There are few things more processor intensive than working with video content. Encoding or transcoding to your favorite formats can be a long and painful process if you don’t have a state of the art computer. Today, we are looking at a product that can help speed things up, the Leadtek PxVC1100.
The PxVC1100 is a high performance MPEG-2/H.264 transcoding card that makes quick work of some CPU intensive tasks, such as:
Some of these features sound really great, and if it can reduce the amount of time it takes to get the final results it’s even better!
|Chipset||Toshiba SpursEngine BXA32110|
|Hardware Interface||PCI Express Plug-n-Play compliant|
|Graphics drivers must include DirectX 8.1 software Video Standards|
|Connectors||Power from Power supply|
|Package Contents||PxVC1100 Card x1|
|4 Pin Power cable|
|Software pack CD (include Driver and TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress)|
|Quick Installation Guide|
|Low profile bracket|
|Minimum System Requirements||Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 1.6GHz or higher required, P4 3.0 GHz recommended|
|256MB of system memory (512MB recommended)|
|Windows XP SP2/ Vista|
|500 MB free hard disk space for installation, additional space required for video capture and Time-shifting|
|VGA card/chipset with full support for DirectX 8.1, full support for DirectX 9.0 required for HDTV|
|DirectX 9.0c or higher installed|
|AC 97 compatible sound card/chipset for audio playback|
|Available PCI-E slot|
The reason it can do all of this is because it utilizes a slimmed down version of the Cell processor, the heart of the PS3 gaming console.
The Cell processor is capable of some impressive video processing, and Toshiba has taken the Cell and modified it into a multi-media powerhouse, which they call the Spurs Engine. The model that we’re using comes from Toshiba in the form of the SE 1000. The SE 1000 uses 4 of the 8 available SPE’s from the Cell. Two of the missing SPE’s are replaced with hardware MPEG-2 encoder and decoders.
The other two SPE’s were replaced with hardware H.264 encoder and decoders. The four SPE’s in the SpursEngine are clocked at 1.5GHz, peaking at 48 Gflops, and 12Gflops per SPU. The processor is capable of 8, 16, or 32 bit integer calculations and either single or double precision floating point calculation. DMAC and MMU functions are also supported. Each SPE has 256 KB of local memory and four XDR DRAM are used, giving a total of 128MB memory on a 32-bit data width, providing 12.8 GB/s bandwidth. All this processing power comes with little cost, consuming approximately 10W of power!
The card itself is quite small. It uses a PCI-e 1x connection to interface with the motherboard, so you can tell it’s not using a lot of bandwidth. On the top leading edge you can see a power floppy type power connector. Obviously, with such a small connector this thing isn’t going to be drawing too much power. As mentioned earlier, ~10 watts is about max.
One thing to note is that on X58 and P55 motherboards you will have to install it in one of the slots that gets PCI-e lanes from the ICH10 chipset. There is an incompatibility with the new Intel P55 and X58 chipsets and the PxVC1100 which Toshiba has been working to resolve. These chipsets use the Intel QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) to interface to peripheral devices. These chipsets also support processors with an integrated memory controller (IMC), so the X58 does not have a memory interface. Either of these new chipset/processor features are likely the reason this transcoding card isn’t playing nice with them as it was built before these chipsets were released.
On the backside of the card you can see the three screws holding the heat sink on but there really isn’t anything else to note here.
We decided to get a look at the processor itself. As you can see it’s quite small, but as with most processors these days, big performance lies in small packages!