updated 02:35 pm EDT, Tue October 12, 2010
Microsoft wants to patent GPU video encoding
A US patent filing published today has raised concerns as it could give Microsoft control of hardware-accelerated video encoding. A continuance of an application for "accelerated video encoding using a graphics processing unit" would cover the common technique of calculating motion for video processing with the video chipset in a computer rather than the regular, usually slower main CPU. Its techniques are broad and cover tricks like turning each frame into macroblocks to process them in parallel.
A successful patent could put the feature sets of modern graphics hardware at risk without a clarification or a settlement. The basic concepts have already been used in accelerating video processing for the past few years, starting with independent apps such as Elements' Badaboom but also including Adobe's Premiere video editing suite. Both AMD and NVIDIA have made a point of using general purpose computing like CUDA, DirectCompute and OpenCL to speed up video encoding on their own graphics cores.
Microsoft hasn't been granted the patent despite it having been first filed in September 2004, but it may face challenges to the claims from companies that began using GPU video encoding independently after the patent application was filed but before it was published.