A new solution from Cinemartin leverages pro and consumer Nvidia GPUs to achieve speedy 4K and HD encoding.
When the successor technology to the ubiquitous h.264 codec was standardised as h.265, we published an in-depth piece describing how its compression techniques built on its predecessor. In that piece, we discussed the key limiting factors in video compression. We discovered that the thing that keeps us from going further and further is not a lack of mathematical cleverness, at least not at the moment.
Instead, the main limiting factor is how difficult a codec is to decode, because the consumers who will receive the video content want their home electronics to be cheap. The aim with h.265 is that it will provide the same image quality at half the bitrate, with a maximum of three times the work required to decode it compared to h.264. This seems like a bad deal – three times the work for twice the effectiveness – but it's a good use for general advances in microelectronics, even if that 2:1 advantage isn't quite always seen in practice.
What's often overlooked is the difficulty of encoding material. On one hand, that's sort of OK, because content creators only need to do it once, whereas it'll be decoded many times. On the other, well, every video chat application needs to encode video and that's hard work. Every codec since Cinepak, of the early 1990s, has been highly asymmetrical, requiring a lot more work to encode than decode, and that remains the case with h.265. Recognising this, the designers made specific decisions to allow it to be more easily encoded on multi-core systems, which were uncommon at the time h.264 was developed, but are par for the course now.
Faster-than-realtime 4K encoding?
Taking advantage of this, particularly in respect of the enormous core counts offered by modern graphics cards, is Barcelona-based Cinemartin. It's tricky company to describe, with offerings ranging from a 15mm rod baseplate to various After Effects and Premiere plugins. Its most recent announcement concerns an HEVC encoder for its Cinec transcoding platform that's designed to use Nvidia GPUs, including both the Quadro series and the lower-cost GTX cards. Performance, as demonstrated in its video presentation (below), indicates faster-than-realtime encoding for 4K material and performance of several times realtime for HD. Encoding 4K h.265 is very hard work and standalone devices dedicated to the task are expensive.
There's always a need for caution in codec comparisons, of course. Most codecs can be set up to operate quickly and coarsely and there is no absolutely reliable way to compare the output of competing encoders. Sheer signal-to-noise numbers can be misleading, in terms of how the pictures look subjectively to humans. General-purpose applications for GPUs are no longer particularly new or exciting as an approach, although that's certainly the key to performance, in this case, and that faster-than-realtime result for 4K material is likely to turn heads, especially since it's shown on a GTX 980 graphics card worth only a few hundred units of currency.
If there's a more general thread to be drawn from this, it's the irresistible encroachment of software and general-purpose computers into realms previously occupied by expensive boxes. There are downsides to this, mainly because workstations and operating systems and software are, in combination, often less reliable than a fixed piece of custom-built electronics. The cost-benefit analysis, however, tends to obliterate those concerns fairly handily.
Check out the full press release for the Cinemartin HEVC encoder on Page Two!
Full press release
BARCELONA, Spain, Oct. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Cinemartin, the team that develops the leading conversion / transcoding encoders for Microsoft Windows O. Systems (Cinemartin Cinec) as well as plugins for Adobe Premiere and After Effects (Plin PR, Plin AE), Master Bundle solutions, the advanced & high effective fast standalone Video Denoiser, MyBD: the Blu-ray converter / decoder, the X-Y adjustable universal 15mm baseplate and as well as the 4K portable palm-size 4K Recorder - Monitor - Computer; NEXT 4K, now is proud to announce a joint venture collaboration with NVIDIA Corp. to provide World Fastest H.265 Encoder platform software based for NVidia GPU's.
NVIDIA GForce and QUADRO users will be able to convert videos to last generation HEVC H.265 codec at world fastest speeds*, just convert a 7 minutes FullHD video to HEVC in only 1 minute, or convert 1 minute of 4K to H.265 in just 30 seconds.
The P-Module, from Paralelism, developed by Cinemartin, provides 4K encodes in 2X twice realtime speed, and 7X in Full HD 1080P (1920x1080) resolutions.
This will provide 100X faster encoding speeds than CPU based solutions.
Differentiating with others, while the competitors offering realtime H.265 conversions requires or sell the solution as a expensive Hardware based systems, Cinemartin HEVC H.265 NVIDIA encoding solution (providing Prores conversions as well as other pro. codecs) will be delivered as a software license solution, providing twice the performance of its hardware competitors, and with the only requirement of the customer to have any of the last (this 2015 year) NVIDIA Maxwell 2nd gen card; 960, 970, 980, 980TI, Titan X, and QUADRO M4000, M5000, M6000 series at much affordable cost.
Cinemartin will release more info, videos and demo / tryouts of the app/module this 4th quarter of 2015. P-Module will be available as a purchase option for existing Cinec 4.X customers. At the date of launch, Cinec 4.5 will be released as well, providing some new enhancements and features.
Watch the P-Module preview tech including sample footage conversions from https://youtu.be/4WyZSOiWFSQ
More info on Cinemartin website and Cinemartin facebook notes
*Cinemartin claims they reach and provide World Fastest Speed in transcoding to H.265 for a solution based on any Computer system with any NVIDIA Maxwell 2nd gen card in a Windows PC computer with provided Cinemartin Software (Cinemartin Cinec + Cinemartin P-Module 1.0)