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FAQ: Mercury Playback Engine, CUDA, OpenCL, Metal, and what it all means

Jan 04, 2011 Jan 04, 2011

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Mercury Playback Engine ExplainedMercury Playback Engine ExplainedMercury Playback Engine is the given name for a group of improvments that is been built into Premiere Pro. See Adobe documentation on the topic here: Mercury Playback Engine (GPU Accelerated) renderer.

 

Those improvements includes: 

- 64-bit application

- multithreaded application

- processing of some things using CUDA
- processing of some things using OpenCL

- processing of some things using Metal

 

  • All versions of Premiere Pro (since CS5) have the first two of these: 64 bit and multi-threaded applicaton.
  • Since then, GPU Acceleration was added, enhancing Mercury Playback Engine performance.
    • CUDA support on Nvidia GPUs came first. Then, OpenCL and Metal processing for the Mercury Playback Engine came along. 
    • For current versions of Premiere Pro, you need at least 2 GB VRAM for HD. 4GB for 4K for the Mercury Playback Engine to function as specified.
    •  See System Requirments.

 

The official and up-to-date list of the cards that provide CUDA, OpenCL, and Metal processing features is here.

 

Here's a list of things that Premiere Pro can process with CUDA, OpenCL, and Metal:

- some effects

- scaling - (alternate link)

- deinterlacing

- blending modes

- color space conversions

 

  • One set of things that Premiere Pro's Mercury Playback Engine doesn't process: encoding and decoding. 

 

That said, two new options for GPU accelerated encoding have been added recently, both of which use different tech than the Mercury Playback Engine

  • GPU acceleration is available for decoding and encoding of H.264 and HEVC formats with certain Intel GPUs using Intel Quick Sync. Info here
  • GPU acceleration is also available for encoding of H.264 and HEVC formats regardless of CPU type. Info here.
  • The three technologies do work in concert, with default presets for hardware acceleration set accordingly.

 

  • Note that whether a frame can be processed by CUDA, OpenCL, or Metal depends on the size of the frame and the amount of VRAM on the graphics card. This article gives details about that.  Error Compiling Movie errors are often at the root this issue.

 

  • Processing with CUDA, OpenCL, or Metal doesn't just mean that things are faster. In some cases, it can actually mean that results are better, as with scaling. See this article for details.

 

  • If you don't have a supported GPU, you can still use Premiere Pro; you just won't get the advantages of processing with CUDA, OpenCL, or Metal.
    • For that, use Mercury Playback Engine Software Only mode. This mode is also useful as a troubleshooting tool to check any anomalies with effects or visuals. The drawback is that it is a lot slower than working with a supported GPU. 

An article on the Premiere Pro team blog based on the information and questions in this forum thread has been posted, please check that out.


Notes

  • The author of this post is no longer working at Adobe, so it needs to be updated by my team. The various Premiere Pro Team Blog links to this article still function as of June 2020, however, their removal is likely imminent. This info needs to be captured before its removal, as it contains critical information for editors. We ask for your patience as this gets fixed.
  • This article covers information about the Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration. Please do not confuse this information with GPU accelerated exporting technology. More info on GPU accelerated exporting here.
  •  As of June 2020, on macOS, CUDA processing for the Mercury Playback Engine been deprecated for Premiere Pro. Use Metal now.

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replies 163 Replies 163
Advisor ,
Mar 15, 2012 Mar 15, 2012

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The last time I recall getting consistently fast exports was with 720 .mpg footage in a 486 ProRes Sequence.  I'd think that would be slower, due to the transcoding and scaling on export, but my exports were super fast.

The promo I'm on now is ProRes footage, ProRes Seq settings, and ProRes export, often choosing "Use Sequence Settings."  One would think that this would give the fastest performance.  And this is the one where the exports are either 7 or 25 minutes.  That's what I mean when I say I don't detect a pattern yet.

I have an 8-core MacPro3,1 with 32G RAM.  All drivers are current.  I truly don't think it's due to lack of power.  Ae renders at consistently high speeds.  I generally take my projects to Ae to finish anyway, but I don't like to go there until the client has signed off on content.  Much harder to make drastic changes.

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Advocate ,
Mar 15, 2012 Mar 15, 2012

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Well, we have very similar systems.

Mac Pro 3,1

2 x 3.2 ghz Quad Core Intel Xeon

10.6.8

Nvidia Quadro 4000

24 gigs ram

Kona 3

Maxx Digital / Areca 8tb. raid

It would be interested with a very simple but representation sequence to try it on my system as a point of comparison.

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Advisor ,
Mar 16, 2012 Mar 16, 2012

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Yes, I noted the similarities to our systems a while back.  I have the LHi and more RAM.  So, when you report things are working for you, I can generally presume it's not my hardware configuration.

Thanks for your very kind offer to test, but I think I've achieved some success now. 

Since about the only thing I hadn't tried was uninstalling and reinstalling the application, I just tried it, updated, reinstalled the Adobe AJA software, did a Permissions Repair, launched my promo project, exported it, and got a three minute export.  This is more like it!

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New Here ,
May 05, 2012 May 05, 2012

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I'm running the 30 trial of PP5.5 in preference to FCPX as it handles my DSLR footage natively with no transcoding and will probably but in 10 days. One problem: my Macbook Pro uses the Nvidia GT330M which is widely acknowledged to be CUDA compliant (although not officially approved). Many people have used it to achieve Mercury hardware acceleration after installing the latest CUDA update and then editing the supported cards txt file to include the GT330M.

However, the Mac installation of 5.5 doesn't seem to have created the relevant txt file - I have searched using the terminal and manually but to no avail. Is this something which has been abandoned with 5.5 and, if so, is there a workaround. Like everyone else, I really could use the extra rendering muscle!!!

Apologies if this wasn't the best thread to post my query - I'm surprised there aren't more MBP/Premiere users with the same problem.

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Adobe Employee ,
May 06, 2012 May 06, 2012

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I had the same laptop - or at least the one that had a 330M chip in it.  The problem with this laptop is the fact that it does not have enough memory to make a difference in GPU processing.  We're really looking for at least 768MB of GPu memory in order to make a difference.  Internally, we tried to make this work, but really all we could get out of it is one dissolve or light FX working.  Not really the kind of experience that people are really expecting from the Mercury playback engine these days so we excluded this card. 

Current generation Macbook Pro's are supported via the AMD/ATI chipset and OpenCL. 

Dennis

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New Here ,
Jan 06, 2014 Jan 06, 2014

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Hi Todd,

until the my  update to Premiere CC, I had not had any problem with Mercury Playback and open cl working with hardware acceleration.  For some reason I cannot use hardware acceleration any longer, the video freezes, and it will not export through AME. 

I am using a Win 7 machine with i7 extreme, 16 GB ram, multiple discs with my work discs being SSDs, and nVidia GTX 570 graphics card.

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LEGEND ,
Jan 06, 2014 Jan 06, 2014

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I'm not aware of OpenCL ever having worked with nVidia on Windows, only on Macs.  nVidia on Windows offers only CUDA.

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New Here ,
Jan 06, 2014 Jan 06, 2014

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Sorry Jim Simon, I meant to say GPU acceleration.  to many hours looking at the screen.

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LEGEND ,
Jan 07, 2014 Jan 07, 2014

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OK.  Start a new thread and answer all these questions.

FAQ: What information should I provide when asking a question on this forum?

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Explorer ,
Jun 11, 2015 Jun 11, 2015

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How do you select "Mercury Playback Engine GPU" instead of software? I looked in my Preferences and I don't see it there.

Thank you,

Patrice Shannon

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New Here ,
Nov 26, 2015 Nov 26, 2015

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Todd,

I use the Media Encoder a lot for renders.

Having a Mac Pro with dual ATi graphic cards (total 6Gb of video memory) and the processor being 3 GHz 8-Core Intel Xeon E5, what would be the best option for me?

To render with GPU or Software(CPU)?

Thanks a lot.

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New Here ,
Dec 06, 2020 Dec 06, 2020

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Hello, I have had the graphics render issue where I get green banded lines when rendering or exporting using Metal or OpenCL. It also crashes the computer and causes obviously failed imports.  I need to know if this is a graphics card issue or an Adobe issue, and what the remedy is....

The issue started happening on Catalina OS, so I updated to Big Sur, and the issue still is happening. It was happeing on Premiere(14.5) and Encoder (14.5), so when an update came out I updated all to 14.6. The green tearing and crashing still occurs on Metal/OpenCL but NOT the Software Only Renderer. I also tried the export via Metal/OpenCL using Premiere 13.15 and the issue still happens with my new macbook pro. So narrowing down, the issue is the singled to be around the New Macbook Pro and something to do with the graphics card renderer Metal and OpenCL

The Software Only renderer is NOT ideal, due to speed and obviously, I have a brand new laptop with maxed RAM for a reason. The green tearing lines and crashing occurs only on my brand new macbook pro. I have tried exporting on an older Macbook Pro (2015, 16GB RAM / Intel Irsis Pro 1536MB gfx card) and older iMac (2014, 8GB RAM / AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2GB gfx Card) both with significantly less memory and with AMD type graphics cards, and they export and render albeit slower, but here are no green lines or crash issues - Exports and Renders are successful NO ISSUES.

 

My current Macbook is (2019, 64 GB RAM / AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8 GB

Intel UHD Graphics 630 1536 MB). What is the solution for the green tear lines and crashing that occurs when rendering/exporting via Metal/OpenCL on either Premiere or Encoder?? PLEASE HELP. Should I return the Macbook Pro for a faulty gfx card? Will Adobe fix a compatibility issue or whatever the issue is?

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New Here ,
Feb 22, 2021 Feb 22, 2021

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I have a GTX 1660 and on Media
Encoder and Premiere I already configured to run with the GPU but when rendering the CPU it reaches 100% work, how do I render with the GPU?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 22, 2021 Feb 22, 2021

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LATEST

If you have a proper driver running, a recent Studio driver (avoid the game-ready drivers!) ... and if you have the Project dialog panel's "Mercury Acceleration" dialog set to CUDA, then PrPro will use the GPU for what it uses a GPU for.

 

Which is not a simple and constant companion to the CPU ... they are very different bits of gear.

 

Depending on the individual CPU you have, going to the Preferences and setting "hardware acceleration" to on may help for H.264 exports.

 

Neil

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