Intel's Sandy Bridge Architecture Exposedby Anand Lal Shimpi on September 14, 2010 4:10 AM EST
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.