Intel's hardware accelerated video transcode engine, Quick Sync, was introduced two years ago with Sandy Bridge. When it was introduced, I was immediately sold. With proper software support you could transcode content at frame rates that were multiple times faster than even the best GPU based solutions. And you could do so without taxing the CPU cores. 
While Quick Sync wasn't meant for high quality video encoding for professional production, it produced output that was more than good enough for use on a smartphone or tablet. Given the incredible rise in popularity of those devices over recent history and given that an increasing number of consumers moved to notebooks as primary PCs, a fast way of transcoding content without needing tons of CPU cores was exactly what the market needed.
There was just one problem with Quick Sync: it had zero support in the open source community. The open source x264 codec didn't support Quick Sync, and by extension applications like Handbrake didn't either. You had to rely on Cyberlink's Media Espresso or ArcSoft's Media Converter. Last week, Intel put the ball in motion to change all of this. 
With the release of the Intel Media SDK 2013, Intel open sourced its dispatcher code. The dispatcher simply detects what driver is loaded on the machine and returns whether or not the platform supports hardware or software based transcoding. The dispatcher is the final step before handing off a video stream to the graphics driver for transcoding, but previously it was a proprietary, closed source piece of code. For open source applications whose license requires that all components contained within the package are open source as well, the Media SDK 2013 should finally enable Quick Sync support. I believe that this was the last step in enabling Quick Sync support in applications like Handbrake.
I'm not happy with how long it took Intel to make this move, but I hope to see the results of it very soon. 


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  • tdtran1025 - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    This may have been true in the past because they found (collectively) AMD and NVidia solutions did not offer substantial gains in transcoding time. Now QS is the game changer and so reflect the attitudes of said "clowns". Reply
  • Montago - Thursday, March 7, 2013 - link

    I read about that too... the Handbrake people are jerks... Maybe because they are French ?...

    I've read tons of forums and articles about people wanting GPU power to HandBrake - and everytime the HandBrake/x264 people shoot it down (with good reasons sometimes)

    I'm pretty sure that nothing will happen, that Handbrake and x264 will continue to be CPU only.
  • MonkeyPaw - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    I do enjoy QuickSync, as I specifically wanted the HD 3000 i3 for this very task. I was disappointed I could not use QS on Ubuntu and that Intel offered no support. My guess is that Intel wants full exposure of QS so that their SDP chips have the most market penetration possible. QS on Android perhaps? Reply
  • Guspaz - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    If QuickSync is still not available to anybody using a discrete graphics card, few desktop users will be able to access it.

    I'll wind up in the bizarre situation where my IvyBridge MacBook Air will be able to transcode video much faster than my desktop i7 3770k system with a GeForce GTX 670.
  • babgvant - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    DX11 supporting GPUs don't need a connected display to enumerate, so it will work headless (or disconnected). Reply
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Last time I tried to enable both the iGPU and discrete GPU in the BIOS, my system decided to stop sending video signals to any output (on either the iGPU or discrete card), requiring a CMOS reset to get the thing booting again. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    Most desktop motherboards come with Lucid Virtu MVP these days, so desktop users with discrete cards can access QuickSync through d-Mode. However that's only for self-built systems; I can't recall ever seeing Virtu with an OEM system, which is what most customers are buying. Reply
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    My Z77 mobo didn't come with a Virtu license. Reply
  • danjw - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    Well Intel should have done this when Sandy Bridge was released, but I am glad that they are doing it now. Makes me happier that I just upgraded to Ivy Bridge! Reply
  • edlee - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    I love quicksync, I use it all the time to make smaller size video file for my android tablet when I am traveling .

    I upgraded to ivy bridge from sandy bridge to get the speed boost for transcoding. Nothing comes close right now.

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