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By Jordi D. Rodríguez - Contact Author

AMD VCE/VCN Hardware Accelerated Encoding Decoding

Have you ever heard of Quick Sync Video or NVENC? Maybe CUDA sounds familiar. All of the three are hardware acceleration technologies developed by Intel and Nvidia, respectively. AMD also has its own unique hardware accelerated video encoding/decoding technique. That was VCE, now evolved into VCN. In this page, you will know what VCE/VCN is, and what AMD GPUs/APUs support VCE.

Part 1: What is AMD VCE / VCN?

Generally speaking, VCE is a kind of hardware accelerated video encoding mode in AMD. Surely there is hardware accelerated video decoder as well - UVD (Unified Video Decoder). AMD integrates a Multimedia Accelerator in its GPUs and APUs, inside which ASIC[1] - VCE implements H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC video encoding only.

[1] ASIC - Application-specific integrated circuit

AMD VCE and UVD

Other Names of VCE

  1. VCE is the abbreviateion of Video Coding Engine.
  2. There are some other full names: Video Coding Engine, Video Compression Engine or Video Codec Engine.
  3. VCE is also known as AMF - Advanced Media Framework.
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Part 2: The Development of AMD VCE

There are four major updates of AMD Video Coding Engine technology. Each version was applied to different APUs and GPUs. VCE supports encoding H.264 only until Version 3.0. HEVC/H.265 was added.

 

HEVC/H.265

H.264 YUV420 (I, P)

H.264 YUV420 (I, B, P)

H.264 YUV444 (I)

H.264 SVC Temporal Encode VCE

Display Encode Mode

VCE 1.0

x

x

x

VCE 2.0

x

VCE 3.0

VCE 4.0

History of AMD VCE

Part 3: How Does AMD VCE Accelerated Video Encoding?

There are two hardware accelerated video encoding modes when using AMD VCE - fixed mode and hybrid mode. Both have their merits and cons. See the following details.

VCE Full-Fixed Mode

  1. The whole video encoding process, including intra prediction, motion estimation and entropy encode is done through VCE circuit in ASIC.
  2. Full-fixed mode is accessed through OpenMAX IL API.
  3. Merits: Fast video encoding speed.
  4. Cons: For simply editing only with low compression ratio. You may get a huge-size file.
AMD full fixed mode

VCE Hybrid Mode

  1. Actions like intra prediction, motion estimation, quantization and forward transform are done through 3D engine, while the final entropy encode uses VCE.
  2. Hybrid mode is accessed through AMD's Accelerated Parallel Programming SDK and OpenCL.
  3. Merits: High compression ratio and good for complicate video editing.
  4. Cons: Slow encoding speed.
AMD hybrid mode
AMD VCE hybrid mode

Part 4: AMD Graphics Cards That Support VCE / VCN

Check all the graphics cards made by AMD that support VCE hardware acceleration in the table below. Besides, there is information about the maximum resolution supported in VCE and video decoder.

GPU

Released Time

Video Decoding

Video Encoding

Max. Resolution

Radeon HD 7000 Series

2012

UVD 4

VCE 1.0

2K

AMD Radeon Rx 200 series

2013

UVD 4.2

VCE 2.0

2K

AMD Radeon Rx 300 series

2015

UVD 5.0 or 6.0

VCE 3.0 or 3.1

4K

AMD Radeon 400 series

2016

UVD 6.3

VCE 3.4

4K

AMD RX Vega series

2017

UVD 7

VCE 4.0

4K

AMD Radeon RX 5000 series

2019

VCN

VCN

4K

Part 5: Codecs That Can Use AMD VCN 1.0 Hardware Acceleration

As we mentioned before, VCE has been replaced by VNC as of Raven Ridge in 2017. What is the difference? VCE is hardware acceleration utilized in video encoding only, while VNC is for both hardware accelerated encoding and decoding. Let's see what codecs can be decoded and encoded using VNC.

Codec

Decoding

Encoding

H.262 (MPEG-2)

Yes

No

MPEG-4

Yes

No

VC-1/WMV9

Yes

No

H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC)

Yes

Yes

H.265 (HEVC)

Yes

Yes

VP9

Yes

No

AV1

No

No

Part 6: AMD APUs That Support VCE / VCN

VCE and VCN hardware acceleration are not only used in AMD graphics cards, but also APUs[2]. Not sure whether your AMD computers with APU can decode and encode video in VCE / VCN? Check the following lists.

[2] APU - Accelerated Processing Unit

APU

CPU

GPU

Video Encoding

Video Decoding

Trinity

Piledriver

TeraScale 2 (VLIW5)

VCE 1.0

UVD 3.0

Richland

Piledriver

TeraScale 3 (VLIW4)

VCE 1.0

UVD 3.0

Kaveri

Steamroller

GCN 2nd gen

VCE 2.0

UVD 4.2

Carrizo

Excavator

GCN 3rd gen

VCE 3.1

UVD 6.0

Bristol Ridge

Excavator

GCN 3rd gen

VCE 3.1

UVD 6.0

Raven Ridge

Zen

GCN 5th gen

VCN 1.0

VCN 1.0

Trinity

Zen+

GCN 5th gen

VCN 1.0

VCN 1.0

VideoProc - Makes All VCE, NVENC, QSV Acceleration Accessible!

VCE seems to be not as well known as Nvidia NVENC and Intel QSV. Why is that? The biggest reason might be that few programs support AMD VCE while both Nvidia CUDA/NVENC and Intel QSV are widely compatible.

VideoProc is a video editing processing tool, which gives support on full using of AMD VCE/VNC, Nvidia CUDA/NVENC and Intel QSV. Such hardware acceleration is particularly important when decoding, editing and encoding UHD files, like 4K video. Free download VideoProc to use AMD VCE now!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jordi D. Rodríguez

Jordi was an amateur tech enthusiast, but now an editor who has published hundreds of stories covering video editing, hardware acceleration, software review and how-tos. He is more like a "tech support" with adventurous soul, eagerly grabbing cutting-edge video technologies off in a professional yet easy-to-understand way. Enjoys gliding, diving, etc.

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