Mobile Sandy Bridge QuickSync and 3DMarks

Anand has provided plenty of coverage of transcoding quality in the desktop SNB review, using Arcsoft’s Media Encoder 7. For the mobile side of things, we’ll turn to CyberLink’s MediaEspresso 6—a similar package that’s useful for quick encodes of movies for YouTube or mobile device consumption. NVIDIA has been touting the benefits of GPU acceleration for such tasks for over a year now, with CUDA making a fairly decent showing. MediaEspresso also supports CUDA acceleration, making for a nice head-to-head, though I’m limited to hardware that I still have on hand.

For the encoding test, I’ve grabbed two other recently reviewed notebooks to show how they compare to Sandy Bridge. The first is ASUS’ mainstream N53JF notebook, sporting an i5-460M and GT 425M GPU. For the higher performance notebook offering, we’ve got ASUS’ G73Jw with i7-740QM and GTX 460M. [Ed: Sorry for the delay in shipping it back, ASUS—it will go out this week now that we’re done with Sandy Bridge testing!] I used a 720p shot with an iPod Touch and transcoded it to a 2Mb 720p YouTube compatible stream. MediaEspresso also has some video quality enhancement features available, dubbed TrueTheater AutoLight, Denoise, and HD. I ran the transcode tests with and without the enhancements enabled, with and without QuickSync/GPU acceleration. Since MediaEspresso also supports ATI GPUs, I tossed in results from my i7-920 with CrossFire HD 5850 as well.

Accelerated MediaEspresso Encoding

CPU-Based MediaEspresso Encoding

Accelerated MediaEspresso Enhanced Encoding

CPU-Based MediaEspresso Enhanced Encoding

First things first, I’d say it’s fair to state that the GPU acceleration for AMD GPUs (at least in this particular instance) isn’t as good as NVIDIA’s CUDA or Intel’s QuickSync. Perhaps future driver, hardware, and/or software updates will change the picture, but the HD 5850 cards in my desktop fail to impress. The CUDA results for GTX 460M are quite good, while the GT 425M was roughly on par with CPU encoding on a quad-core (plus Hyper-Threading) processor. Finally, Intel’s Sandy Bridge manages to easily eclipse any of the other systems—with or without QuickSync.

Using pure CPU encoding, the 2820QM finishes the transcode in 15% less time than a desktop i7-920, and 44% less time than the i7-740QM. Enabling all of the extra TrueTheater enhancements definitely has an impact on performance (and depending on the video source may or may not be worthwhile). Sandy Bridge still required 8% less time than i7-920, and 36% less time than i7-740QM, never mind the i5-460M that requires 134% longer to accomplish the same task.

Switch on all of the GPU acceleration support (including QuickSync, which isn’t technically a GPU feature) and all of the times drop, some substantially. The basic transcode on SNB finishes in a blisteringly fast 10 seconds—this is a 1:33 minute clip with 30FPS content, so the transcode happens at roughly 280FPS (wow!). GTX 260M comes in next at 17 seconds (174FPS), then CrossFire 5850 ends up needing three times longer than SNB and almost twice as long as the mobile GTX 460M, and GT 425M brings up the rear at twice the time of the HD 5850. With the TrueTheater features enabled, the CPU appears to do a lot more work and the GTX 460M and Sandy Bridge are both over an order of magnitude slower.

This is obviously a huge in for Intel, but of course it all depends on how often you happen to transcode videos—and how patient you happen to be. I do it seldom enough that even running encodes on my old quad-core Kentsfield CPU doesn’t particularly bother me; I just set up the transcodes in TMPGEnc Express and walk away, and they’re usually done when I return. If on the other hand you’re the type that lives in the social networks and Twitter feeds, being able to get your video up on YouTube five to ten times faster (without a significant loss in quality, at least based on my iPod Touch experience) is definitely useful.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

Futuremark 3DMark05

One final item to quickly cover is synthetic graphics performance, courtesy of 3DMark. Sandy Bridge places in the middle of the pack, and obviously desktop solutions are far out of reach for the time being, but according to 3DMark we could see performance actually surpass some of the entry-level GPUs. Maybe 3DMark just has heavy optimizations from Intel…then again, maybe they actually do have a GPU that can compete.

Mobile Sandy Bridge Application Performance Mobile Sandy Bridge Gaming Performance
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    All of the mobile chips list AES/TXT/vPRO support, unlike the desktop chips. They also all support Quick Sync and have 12 EUs. Reply
  • DesktopMan - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    What about virtualization? Not sure why you are mentioning vPro, the requirement for vPro is usually the chipset, in this case QM67. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    They don't specifically break out VT-d and VT-x on the mobile products; all the slides state is that the mobile products support virtualization. On the desktop slide, they have a line saying "vPro/TXT/VT-d/SIPP" but on mobile slides the line says "AES/TXT/vPro". There's a second line for both desktops and mobile chips that just says "Intel Virtualization Technology" but it's not too useful since it just says "Yes" on every single Sandy Bridge CPU listed. :-\ Reply
  • Hrel - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    finally gaming on IG. Sooo, when do new Nvidia Gpu's come out for laptops? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    Check back on Jan 6. :-p Reply
  • mobomonster - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    AMD is toast. Those are blistering performance numbers that even I did not expect. Incredible that it manages near 30 fps in several games at medium detail settings.

    The lower power dual core Sandy Bridge models will really put the squeeze on AMD. Even a regular 2520M will give AMD's Brazos a lot of trouble.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    Bah, AMD has been toast for years now, if they really were, they would be buttered and eaten already.

    yes, horrible metaphor is horrible.
    Reply
  • Kangal - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    I'm a tech enthusiast especially in the portable device scene, and I always nit-pick things.
    Which is the reason why I own the Acer 4810TG.

    The Core i7 640-UM would be my favourite processor, until I saw this.
    The successor, 2657M, seems to have (theoretical) performance improvement of 19% and battery saving of 6%, which is very amazing.

    From pure guestimation, this is ~200% (or slightly more) performance of the SU7300 at the same battery life. Whoa!

    This would mean new ultra-portable devices (less than 14" and over 6 hours battery life).
    If this gets partnered with the ATi 5650 (or its successor), this will bring serious gaming potential to ultra-portable devices *drools*

    ------

    BUT, I wish they could add another chip on that (ULV) list.
    The exact same thing as the i7 2657M but tossing the dual-core setup for a single core, if it meant they could increase the down the battery life by 70%. (Name it the 1357M?)

    I mean, how about real 10 hours battery life (6 cell) on something about as fast as the SU7300 ??

    Something like that (Core i7 1357M?) could make Windows7 tablets a more viable option.
    Reply
  • davepermen - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    I'd prefer a dualcore with 1ghz, or even 800mhz. as it could still clock to 2ghz or so, it would be fast when needed, but very battery saving else.

    if intel would go down further, it would most likely by now kill atom in the netbook and tablet area. and in the phone area, atom isn't there yet.

    personally, i hate atom for being in the way. ultralow core i1 would be AWESOME.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    SpeedStep lets all the SNB processors (mobile versions at least) run at 800MHz when they're not doing anything else. So you've already got what you're asking for, more or less. Reply

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