Intel Quick Sync Video
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.
Quick Sync has been praised for its speed. 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); 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. Quick Sync encoding can produce image quality which varies based on how well the software is written.
Quick Sync development
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. The older Clarkdale microarchitecture had hardware video decoding support, but no hardware encoding support. 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.
- Version 2 (Ivy Bridge)
- The Ivy Bridge microarchitecture included a "next-generation" implementation of Quick Sync.
- 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). 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.
- This generation of Quick Sync supports the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, VC-1 and H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2 video standards.
- Version 4 (Broadwell)
- The Broadwell microarchitecture adds VP8 hardware decoding 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Operating system support
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, and as of November 2013[update] it is supported by Wowza Streaming Engine (formerly known as Wowza Media Server) for transcoding of media streams using their transcoder add-on. Quick Sync is also supported by the VA API, for both encoding and decoding.
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
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.
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, Badaboom Media Converter, CyberLink MediaShow, CyberLink MediaEspresso, ArcSoft MediaConverter, MAGIX Video Pro X, Pinnacle Studio (since version 18), Roxio Toast, Roxio Creator, XSplit Broadcaster, XSplit Gamecaster (all commercial) and projects like HandBrake (windows build only),, Open Broadcaster Software 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:
|Cantiga||Clarkdale / Arrandale||Sandy Bridge||Ivy Bridge / Haswell||Broadwell||Braswell / Cherry Trail||Skylake||Apollo Lake||Kaby Lake / Gemini Lake / Coffee Lake / Cannon Lake|
|MPEG-2||Decode only||Decode only||Decode only||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|
|HEVC 10-bit||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Decode only (8K)||Yes|
|VP9||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Decode only (4K)||Yes|
|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.
- Intel Clear Video, video decoding using a general purpose Intel GPU.
- Video Coding Engine, AMD's equivalent SIP core
- Nvidia NVENC, Nvidia's equivalent SIP core
- Amlogic Video Engine
- Broadcom Crystal HD
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- Intel Quick Sync Video, intel.com