GPU computing is something which is fast becoming a very important feature on "video" cards. NVIDIA have a number of useful utilities for CUDA enabled cards which all help to enhance the performance of day to day tasks. AMD also have utilities such as AVIVO for converting video, designed to off-load CPU intensive tasks to the GPU. Here we have taken a few examples of the different technologies at work to find out how the GTX 580 benefits us in real world use.
Windows Drag and Drop Transfer
The GTX 460/Radeon 6850 are able to take advantage of GPU acceleration for transfers to compatible media players. This means that when we copy a video file to a player Windows recognises if the format is compatible or not. If a conversion is needed we are asked if we would like to convert and copy as one task and should we choose yes the system uses our GPU to enhance performance. This makes the task more simple than converting and copying as two separate tasks, quicker and often cheaper as we don’t need to buy a 3rd party utility to convert the files.
Our test file is a 42 minute AVI file.
Badaboom / Avivo
Avivo Video Convertor is bundled with the Catalyst driver sets and is free, it enables the conversion of video from one format to another with assistance from the GPU. NVIDIA also have an equivalent in the form of Badaboom.
Using Avivo Video Convertor and Badaboom we converted a short AVI file to the best quality iPod format.
In the above scenarios both GPUs are able to improve on the performance we see when using the CPU only. Then of the two cards tested the GTX 460 has slightly better performance in both tests though the gap is very small.