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PS3 CodecSys H.264 Encoder Review |

Hey Everyone,

I have always been a fan of and wanted to do a guest review on some folks who happen to be in my backyard:Fixstars.

Having a chance to beta test the CodecSys encoder, I wanted to share my thoughts and be the town herald on this so to speak. I haven’t seen much press on it (outside Japan) but it’s definitely newsworthy. Now on to the review.

Recently I have had the opportunity to test out the CodecSys CE-10  H.264 encoding software for the PS3 created by Fixstars, and the results are nothing short of astounding. By utilizing the power of the cell processor in the PS3, the video encoding world is changing.

The installation and set-up was a breeze. Essentially you’re installing a Linux OS on your PS3 (as YDL was sold to Fixstars). After installing the “other os” on the PS3 and setting it as default, you reboot the PS3. Once you reboot the PS3. You’re greeted with YDL/Fixstars screen on your PS3 with a message that states the “CodecSys CE-10 accelerator has started”

After this is completed you install the CodecSys software on the PC. It functions in a client/server type relationship. You load up the file on the PC, it communicates with the PS3, sends the data over, and then sends it back over to the PC. All my tests were performed on Core2 Duo Processor with a Gigabit LAN. So after installing and initializing the program the program launches and attempts to find the PS3:

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After the PS3 is contacted, you’re greeted with an encoding screen where you can import your media into to the encoder.

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For the purposes of this test, I wanted to take one of my favorite films and re-encode the video.  Soldier:

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I grabbed a copy of Soldier, decrypted the video and multiplexed it into one VOB file with video only and fired it up into the encoder. I selected the appropriate framerate, and the container. A whole host of options are available on the settings side of the window. Since the program encodes to H.264, I selected the container of .264.I kept the same resolution as my DVD, Aspect Ratio, and adjusted the video bitrate.

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What’s amazing is that Soldier has a runtime of 99 minutes. The total encode time was actually faster than real-time for a total time of 23 minutes:

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To really test the encoder further, I wanted to encode some HD material. I recorded Kill Bill Part Vol. 1  from a TNT Broadcast, edited out the commercials, and demuxed the video to import into the encoder. The average bitrate of the file was 38 mbps and the resolution was 1920 x 1080. I captured the file via firewire and save it as .TS  I left all the options the same in the encoder.

Again, amazing results. Kill Bill Vol. 1 is 111 minutes. Total encoding time was 137 minutes. Impressive for encoding  from full resolution  MPEG-2 file to full resolution H.264.

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Quality of the encoded files were impressive, and exceeded previous encodes that would normally have taken me hours. Fixstars has truly changed the world of HD encoding, and at a price point that eclipses anything else available. Now if only I could keep it forever 🙂

  • now this is interesting. is there any software compatible with mac?

  • Not currently, but the Fixstars group is extremely open to change and feedback. I would conjecture it won’t be long before there is a mac client…

  • I would like to see a mac version as well. The Encoder itself looks great.

    Is there a PSP or iPod setting or an option to shink it down that small? What file types can it support?

  • We think a like Tosh 🙂 At this point there isn’t since it’s geared more towards higher end h.264 encoding. That’s a request I have already submitted for sure.

    Resolution wise the lowest it will encode to is 720x480p. On the encoder settings side, the bitrate, range control, and aspect ratio is wide open.

    Right now it supports, MPEG2, AVI, and YUV2…

  • Hey Guys,

    I just put a link to digg on this. Maybe it will drive some traffic this way 🙂

  • Darrin

    great read

  • Ceidz

    Nice review ! Thanks !

  • Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  • Marcel Offermans

    How about encoding a movie using multiple PS3’s? Is that something that is or will be supported too? I mean in the end, the PS3 can be seen as “cheap hardware” so getting a few of them to do your encoding for high end solutions definitely is a possibility. So basically the question is, can the software support “chopping up” a movie in small segments and distributing those over a whole farm of PS3’s, using the ones that are currently available at any time so you can still just reboot one of them to actually start gaming.

    Also, what about using one PS3 as a permanent, on the fly media transcoder for a second PS3? I’d like that too. If they can tune the options a bit more so all formats can be transcoded faster than real-time that would really be a nice option too. No need to manually transcode anymore upfront!

  • Andy

    I use Final Cut Studio a lot at home, it would be great if I could plug a few PS3s (I only have 1 at the moment) onto my network and use them as Compressor nodes when doing a video encode.

  • What is the cost of the software?

  • Gibb

    distributed Cell computing at home! awesome! going to visit their site..

  • Marcel,

    Cloud encoding is definitely something I think might be in the cards, I will try and find out for you. It reminds me of my old days using vidomi to crunch video at work 🙂 Given the recent price drop it could be a viable . On the fly transcoding would be nice given the lack of specific codec support on the PS3. I am still surprised the PS3 isn’t Divx 7 certified yet 🙁


    Software is$199 for a year subscription which includes support and all updates. Not a bad deal if you ask me…


    Indeed. This is what I have been waiting for 🙂