Mostly No QuickSync

One of the most significant features of Intel's Sandy Bridge CPU is Quick Sync, the hardware assisted video transcode engine. In our review we found it to be better than any of the currently available GPU based transcoding methods and far better than just running the transcode operation on your CPU. While Quick Sync's performance/quality in the pro space is unproven, there's simply no better way of taking your existing video content and transcoding it for use on mobile devices like an iPhone or an iPad.

Given how well Quick Sync is suited for moving content between i-devices it's surprising that Apple doesn't tout it as a feature of the new 2011 MacBook Pros. Not only is Quick Sync not featured by Apple, it's not supported by any Apple application other than FaceTime.

That means iMovie and QuickTime rely on CPU based video encoding and not Quick Sync.

Apple has traditionally been very conservative with adopting new hardware features in software (ahem, TRIM). I'm worried that we may not see Quick Sync in iMovie until the 2012 version, however once the rest of the Mac lineup moves to Sandy Bridge maybe the incentive to introduce it sooner will be there.

Apple does claim support for Quick Sync in FaceTime however CPU utilization is still very high when using FaceTime HD:

Depending on available upstream bandwidth I saw between 50 and 100% CPU utilization of a single core while running FaceTime. According to Apple, FaceTime HD wasn't possible on a dual-core machine without the SNB video encoder. As to why we're seeing such high CPU utilization even with hardware accelerated encode and decode, your guess is as good as mine.

What About The 13? 6Gbps SATA
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  • tipoo - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Its a shame that their base 15 inch, a 2000 dollar laptop, has a 256MB card by default. Even for non-gamers, that's starting to become a bottleneck. Especailly as this "pro" machine will make it into the hands of creative professionals, doing video work, rendering, mudbox, etc.

    Interesting about the performance differences in the HD3000 and 320M under Windows vs OSX.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    p.s whats an SNB GPU? Is that a typo? SB, perhaps? Reply
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    When we say that, we're just referring to the Sandy Bridge (SNB) GPU. Essentially it's shorthand for the Intel HD Graphics 3000.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    The official short form for Sandy Bridge is SNB, not SB. SB is South Bridge. Reply
  • dcollins - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    For some reason Sandy Bridge is alway abbreviated as SNB. It took me a while to figure out. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    The baseline 15" MBP is $1800, not $2000.

    In any case, it is an unusual update. Usually the performance delta between MBPs hasn't been so extreme. The last generation had a common GPU between all 15" models, the main difference being video RAM. Now they have completely different GPUs, one being REALLY fast and the other not much better than the one that was in the models from last year.
    Reply
  • saleem.kh - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    Dear, please consider approximately 9.5% US Sales Tax on $1,799. Then total price reaches to $2,000 approx Reply
  • PeteH - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    There is no such thing as US Sales Tax, only state and local sales taxes. State rates range from a low of 0% to a high of 8.25% (I don't happen to know the range of local sales taxes). Adding 9.5% to the price of a computer seems completely arbitrary. Reply
  • turtle44 - Thursday, June 02, 2011 - link

    sales tax in NY,NY is 11% don't say what you don't know. Reply
  • sfdiesel - Monday, July 25, 2011 - link

    Sales tax in Portland, OR is 0%. So, adding 9.5% to the price of a computer does seem completely arbitrary.

    Do say what you don't know.
    Reply

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