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ATI positions Stream Technology as NVIDIA CUDA rival

Posted on Thursday, November 13 2008 @ 15:32:21 CET by

AMD announced that the ATI Catalyst 8.12 driver, which will be released on December 10, will feature a free application for GPU video transcoding. It's called ATI Avivo Video Convertor, and AMD promises this "low complexity" application will transcode an hour of HD video in just 12 minutes. It seems the application won't have a lot more functionanality than the Elemental Badaboom video transcoder for NVIDIA CUDA GPUs, but Avivo Video Convertor won't cost $30. However, the catch is that you'll need either a Radeon HD 4600 or Radeon HD 4800 series GPU to run this program.

The ATI Catalyst 8.12 driver will also unlock new ATI Stream acceleration capabilities, which looks like a competitor for the NVIDIA CUDA technology. Here's a snip from the press release:
ATI Stream is a set of advanced hardware and software technologies that enable AMD graphics processors (GPU), working in concert with the system's central processor (CPU), to accelerate applications beyond just graphics. This results in better balanced platforms capable of running demanding computing tasks faster than ever.(1) ATI Stream-enabled software titles for entertainment, gaming and productivity are being released or are under development by a growing list of independent software vendors (ISVs) including ArcSoft and CyberLink.

To give users immediate benefit from ATI Stream, AMD also plans to release in December a free downloadable version of its ATI Avivo(TM) Video Converter utility. This intuitive, easy-to-use application enables transcoding of HD video up to 17 times faster(1) than with the CPU alone, in tests performed using an ATI Radeon(TM) HD 4850 graphics card.

"ATI Stream is one of the best examples of the power of Fusion, and today's announcement is the first major step in taking this important new technology mainstream," said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. "For the millions of people that have already purchased an ATI Radeon HD 4000 series graphics card, this is one more way we're saying thank you and helping them get more out of their investment. For those who haven't yet, it's one more reason for them to go online right now and buy one."

ATI Radeon graphics processors from AMD are already found in millions of PCs around the world, each running the ATI Catalyst software driver. In the past 12 months, the various ATI Catalyst driver packages have been downloaded 48 million times, averaging nearly four million downloads each month.

The next ATI Catalyst release is version 8.12. AMD has begun distributing a beta version to its hardware and software technology partners for testing, with the final version scheduled to be released for download on or around December 10. Once installed, the driver package automatically turns on the ATI Stream acceleration capabilities within ATI Radeon(TM) HD 4000 series graphics cards. This will have the immediate effect of allowing any ATI Stream-enabled application to run faster, with no special effort required by consumers to enable this technology. As always, expert users will have the ability to customize their ATI Catalyst driver install options.

Users can then download and install the free ATI Avivo Video Converter. In tests performed using this utility, AMD was able to convert an hour of video to a portable player format in about 12 minutes.(1) Combined with one of the recent ATI Radeon HD 4000 series graphics card offerings, the ATI Avivo Video Converter helps deliver video conversion at up to twice the speed of competing solutions, at just over half of the suggested retail price.(2)

A growing number of ISVs are also lining up to provide ATI Stream-enabled applications, including ArcSoft, a leading provider of innovative digital imaging technologies and multimedia solutions. The company plans to provide an update in December to its TotalMedia Theatre application that will includes ArcSoft SimHD(TM), a new type of post processing technology that allows consumers to experience close-to-HD viewing of standard definition content thanks to ATI Stream.

Another is CyberLink, an innovative software developer for digital media creation, playback, sharing, and enjoyment applications, has optimized its award-winning video editing software, PowerDirector 7. PowerDirector provides a robust set of features and functionality for capturing, editing and distributing HD video. The updated version, which is scheduled to be released in Q1 2009 will include ATI Stream accelerated video conversion, featuring performance and functionality exceeding that of the Avivo Video Converter.

To ensure easier development of ATI Stream enabled applications capable of running on platforms from multiple vendors, AMD is a member of the Khronos working group defining the OpenCL standard, and is evolving the ATI Stream SDK to be fully OpenCL compliant.

1. The pre-release version of ATI Avivo Video Converter demonstrates that ATI Stream technology allows video conversion that is faster than ever before. ATI Avivo Video Converter using ATI Stream technology converted an HD MPEG2 video at 1920x1080 resolution @ 24fps running 3600 seconds to an MPEG4 video at 320x240 resolution at 24 fps in 12 minutes, while iTunes 8.0.1 with WinQuickTimeMPEG2 pack converted the same source video to the same output specifications in 3 hours and 23 minutes, demonstrating a 17x speed up. System specifications: Intel Core 2 Duo QX9650 3.0 GHz processor, 6GB of Corsair CM2X1024-8500C5D 1066 MHz memory, Windows Vista Ultimate(R) 64-bit with Service Pack 1, ATI Radeon(TM) HD 4850 512MB. Performance of ATI Avivo Video Converter will vary based on system configuration, ATI Radeon product, source file and output settings used. ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre(TM) will include new functionality not yet seen in the form of ArcSoft SimHD(TM), a new type of post processing technology that allows consumers to experience close-to-HD viewing of standard definition content thanks to ATI Stream technology. Accelerated stream capabilities are dependent on enablement in individual software titles. Not all software is ATI Stream enabled, nor do all ATI Radeon graphics processors provide ATI Stream capabilities.

2. The combination of an ATI Radeon(TM) HD 4870 512MB graphics card ($246) + ATI Avivo(TM) Video Converter using ATI Stream technology (free) compared to the combination of GeForce(R) GTX 280 graphics card ($414) + Badaboom(TM) Media Converter 1.0 ($29.99) shows that an HD MPEG2 video at 1920x1080 resolution @ 29.97 fps, 19000 kb/s VBR and MPEG1 Layer2 48000HZ audio that runs 1 minute 31 seconds is converted to an AVC1-MPEG4 video at 1280x720 @ 29.97 fps, 7304 kbps with MPEG4 44100 Hz 160kb/s stereo audio on the AMD solution in 48 seconds, and is converted to an AVC1-MPEG4 video at 1280x720 resolution @ 29.97 fps, 7734kbps with MPEG4 48000Hz 62Kb/s stereo audio on the Nvidia/Badaboom solution in 113 seconds. Prices based on average Newegg.com pricing after mail-in rebates as of October 29, 2008. System specifications: AMD Phenom(TM) X4 9950 processor, MSI 790FX K9A2 Platinum motherboard, 2GB of Corsair CM2X1024-8500C5D 1066 MHz memory, Windows Vista Ultimate(R) 64-bit with Service Pack 1, Western Digital Raptor WD1500 hard drive, ATI Radeon(TM) HD 4870 512MB with ATI Catalyst(TM) version 8.9 and ATI Video Converter, or GeForce(R) GTX 280 with Badaboom(TM) Media Converter 1.0 and CUDA driver 178.08 INT. Performance will vary based on system configuration, ATI Radeon product, source file and output settings used.



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