Badaboom 1.1.1 ReviewZertz - April 7, 2009
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Just a few years ago, digital media, movies and other video content were mostly stored on optical storage, as hard drives we're relatively expensive and the idea of watching video somewhere other than in the living room sounded kind of weird. Nowadays, the concept of always staying online and carrying data with you, whether for entertainment or business, has become widely popular. Not only that, but you can also easily and, more importantly, legally acquire digital content online. Unfortunately, converting digital media from one format to another has always been a lengthy and often painful process. It takes a while on two or even four cores, let alone a single core. That's until the GPGPU, General Purpose Graphical Processing Unit, came into play. Graphic cards have a bunch of smaller cores that are optimized for processing pixels, so why not exploit them to their full extent. Basically, they took the massively parallel video card architecture and designed a way to use it just as if it was a regular processor. What does this mean? Potentially much quicker calculations than if the work was being done on a processor. This chart, which nVidia probably enjoys looking at, really shows how much raw power is available on GPU's. Unfortunately, it's a hard to tame the beast and only appropriate for specific applications.
Cost, energy efficiency and performance per watt are all important considerations in today's computing world and there is a lot of research and development being done in that direction. That's why many huge corporations are busy sinking money into such applications, including the open source OpenCL and AMD's Stream. Microsoft is designing the upcoming DirectX 11 and nVidia has its CUDA, which are both proprietary languages. Since they're all pushing their own software development kits, rate of adoption of the various standards has been rather slow. Developers are also wary about writing their software in either languages since, as of now, CUDA won't run on AMD hardware and vice versa.
Today, I will be looking at a seemingly interesting product from three year old Elemental Technologies that makes use of nVidia's CUDA technology. The software, called Badaboom Media Converter, which sums it up pretty well, is based on its RapiHD technology. That's the same API around which Adobe's latest GPU accelerated Photoshop CS4 is based. While Badaboom cannot play any kind of media, it can convert most of it into various popular video formats. Digital media has now become a part of our lives and we need it available on all our gadgets. Whether it's Apple's "iThings," RIM's BlackBerries or simply that brand new HTPC in the living room, they all play their own format, at their own resolution. That's exactly where Badaboom makes our lives much easier; give it almost any video file and it'll get it to play on many devices.
As you can see from the slide below, Badaboom accepts a rather complete list of input files up to full high definition resolution. It can output the same high resolution in H264 format or scale it down to fit smaller screens, while the sound output is restricted to 2 channel AAC LC. The system requirements are pretty simple; all you need is a CUDA enabled GPU, which means anything from GeForce 8 and up. Since most of the work is off-loaded to the GPU, it only requires a 1.8GHz dual core processor.
Now that you have an idea of what you're looking at, let's see what exactly this application has to offer.