Intel Quick Sync Video

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Intel® Quick Sync Video is Intel's brand for its dedicated video encoding and decoding hardware core. Quick Sync was introduced with the Sandy Bridge CPU microarchitecture on 9 January 2011, and has been found on the die of Intel products ever since.

The name "Quick Sync" refers to the use case of quickly transcoding ("converting") a video from, for example, a DVD or Blu-ray Disc to a format appropriate to, for example, a smartphone.

Unlike video encoding on a CPU or a general-purpose GPU, Quick Sync is a dedicated hardware core on the processor die. This allows for a much more power efficient video processing.[1][2]


Quick Sync has been praised for its speed.[3] The eighth annual MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video codecs comparison showed that Quick Sync is comparable to x264 superfast preset in terms of speed, compression ratio and quality (SSIM);[4] tests were performed on an Intel Core i7 3770 (Ivy Bridge) processor. A benchmark from Tom's Hardware showed in 2011 that Quick Sync could convert a 449 MB, four-minute 1080p file to 1024×768 in 22 seconds. The same encoding using only software took 172 seconds but it is not clear what software encoder was used and how it was configured. The same encoding took 83 or 86 seconds GPU-assisted, using an Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 and an AMD Radeon HD 6870, respectively, both of which were at that time contemporary high-end GPUs.[5] Quick Sync encoding can produce image quality which varies based on how well the software is written.

Quick Sync development[edit]

Quick Sync was first unveiled at Intel Developer Forum 2010 (13 September) but, according to Tom's Hardware, Quick Sync had been conceptualized 5 years before that.[1] The older Clarkdale microarchitecture had hardware video decoding support, but no hardware encoding support.[3] known as Intel Clear Video.

Version 1 (Sandy Bridge)
Quick Sync was initially built into some Sandy Bridge CPUs, but not into Sandy Bridge Pentiums or Celerons.[6]
Version 2 (Ivy Bridge)
The Ivy Bridge microarchitecture included a "next-generation" implementation of Quick Sync.[7]
Version 3 (Haswell)
The Haswell microarchitecture implementation is focused on quality, with speed about the same as before (for any given clip length vs. encoding length).[citation needed] It has seven hard-coded quality/performance levels (called "target usages"), compared to the three in previous generations. The highest-quality TU1 setting is intended to be higher quality than Ivy Bridge's version, and the highest speed TU7 setting should be faster, higher-quality, and more battery-friendly for mobile devices.[citation needed]
This generation of Quick Sync supports the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, VC-1 and H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2 video standards.[1]
Version 4 (Broadwell)
The Broadwell microarchitecture adds VP8 hardware decoding[8] support. Also, it has two independent bit stream decoder (BSD) rings to process video commands on GT3 GPUs; this allows one BSD ring to process decoding and the other BSD ring to process encoding at the same time.[9]
Version 5 (Skylake)
The Skylake microarchitecture adds a full fixed-function H.265/HEVC main/8-bit encoding and decoding acceleration, hybrid and partial HEVC main10/10-bit decoding acceleration, JPEG encoding acceleration for resolutions up to 16,000×16,000 pixels, and partial VP9 encoding and decoding acceleration.[10]
Version 6 (Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, Whiskey Lake)
The Kaby Lake & Coffee Lake microarchitecture adds full fixed-function H.265/HEVC Main10/10-bit encoding and decoding acceleration & full fixed-function VP9 8-bit & 10-bit decoding acceleration & 8-bit encoding acceleration.[11][12]

Operating system support[edit]

The Quick Sync Video SIP core needs to be supported by the device driver. The device driver provides one or more interfaces, for example VDPAU, Video Acceleration API (VA API) or DXVA for video decoding, and OpenMAX IL or VA API for video encoding. One of these interfaces is then used by end-user software, for example VLC media player or GStreamer, to access the Quick Sync Video hardware and make use of it.


Quick Sync support by Intel Media SDK on Linux is available,[13] and as of November 2013 it is supported by Wowza Streaming Engine (formerly known as Wowza Media Server) for transcoding of media streams using their transcoder add-on.[14] Quick Sync is also supported by the VA API, for both encoding and decoding.[15]

Microsoft Windows[edit]

Microsoft offers support for Quick Sync in Windows (in Windows Vista and later) based on supporting driver software from Intel and support through both DirectShow/DirectX as well as WMF (Windows Media Foundation). A wide range of applications are based upon this base support for the technology in Windows.


Apple added Quick Sync support in OS X Mountain Lion for AirPlay, FaceTime, iTunes, Safari, QuickTime X, iMovie, Final Cut Pro X, Motion and Compressor. Third party software includes MacX Video Converter Pro, DaVinci Resolve, IINA, VLC and others.

Hardware decoding and encoding[edit]

Support for Quick Sync hardware accelerated decoding of H.264, MPEG-2, and VC-1 video is widely available. One common way to gain access to the technology on Microsoft Windows is by use of the free ffdshow filter. Some other free software like VLC media player (since version 2.1.0 "Rincewind") support Quick Sync as well. Many commercial applications also benefit from the technology today, including CyberLink PowerDVD, CyberLink PowerDirector and MacroMotion Bogart "gold" edition.

It has been claimed that in testing it keeps the CPU at its lowest possible frequency to reduce power consumption in order to maximize battery life for mobile devices while being about twice as fast as libavcodec.[16]

Support for hardware-assisted media encoding tailored for Quick Sync is widely available. Examples of such software with Quick Sync support during encoding processes are Plex Media Server,[17] Badaboom Media Converter, CyberLink MediaShow, CyberLink MediaEspresso, ArcSoft MediaConverter, MAGIX Video Pro X, Pinnacle Studio (since version 18), Roxio Toast, Roxio Creator, XSplit Broadcaster,[18] XSplit Gamecaster[19] (all commercial) and projects like HandBrake (windows build only),[20], Open Broadcaster Software[21] or applications for operation with a video content entering in Adobe CC2018.

The following table shows fixed-function encode/decode support for various Intel platforms:[22]

Fixed-function Quick Sync Video format support
Cantiga Clarkdale / Arrandale Sandy Bridge Ivy Bridge / Haswell Broadwell Braswell / Cherry Trail Skylake Apollo Lake[23] Kaby Lake / Gemini Lake[24] / Coffee Lake[25] / Cannon Lake[26]
MPEG-2 Decode only Decode only Decode only Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
H.264 No Decode only Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
VC-1 No No Decode only Decode only Decode only Decode only Decode only Decode only Decode only
JPEG No No No Decode only Decode only Yes Yes Yes Yes
VP8 No No No No Decode only Yes Yes Yes Yes
HEVC No No No No No Decode only Yes Yes Yes
HEVC 10-bit No No No No No No No Decode only (8K) Yes[27]
VP9 No No No No No No No Decode only (4K) Yes[28]
VP9 10-bit No No No No No No No No Decode only

Certain low-end and high-end parts (including multi-socket Xeons, and some Extreme Edition CPUs expected to be used with a dedicated GPU) do not contain the hardware core to support Quick Sync.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Intel's Second-Gen Core CPUs: The Sandy Bridge Review - Sandy Bridge's Secret Weapon: Quick Sync". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  2. ^ "The Sandy Bridge Review: Intel Core i7-2600K, i5-2500K and Core i3-2100 Tested". AnandTech. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
  3. ^ a b "The Sandy Bridge Review: Intel Core i7-2600K, i5-2500K and Core i3-2100 Tested". Anandtech. Retrieved 2011-09-23.
  4. ^ "Eighth MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Video Codecs Comparison". MSU Graphics & Media Lab (Video Group). pp. 135–137 (6.4 Speed/Quality Trade-Off).
  5. ^ "Intel's Second-Gen Core CPUs: The Sandy Bridge Review - Quick Sync Vs. APP Vs. CUDA". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  6. ^ "Intel Pentium Processor G620".
  7. ^ "Intel's Roadmap: Ivy Bridge, Panther Point, and SSDs". Anandtech. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  8. ^ "VA-API 1.3 Readies Broadwell Support, Adds VP8 Decoding". March 18, 2014. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  9. ^ "Intel Broadwell GT3 Graphics Have Dual BSD Rings". Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  10. ^ Cutress, Ian. "The Intel 6th Gen Skylake Review: Core i7-6700K and i5-6600K Tested". Retrieved 2015-08-06.
  11. ^ Harsh Jain (2016-06-06). "What's New in Intel® Media SDK 2016 R2". Intel. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  12. ^ "Intel® Media Software Development Kit 2016, R2, Release Notes Version (" (PDF). Intel. 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  13. ^ "Intel® Media SDK 2013 R3 for Linux Servers now available for download".
  14. ^ "Wowza Delivers Accelerated Streaming Performance with Intel Media SDK 2013 for Servers".
  15. ^ "GStreamer VA-API README".
  16. ^ "H.264/AVC". Codecs.
  17. ^ "Using Hardware-Accelerated Streaming". Plex Support. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  18. ^ "XSplit Broadcaster". Archived from the original on 2014-03-14.
  19. ^ "XSplit Gamecaster". Archived from the original on 2014-03-14.
  20. ^ "HandBrake 0.10.0 Released". Retrieved 2014-11-22.
  21. ^ "Open Broadcaster Software".
  22. ^ "Intel VA-API driver readme".
  23. ^ Zak Killian (2017-12-05). "Intel takes the lid off the full specs of its Apollo Lake NUCs". The Tech Report. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  24. ^ "New Features of Intel Gemini Lake Processors – HDMI 2.0, 10-bit VP9 Codec, 4-Wide Pipeline, and More". CNXSoft. 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  25. ^ Koen Crijns (2017-10-06). "Intel Core i7 8700K / i5 8600K / i5 8400 'Coffee Lake' review: affordable six cores!". Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  26. ^ "VA-API 1.7.3 changelog".
  27. ^ "VA-API 1.7.3 changelog".
  28. ^ "VA-API 1.7.1 changelog".

External links[edit]