Review of Inlet’s Fathom VC-1 Hardware Accelerator

Inlet’s Fathom encoding solution can be best summed up as a super computer on a PCI card. Inlet has put six Texas Instruments DSP’s on to a PCI board and ported the Windows Media 9, and VC1 encoder. The result is the ability to encode 1080i content in real time or Standard definition content at about 10X. While this speed alone would warrant the $35,000 MSRP, Inlet steps that up a notch by actually improving the quality of the encodes over what Windows Media Encoder, Rhozet Carbon Coder, or Sorenson Squeeze can offer, bundling Stream Analysis tools, and offering scene by scene compression for mastering.

The Fathom 2.0 is a professional encoding and mastering solution for Windows Media and VC1. Aimed primarily at the HD space, Fathom allows you to not just encode content but truly master it videos downloaden kostenlos online. Fathom supports scene by scene encoding profiles giving you the control over your content that the Microsoft Encoder is lacking. Fathom also allows for encoding of B frames which is missing from the Microsoft implementation of the Windows Media Encoder.

Live Encoding:

In a lot of ways this is the feature that a lay person gets most excited about. Plug your HD-SDI, or SD-SDI in to the Fathom, hit the play button on the deck and voila you have beautiful VC1 encodes in real time, something not even a Quad Processor 64 bit machine can deliver. This is truly impressive to watch, and even more impressive to watch when you connect via HTTP to the output over the network allowing you to do live encodes at bit rates that were never before possible herunterladen. Streaming HD live over the network when others struggle to keep a 2 megabit stream from crashing their box is a very impressive feat.

Live encoding has been well implemented. It offers a preview of the stream when setting up the source and allows for mapping of SDI embedded audio to multiple channels for 5.1. The template editor allows you to build jobs for common tasks, encoding profiles and channel mappings. These templates allow for the use of less skilled labor to tackle a stack of tapes with amazing efficiency. It was simple to set up a template for each of the types of content I had to work with D5, Digital Beta, and VHS and switching between templates took only a few seconds herunterladen.

The Fathom offers better prediction than the stock encoder so live encodes look nearly as good as a two pass CBR encode does with the stock encoder, and in some cases looked better.

File Encoding:

Imagine it is the night before the screening your first Feature Film. You delight that you have finally finished editing at 1080p, and are ready to create an HD-DVD to play at the screening event. You push the Export to VC1 button, and the estimated time on your 2 hour film is 130 hours. Five days later you have missed your chance for stardom, and Joss Whedon once again steals your thunder herunterladen.

All this could be avoided if you had a Fathom. Fast barely describes this card. Encoding Standard definition content at 2 mbps with the complexity set as high as it goes generally takes 8:1 on a Dual Xeon 3.6, but Fathom was doing encodes that were of equal or better quality at 1:6 that is 48 times faster. HD 720p encodes at 6 megabit were taking 30:1 Fathom achieved 1:1.75 this allows for a 2 hour feature to be encoded in about 68 minutes. 1080p happens at about 1:1 from file mostly limited by how fast your hard disk is.

File encoding supports any DirectShow compatible AVI, 10-bit MOV, V210, DV-AVI, and with a small amount of playing around I was able to encode from AVI-Synth AVS (this feature is undocumented should be used at your own risk) files allowing frame serving from any DirectShow, or VFW input, such as DVD, Mpeg2 Transport Streams, even real windows vista herstel cd.

Seen by Scene Encoding:

Your close ups look wonderful but that fight scene looks like crap. Ever wish you could tweak the encode just a bit so that you could spend those extra bits on the places that need it and lower the bit rate on scenes that don’t?Sure VBR encoding gets you some of that, but it cant do as well as a human. Often in a starry night sky VBR’s logic fails to spend enough bits to prevent banding. Inlet addresses this by letting you specify how much bandwidth to use on a given scene, or raise and lower the Quantization Levels for that scene. You can also squash peaks in bit rate, and make certain that buffers are as full or empty as they need to be.

Stream Analyzer Tools:

Quality assurance is hard in encoding von youtubeen legal. You could have content that looks great and a single scene part way through that pixelates horribly. WMStats allows you to view the Frame Mean Quantization levels of your video and find places that have an unsatisfactory number of artifacts. WMStats also displays graphs of individual frame sizes, buffer fullness, rolling data rate, frame type, and motion vectors.

During both file and live encoding Fathom supplies real time data about the data rate, frame type (I,P,B ) and quantization level. This information is invaluable when trying to determine what profile is right for an encode, and can save a good deal of time as a quick glance can tell you if things are going well or not microsoft basic display adapter windows 10 10.0 treiber herunterladen.

Encoder Enhancements:

Fathom not only streamlines the encoding workflow but actually improves on the VC-1 codec while maintaining compatibility. The implementation of VC-1 in the stock Windows Media Encoder has several flaws that can make play back compatibility difficult to determine from a CPU requirement standpoint. Fathom addresses this by fixing the data rate calculation bug that exists in WME, adding B frame support, and allowing for a minimum and maximum quantization value uni hannover immatrikulationsbescheinigung herunterladen.

Specifying the minimum and maximum quantization values allow for content to have a more consistent quality level, and prevent the instantaneous bit rates to fluctuate as much. This creates content that is easier to play back especially when working with DRM’ed content.

Fathom also never drops frames, something that software encoders typically do, either because they cant keep up with encoding live, or because the scene complexity is too high. This enhancement can offer huge advantages when working with long content that you plan to do seeks with in. Dropped frames can cause audio sync issues when the player seeks with in a file play store app herunterladen funktioniert nicht. Not having dropped frames also ensures that playback is smooth, though this sometimes comes at the cost of an increase in artifacts.


Fathom is not for everybody. Just like D5 decks are not for everyone. But if you have a D5 deck and work with VC-1 you should have a Fathom Card. If you process more than 20 hours a week of SD content,you should have a Fathom Card. If you are making HD-DVDs in VC-1 you should have a Fathom card.

The only bad things I have to say about the Fathom card is that I am disappointed that it does not support capture from SDI to Lossless AVI, nor will it work as a DirectShow of Video For Windows Capture device medium-earth shadow of the war download for free. This is only disappointing because it means I have to have a AJA Xena card, in my PC as well for capturing content for archive, or if I want to do two pass encoding, or scene by scene I have to capture with the AJA card and then encode it with the Fathom. This feels like an extra step. I was also disappointed that I could not encode from live audio other than SDI Embedded Audio. While not a huge issue my work flow uses a Focus Enhancements device to convert analog signals to SDI with AES audio. So in order to use the Inlet Fathom card I have to purchase a device to remux the SDI video with the audio.

MSRP for the Fathom varies depending on the features you require, and the support contract you sign up for. The base price is about $24,000 and a full system (PC and Fathom card with all the bells and whistles) runs about $48,000 with a one year support contract.

Fathom is inexpensive compared to the number of Xeon machines it takes to get the same performance. It is also a bargain compared to Rhozet Carbon Coder and enough machines to get the performance that Fathom offers. But again the real value is not in the performance but in the enhanced features that Fathom offers.

Contact Inlet
Inlet Technologies1121 Situs Court, Suite 330Raleigh, NC 27606 919.856.1080 phone 919.256.8123 fax