Among computer enthusiasts the name Leadtek is synonymous with performance and quality. Founded in 1986, this Taiwanese company specializes in the design and manufacture of graphics and multimedia solutions. While best known for their mainstream and workstation-class graphics cards, Leadtek offers a variety of other products including TV tuners, video capture devices, GPS modules, videophones and video surveillance cameras.
While MPEG-2 was the de facto video standard for many years, the growing demand for high-def content has resulted in a number of new formats. One of the more promising developments is the H.264 standard. Utilizing the latest video compression technology, H.264 delivers the same quality as MPEG-2 at a third to half the bit rate. This allows you to create much smaller video files which require less network bandwidth and storage space.
There is one down-side to the H.264 standard: it's very resource intensive. Even with a high-end computer, it can take a considerable amount of time to encode HD video with even a moderate bit rate. To speed things up, Leadtek developed the WinFast PxVC1100 MPEG-2/H.264 transcoding card. This low profile PCI Express card features Toshiba’s SpursEngine SE1000 processor, which is designed to encode video at high speeds and improve the quality of video playback.
Toshiba’s SpursEngine SE1000 processor is powered by four Synergistic Processing Element (SPE) cores based on the "Cell Broadband Engine." These processing elements are fed by on-chip H.264 and MPEG-2 codecs and controlled by the host CPU. To enable smoother interaction between the host and the SpursEngine, Toshiba has also integrated a simple proprietary 32-bit control core (XIO) and 128MB of dedicated XDR DRAM memory.
A number of software companies have already pledged support for Toshiba's SpursEngine technology. Along with Corel and CRI Middleware, one of the biggest backers of the technology is Pegasys, Inc. They have developed a SpursEngine movie plug-in for their TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress software which is available separately or bundled with Leadtek's PxVC1100 transcoding card.