TMPGEnc 4.0 encoded 55 second 1920x1080 .mts clip in 55 seconds. Without the hardware card, and relying just on the host CPU, the time was 59 seconds, a negligible difference. The real difference was in a longer clip, 3:08 with the SpursEngine enabled versus 18:04 using the host CPU. With longer videos, there is a huge difference in encoding speeds. TMPGEnc 4.0 is a great application that offers very good quality output, and the SpursEngine only makes the software go faster, and waiting less is always a good thing.

TMPGEnc 4.0 Xpress $99.95
Leadtek WinFast PxVC1100 SpursEngine $249


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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at [email protected]
Related Keywords:media encoder, hardware encoder, digital video,


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