Feb 1, 2012

Adobe CS5.5 Mercury Playback Engine [NVIDIA CUDA Acceleration]

Adobe and Nvidia worked together to include Nvidia CUDA support in CS5 and CS5.5, which gave birth to the Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration. Essentially MPE GPU Acceleration drastically cuts down video encode times and enables real timeline editing with multiple layers of video and effects! No more choppy video playback, no more render to preview, and no more transcoding because it can be done in real time. What this means for us normal folk is that the price of a professional video editing machine is now attainable, and all for the price of a video card upgrade.* 

For some real world usage, at the beginning of 2010, I took a backpacking trip through Vietnam, and I wanted to video blog the entire trip. Armed with an Asus G60VX w/Nvidia GTX260M laptop and a Canon 5D Mark II, I was able to capture 1080p footage and import the raw files straight into Premiere to edit. Recording was done during the day, and at night the footage was edited, encoded, and uploaded. The encoding times were unbelievably fast. Yes, and all on a portable laptop! If you were to ask me to do this 2 years ago, I'd tell you I'd need thousands of dollars worth of equipment and a team to lug it around.
Fast forward to today, I upgraded my old trustworthy Dell XPS 420 rig with a Gigabyte Nvidia GTX 560 1GB DDR5/336 CUDA cores/256-bit and a 600 watt OCZ ModXStream Pro power supply. I took a video project that I encoded before, which encoded via CPU around 20 minutes, and with GPU acceleration encoded the project in under 5 minutes. The yellow render bar was racing to the right to completion--this still amazes me today.

Dell XPS 420                                                      
Intel Q6600 2.4GHz CPU
Western Digital Velociraptor 10K 300GB drive
Transcend 32GB SSD
Tandberg TS400 LTO2Tape Drive

*Upgrade must be to a base system that's decent i.e. at least Quad Core CPU, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM drive. You may need to upgrade your power supply to power the new graphic card. Check out Studio 1 Productions for all the info on card comparisons, instructions to enabling GPU accleration, and more.

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