A specialized chip like VCU is so much faster than a software-based solution because it is designed specifically for the task of video encoding and decoding. Traditional CPUs are designed to handle a wide range of tasks, whereas specialized chips like VCUs are tailored for specific tasks, making them more efficient at performing those tasks.

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Traditional CPUs like Intel/ARM processors are good for general purpose compute like rendering UI, network data processing etc. Video transcode involves taking 20 frames per sec 4k video, decode and compress them using H264 encoder to different resolutions. General purpose cpu cores nor GPUs are not good for it. You have DSP (Digital Signal Processors) cores specifically built for it. You pipe data to the DSP core and take its output and pipe it to CDN data store.

These days Intel/ARM processors package separate DSP cores, GPU cores on the same chip to help with the above activities but at a lower scale.

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