All video transcoders are created equal, but some are created more equal than others. Fundamentally all such programs are, as the name would suggest, transcoding from one format to another, possibly changing resolution and, as a result of those changes, file size at the same time. However, in the process of doing so, video quality (resolution loss accepted) can be compromised and, more importantly perhaps, different transcoders can take vastly differing time scales to work their magic.
A multi-threaded transcoders, for example, will self-evidently run much faster in a like-for-like conversion on a dual- or quad-core CPU. Nehalem, with its four cores and ability to process eight threads is a bit of a beast when it comes to transcoding video. But there is one program on the market that claims to better any CPU-based solution, no matter how efficiently coded and threaded it is.
Badaboom, as this program is called, was created by a company called Elemental Technologies and takes parallelism of the transcoding process to its logical next step. Running on CUDA, Badaboom takes advantage of the huge number of processing cores available on nVidia's graphics cards to speed up the transcoding process - often to quite impressive degrees.
The claim, then, is that Badaboom can offer the same high quality video conversions that CPU-based transcoders offer, but at much faster speeds. It's unrealistic to compare a CPU core to a GPU stream processor, performance wise, but almost certainly a graphics card with up to 240 parallel processing units versus at most eight on a realistic consumer PC should provide a significant performance advantage. That's the theory, anyway.
Elemental Technologies' target market with Badaboom is transcoding of video files on a PC into a format better suited for portable devices. As betrayed by the user interface, the primary devices Badaboom is aimed at are Apple's iPod range (and the iPhone). Thus the main transcoders Badaboom is rivaling, are the ones built in to iTunes.
Primarily, then, Badaboom needs to be faster than iTunes at transcoding files for playback on an iPod or, as recently added to the choices, Xbox 360, from a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution down. And, it needs to do so with enough of a performance advantage to make the £19-odd asking price seem justifiable.