Sandy Bridge Media Engine

Sitting alongside the GPU is Sandy Bridge’s Media processor. Media processing in SNB is composed of two major components: video decode, and video encode.

The hardware accelerated decode engine is improved from the current generation: the entire video pipeline is now decoded via fixed function units. This is contrast to Intel’s current design that uses the EU array for some video decode stages. As a result, Intel claims that SNB processor power is cut in half for HD video playback.

The video encode engine is a brand new addition to Sandy Bridge. Intel is being light on the details of the encoder but we saw a demo where Intel took a ~3 minute 1080p 30Mbps source video and transcoded it to a 640 x 360 iPhone video format. The total process took 14 seconds and completed at a rate of roughly 400 frames per second.

Given Intel’s close relationship with many software vendors who work on video transcoding, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw decent support for SNB’s video encoding engine at launch. At 400 fps we’re well in the realm of high end GPU encoding performance, despite being run on a 3mm^2 piece of the Sandy Bridge die.

Sandy Bridge Graphics New, More Aggressive Turbo


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  • iwodo - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    Many questions still not answered, may be Anand could found out for us.

    1. Were the GPU performance we saw from 6 EU or 12 EU?
    2. Where is FMA ( Fused Multiply Add ) ? Will we see it in Ivy Bridge?
    3. Can All software developers access the Decoding Engine? We could see many codec being optimized for playback on Intel Hardware Decoder, whether it is fully supported codec or partially supported codec.
    4. Hardware Encoder? It is Full Hardware encoder? Free to use for Software Dev?
    5. OpenCL not possible?
    6. How many % die size is given to Graphics?
    7. Gfx Drivers, will Intel commit more resources on drivers update? Or Will they open sources it?

    Apart from Sandy Bridge, Looking forward for reports on USB 3.0 situations, LightPeak, Gen 3 SSD.
  • trivik12 - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    1) I believe it was 12EU part.
    2) FMA will be introduced with Haswell(next tock). So we have to wait until early 2013 for that.
  • Foo999 - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    > 2. Where is FMA ( Fused Multiply Add ) ? Will we see it in Ivy Bridge?

    You can check out the full current (and Ivy Bridge) AVX instructions in the AVX reference manual available from
  • spart - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    1 , 6UE The 12 is only for laptops and high ranges Reply
  • gvaley - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    So, was it playable, I mean Starcraft II? Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    Yeah, the caption said "310M vs Sandy Bridge" so I assume you could see the settings and frames per second. Details, man, details!!

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    Yes, it was playable at medium quality settings. They only had the single player campaign running however.

    Take care,
  • Carleh - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    With BCLK locked, where does that leave the motherboard manufacturers?
    I mean, what are they left to offer to enthusiasts, if the BCLK is locked? How are they going to differentiate an enthusiast-class motherboard from a mainstream one?
  • ssj4Gogeta - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    Will they be locking the socket 2011 parts as well? Reply
  • Zoomer - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    Sell more bullbozer boards. I was all set to be ready to get a nice Sandy Bridge and overclock it to hell, but now I think I'll get a bulldozer instead.

    Sure there's the K, but it costs more. That kinda defeats the point, unless the aim is to get a high clk for epeen.

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