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Old April 20th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #1
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Matrox - H.264 accelerator board (PCIe 1x)

For the compressionists in the house Matrox just released an impressive board that accelerates the render. In a demo today, a rep showed me a side by side comparision of two Mac Pro's 2.8ghz. Both were about to make a H.264 quicktime from an 1920 HD source. The Mac Pro with the Matrox board compressed 3x faster! I couldn't believe it.
For my line of work, this is huge. I asked to see the CPU meter while the Mac Pro w/ matrox was compressing. Sure enough, virtually no usage - all done on the Hardware from Matrox. The board comes with Compressor presets which tell it to use the Matrox resource - I wasn't exactly sure how this was done.

As an owner of both the MXO 1 and MXO 2, I brought up my biggest frustration to the lead designer. These products do not co-exists. If you have both installed on the same mac, the MXO2 takes priority, rendering the MXO1 useless. He said he didn't expect to see this fixed. Pity.

Anyway, I'm going to get one of these boards as soon as I can. I think he said it was est. at 500.00

More info here: Matrox Compress HD - Key features

-C
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Old April 21st, 2009, 03:22 AM   #2
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I just took a look at the specifications. It looks great. when they start shipping next month I will certainly be buying two (one for me & one for my wife).

Cheers

Nigel
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Old April 21st, 2009, 06:44 PM   #3
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Something else I forgot to mention. The lead dev guy said it also will accelerate MP4 creation / renders. So, maybe they will develop a FCP setting which will help XDCAM users.

I asked him about x.264 - it is not supported and of course you are SOL for MPEGII.

-C
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Old May 19th, 2009, 11:02 AM   #4
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Before shelling out $495 for this new Matrox board I would like to hear exactly what it offers over the Elgato Turbo.264 HD for just $150 Turbo264HD overview

I just took delivery of one of these Elgato gizmos today & it is just fantastic. Creating an 1920x1080p MP4 file is fantastically quick. I reckon creation is about in real time or up to 8-10x faster than without the gizmo.

It has its own little conversion application but most usefully it is integrated into all the applications that can use Quicktime as an output format e.g. MPEGStreamclip, iMovie, FCP etc So you just choose the Elgato. There are load of pre-sets for iPod, YouTube etc but you can create completely customised pre-sets too & specify the bit rate, video resolution, audio etc.

It's so good that I have had to order another so that my wife & I don't have to fight fight over it.
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Old May 21st, 2009, 04:02 AM   #5
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Woah! Terrible USB Memory Key interface but Woah!
When the CompressHD ships I'd love to see a side by side.

Nigel can you confirm there is a compressor preset?
-C
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Old May 21st, 2009, 08:57 AM   #6
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Hey Nigel

Basically Compress HD / Matrox MAX technology is directly targeting the higher end. Heres the low down:

Integrates directly into QuickTime framework via standard QuickTime codec component, so it works off the bat without any stand alone application such as is needed with Elgato's Turbo H.264 line (and without any special SDK required for developers to add support for it within their apps).

PCIe vs USB interface means data handling for HD encoding tasks much faster.

Supports encoding at much higher bitrates (Compress HD offers up to 50 Mbps max versus Elagto's 10 Mbps max).

Integration with professional apps such as Compressor and Qmaster, so lends itself well to Compressor workflows (seem to remember Turbo H.264 doesn't work within Compressor?) and of course the promise of blazingly fast encodes on render farms with multiple Compress HD / Matrox MAX units.

I'm also told it has hardware scaling, deinterlacing and color space conversions ... certainly thats the case in the Matrox MAX tech on the MXO2 series, am not 100% clear if thats also on the Compress HD but it seems so according to the info I was passed.

Directly addresses (aka fixes) the QuickTime H264 gamma issue.


Hope it helps. Looks like an awesome unit ... fwiw I've always loved the Elgato Turbo H.264 and their HD unit is something I've been waiting for a looong time, but they're just a tad too late to market. I'll wait for the Compress HD / Matrox MAX now.

Hope its insightful
Andy
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Old May 21st, 2009, 11:36 AM   #7
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Andy, thanks for the detailed explanation & I am glad to hear that the Matrox board does appear to have some significant advantages over the Elgato Turbo.264 HD to justify the considerably higher price.

It's clear that the Matrox is designed for high end use & the Elgato for consumer level. The Matrox for Blu-Ray mastering & the Elgato for web HD e.g. Vimeo, YouTube etc. I am happy with that differentiation as I am not creating Blu-Ray but am creating video for the web.

The Elgato device appears as just another QT option so can be used directly from FCP with Export>Using QuickTime Conversion. It can be accessed from other applications e.g. iMovie & MPEGStreamclip so thus far I have not used the Elgato application at all. It is however not integrated into Compressor or Qmaster so you cannot use it with those applications so you cannot set up an Elgato powered render farm.

An enormous amount of customisation of the H.264 output can be done (see pages 12-14 of the attached user guide) but the maximum bit rate is 10Mbps at 1920x1080.

Currently for our use the Matrox unit would be overkill so I am glad to have found the Elgato device at less than 1/3 of the price. If in the future our needs change then the Matrox device looks like a great unit too.

Cheers

Nigel
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Turbo.264 HD Manual.pdf (3.20 MB, 443 views)
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Old May 21st, 2009, 11:45 AM   #8
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If I heard this right, my main concern for this board is it ties entirely to CS4. So you have to use AME to make use of this board. Then it got me wondered.. if Adobe releases new updates or new version, you will have to be stucked at Matrox slow update on drive to get it to work.

I just wish they will come up it's own API so I can install this on a separate machine that doesn't have CS4.
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Old May 21st, 2009, 04:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
The Elgato device appears as just another QT option so can be used directly from FCP with Export>Using QuickTime Conversion. It can be accessed from other applications e.g. iMovie & MPEGStreamclip so thus far I have not used the Elgato application at all. It is however not integrated into Compressor or Qmaster so you cannot use it with those applications so you cannot set up an Elgato powered render farm.
Any chances it shows up as a QuickTime Component like Flip4Mac does in Compressor?
See attached screenshot to verify.
Thanks,
-C
Attached Thumbnails
Matrox - H.264 accelerator board (PCIe 1x)-picture-2.png  
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 01:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Drews View Post
Any chances it shows up as a QuickTime Component like Flip4Mac does in Compressor?
I just checked & Elgato Turbo.264 HD does appear as an option. I don't know if this means it is fully integrated into Compressor as I somehow doubt whether it is going to work properly with Qmaster & multiple threads. I will check it out later & report back.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 08:53 AM   #11
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I have just done some quick testing with the Elgato Turbo.264 HD & Compressor. It appears to work remarkably well up to a point. I created a custom pre-set specifying the Turbo.264 as QT Export Component. On my 8-core Mac Pro I only see it operating on one file at a time (8 files being processed in one batch batch job but only one active file at a time). Perhaps not surprising as I have just the one device. I was able to use a filter apply a time code to a clip but none of the other filters to do with colour or cropping worked.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 02:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
I have just done some quick testing with the Elgato Turbo.264 HD & Compressor. It appears to work remarkably well up to a point. I created a custom pre-set specifying the Turbo.264 as QT Export Component. On my 8-core Mac Pro I only see it operating on one file at a time (8 files being processed in one batch batch job but only one active file at a time). Perhaps not surprising as I have just the one device. I was able to use a filter apply a time code to a clip but none of the other filters to do with colour or cropping worked.
This is great news Nigel.. Actually, compressor always has had a "one at a time" job queue.
This is a deal breaker for me for CompressHD - no reason to purchase something for $500.00 when Turbo.264 HD @ $150.00 works in Compressor as a Component.

Just build your custom preset in Compressor and way you go. Honestly, why would I need 50 Mbps for H.264 anyway? That in my mind doesn't necessitate the cost increase of $350.00 - especially in this economy. Just my 2.
-C
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 11:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Drews View Post
This is great news Nigel.. Actually, compressor always has had a "one at a time" job queue.
True, but when it is just using the CPU of a multi-core Mac it can work on several files at the same time & this can be easily seen in Batch Manager. When you are using the Elgato device device just one file at a time is operated on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Drews View Post
Just build your custom preset in Compressor and way you go. Honestly, why would I need 50 Mbps for H.264 anyway?
That's my feeling too. Even if the quality weren't quite as good as using the Matrox part or Compressor alone it would still be useful for running off quick 'draft' copies of the final output for review. I haven't compared the quality side by side between Compressor created H.264 & Elgato create dH.264 but at a casual glance it looks fine.
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Old May 23rd, 2009, 01:08 AM   #14
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Just picked one up at The Apple Store today and ran some quick tests on my MPB (2.5, 4GB RAM)

Here's my thoughts:
PROS:
1) Fast! 4x Faster than standard compressor in my test.
2) Works as Preset under QuickTime Components - Saves all settings
3) LED lights up while compressing - Cool!
3) Good Value

CONS:
1) I believe this device is "Single Pass" - see attached screen shot to verify this. There is no setting to choose different like standard H.264. Sizable quality difference between single pass and double pass (of course).
2) Flimsy USB - It just feels like a cheap consumer memory key. It tends to rock in the USB slot.
3) Lastly, and concerning, my CPU is still running full on my MBP during the compression process.

Next, I'll test it in my 8-Core and then my Hackintosh. See attached for customizable settings in Compressor.
-C
Attached Thumbnails
Matrox - H.264 accelerator board (PCIe 1x)-picture-11.png   Matrox - H.264 accelerator board (PCIe 1x)-settings_turbo_hd.jpg  

Matrox - H.264 accelerator board (PCIe 1x)-picture-10.png  
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Old May 23rd, 2009, 03:38 AM   #15
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This is great info and much appreciated.
Does anyone have any sample encodes posted anywhere that I could download? The Elgato might be an ideal fit for HD newsgathering ... looks like it could be a good recommend.
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