What Is Software Encoding & Hardware Encoding ? Difference Between Them ? Which One Is Best For You & Why ?


introduction of software hardware encoding

There are Basically two types of Encoders named as Software Encoder and Hardware Encoder which results Software Encoding and Hardware Encoding respectively.

These two types of encoders are having different functionality and use cases. Which make it little bit confusing to select best one for you.

So today in this article we will clear all of these confusions from start to end. Like what is Encoding ? and Difference Between Hardware Encoding and Software Encoding ?

Which one will be best solution for your Streaming Platform ?

What Is Encoding ?

what is encoding

Encoding is the process of compressing the media in desired format. Where compression algorithms are used to do so. The device which process this function named as Encoder.

A Encoder basically have analog audio and video inputs then encode them in desired format and provides the Encoded IP Output.

Encoders are used to provide RTMP streaming. Which goes into your Streaming Media Server as RTMP input. Then this streaming media server transcode it

If you wants to know what is RTMP Streaming Protocol then click here

As we have discussed above there are two types of encoders. Software Encoders and Hardware Encoders.

To understand it we are discussing both of them individually.

What Is Software Encoding ?

how does software encoding work

A Software Encoding is a type of Encoding performed by CPU with the help of a Encoding Software.

This powerful Encoding Software uses the CPU to process these Compression Algorithms. Which results compressed or encoded output in desired format.

Thus there are various encoding softwares available in the market. Which we need to purchase or freely available. Then we need to install them in our computer or laptop or server.

These encoding software will perform according your hardware configuration of your server. Where you need to monitor your CPU uses. If this CPU uses exceed little bit then you will get the glitches in the streaming. This is the main disadvantage of software encoding.

If you are doing software encoding in your computer then you need to add a Capture Card first for video input to your laptop. There are very less number of laptops available in which Capture Card is in built.

What Are Properties Of Software Encoding ?

(1) Very Good Video Qualtiy

(2) Medium Performance In terms of Latency

(3) High Maintenance

(4) CPU Based Encoding (GPU is not mandatory)

(5) Easy to Upgrade results high scalability

(6) More Number Of Functions Are Available

(7) High Power Consumption

What Are Names Of Software Encoders ?

(1) OBS Studio

(2) Adobe Flash Media LIVE Encoder Software

(3) Telestream Wirecast

Where OBS Studio and Adobe Flash Media LIVE Encoder Software is free of cost available to use. While Telestream Wirecast is a premium software encoder. Which have various functions while LIVE Streaming.

How Can I Stream Using OBS Studio Free Tool ?

What Is Hardware Encoding ?

how does hardware encoding work

A Hardware Encoding is a type of encoding where dedicated hardware is needed for encoding. In which encoding is done by using the GPU of that hardware.

These complex compression algorithms are processed by the dedicated GPU for that.

This dedicated hardware for hardware encoding gives the low latency while streaming. It provides the medium quality of video than software encoding.

These hardware encoders does not require high maintenance. It consume low amount of power for encoding than software encoders.

The main disadvantage of hardware encoder is that we can not easily upgrade it. It is having less number of functions than software encoders. Like switching of camera videos, Titles in video and picture in picture function etc.

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What Are Properties Of Hardware Encoding ?

(1) Medium Video Quality in comparative software encoder.

(2) Very Good Performance in terms of Latency

(3) Low Maintenance due to dedicated hardware

(4) GPU Based Encoding

(5) Low Scalability

(6) Less Number Of Functions Are Available

(7) Low Power Consumption

What Are Names Of Hardware Encoders ?

(1) BoxCaster

(2) Teradek ViDiU

(3) Digicast DMB 8800A

Which Encoding Is Best For You ?

best software hardware encoding

It totally depend upon your use case or requirement. If you are going for OTT solution then Software Encoding is good option for you. It will provide you good video quality with more number of functions.

Software Encoding is low cost solution. It is also good for when you frequently stream. But here you need to focus on your CPU uses. Which should not exceed the processing power.

If you are looking for a solution in which you need one time installation means low maintenance. Where you need medium quality but better performance then you should go for Hardware Encoders.

Hardware Encoders are costly solution. There are less number of chances to upgrade it for new codecs. So scalability is the issue with hardware encoders.

If you are streaming on Twitch or Streaming on Youtube just for normal use then Software Encoding using OBS Studio is good solution for you. It is low cost solution because Open Broadcaster Software For Streaming is free to use.

This free tool OBS Studio is used for commercial and non-commercial purpose too.

X264 is known as a CPU Encoding or Software Based Encoding. While
For GPU Encoding you can use Intel (QSV) , NVIDIA (NVEnc) and AMD (VCE). If we define it in quality wise order then it can be expressed as,


How To Do Streaming Using FFMPEG Tool ?


conclusion of encoding

Never get confused in between software encoding and hardware encoding. Keep in mind one thing that in software encoding CPU processing power is used for compression algorithms.

While for hardware encoding GPU power is used for compression algorithms. Hardware Encoders comes with a small box. Which can encode multiple number of channels and provides IP Output.

On the other hand in software encoders you need to purchase it online. While some of them are open source free to use. It provides pristine video quality with multiple functions in encoding.

If you still have any questions regarding hardware encoding and software encoding then let us know in the comment box or ask in Headend INFO Whatsapp Group.

Suggested Articles

What Are HD Encoders ? How It Works ?

How To Do Video Streaming Using OBS Studio ?

How Can You Do Streaming Using VLC Media Player ?

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