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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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FAQ , Hardware or GPU

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replies 163 Replies 163
Guide ,
Jan 04, 2011 Jan 04, 2011

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ahh...OK, thank you Todd and Harm...both...i understand this much better now

one more question, with regard to Open GL

IIRC, glide and then open glide ( open gl ) was for gaming at first to draw ( using the gpu and vram ( mem on card )) complex 3d scenes etc FAST, so that the cpu wasnt being used for those things that the GPU could do ( light source vectors and refraction and reflection and any number of skin related ( attributes of 3d objects ) ) ??? is that about right ?

so with pp cs5 that open gl does not apply whatsoever, but in AE ( which I dont have ...I do have maya and know a little bit about 3d stuff ) ...in AE the open gl IS USED in some circumstances....is this right....pp cs5 does NOT use open GL, AE does sometimes ?

sooo, in terms of the PP CS5 mercury playback and open GL cards abilities, you would notice a big difference with PP CS5 but not such a big difference with AE CS5  ??

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Participant ,
Jan 04, 2011 Jan 04, 2011

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Is it possible to rebase Mercury Playback Engine on OpenCL, which I imagine might make it easier to support ATI cards? I have one computer with an Nvidia card and another with an ATI card. Is OpenCL appropriate and sufficiently mature?

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Jan 04, 2011 Jan 04, 2011

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> Is it possible to rebase Mercury Playback Engine on OpenCL, which I imagine might make it easier to support ATI cards? I have one computer with an Nvidia card and another with an ATI card. Is OpenCL appropriate and sufficiently mature?

As we were beginning the work for Premiere Pro CS5, OpenCL wasn't far enough along.

Regarding plans for future versions: Sorry, but we can't comment on what may or may not be done in future versions. That said, we rely heavily on feature requests to determine how many people want a specific feature. If you'd like to see us use OpenCL for processing, please submit a feature request.

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New Here ,
May 24, 2012 May 24, 2012

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Hello, I need to export my video to tape but mercury playback is greyed out. I have an ATI Mobility Radeion HD 5650. From reading the forum, it appears my card does not have the CUDA processing features needed to enable Mercury. Is this correct? And if so, is there a work around that would enable me to export my video to tape?? Please help, I'm a film student and my final project is past due and I've done all this work but unable to turn in assignment as required (mini-DV).  Thanks in advance

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Adobe Employee ,
May 24, 2012 May 24, 2012

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You do not need GPU acceleration to export to tape.

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New Here ,
May 24, 2012 May 24, 2012

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Thank you for the quick response. Here is the problem I'm running into. Background: I am able to capture from my device without issue but when I try to export it fails. Under Sequence Settings > Playback Settings > Export - I only have 2 options: None, DV:25 720 x 576i or Monitor 2 60 1920 x 1080p. I've chosen D; 25 720 x 576i. The 'disable video output when in the background' by default was checked. Under File > Export > Tape a dialog box pops up 'Export to HDV' the status is ready and the Current Timecode: 00;00;00;00. It has a Render and Record button as well as a Done button. I push Render and Record and it begins "Transcoding to HDV' which takes some times but appears to complete but receive a failed or nothing captured message. Based on tutorials I've seen on the web, after I select Export > Tape the Device Control option should pop up which would allow me to select the beginning and end of my timecode but this feature is not appearing. Any advice much appreciated. Thank you.

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New Here ,
May 24, 2012 May 24, 2012

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BTW - My sequence is fully rendered (all green line on top) and I'm running Windows 7, 64-bit, 8GB RAM, TB HD, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650. I use my old camera Canon Vixia HV30 which as I mentioned the capture function works flawlessly. I haven't tried using my Canon XH A1 because I don't have a the 6p-4pin cable needed to transfer.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 09, 2011 Jan 09, 2011

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So if Mercury Engine is "Grayed Out" in project

settings, that means your graphics card is not suitable?

My AVCHD footage is pixelating on the timeline, could that be the problem?

thanks

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 09, 2011 Jan 09, 2011

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That Is Correct but you can make it suitable search for the "Premiere Pro hack" I have done it and now my GeForce GTX 460 works fine, I can't give you a direct link because forum rules don't allow it, however I think your graphics card has to have 1Gb of memory or perhaps 750 Mb. What are the specs of your card ?

Regards

Kevin

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 09, 2011 Jan 09, 2011

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Sorry

Windows 7 64 bit

4 GB Ram

Graphics - NVidea Geforce 7300 LE 128mb DDR3

Processor - Twin Intel core 2 cpu 6300 1.86 ghz

Hard Disks - 3 on Raid 0

Message was edited by: Michael J Ward

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 09, 2011 Jan 09, 2011

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Hello again, sorry but I would say your card is not suitable for hacking my GTX 460 was very reasonable and the hack works, I bought a Palit sonic platinum which is manufacturer overclocked by 20%. I am afraid that although PPCS5 has fantastic capabilities it is resource hungry and I personally am always planning my next upgrade (currently 18gb ram to 24gb i7 950 to i7 980X Samsung spinpoint to ssd's so on and so fourth it never stops) Good luck there are always lots of top experts to help on this forum to help.

Regards

Kevin

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 09, 2011 Jan 09, 2011

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Thanks Kevin

Looks like I need to buy one of the recommended graphics cards.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 10, 2011 Jan 10, 2011

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Just be careful most top cards need extra power so you have to be sure your power supply has the correct plugs they're square with six connections, my GTX 460 has two extra sockets for power, if you're planning an upgrade a good GTX card and an 850 watt power supply (buy a good one) would not be wasted. I have just done a search and you can get conversion cables from the 4 pin flat molex to the square graphics card plug but you must make sure your power supply is up to it.

Regards

Kevin

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Explorer ,
Feb 10, 2011 Feb 10, 2011

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Why is a powerhouse like Adobe behind when it comes to encoding? No CUDA/Stream/Quick Sync enhanced encoding in AME...

Intel released a plugin for AME that does basic H.264 profiles http://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/adobe-premiere-propremiere-el  ements-encoder-plug-in-using...

Intel lists the apps that support quick synch http://www.intel.com/technology/quicksynch/index.htm

* Arcsoft MediaConverter*
* Arcsoft MediaImpression*
* Corel Digital Studio*
* CyberLink MediaEspresso*
* CyberLink PowerDirector*
* MainConcept*
* Movavi Video Converter*
* Roxio Creator*

When will AME take advantage of CUDA/Stream/Quick Sync for encoding and why are you so behind the times??

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Engaged ,
Feb 10, 2011 Feb 10, 2011

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Todd, others, one of the things I'm still a bit unsure about is the difference of using GPU and non-GPU Mercury when it comes to real-time playback.

When I added my cards, I guess I assumed my realtime playback would either stay the same, or in some cases improve, due to processing being conducted by the GPU.

What I have found in some of my HDV projects, especially where I have an embedded AE comp, is that I can't get anything approaching realtime playback, UNLESS I turn off GPU assistance and go back to software only.

So I'm wondering, if I can't get realtime using the GPU, do I need a better card, a better machine, or both? Are there cases where using the GPU is not advised/appropriate?

Could you clarify for me what GPU is doing or not doing for realtime playback?

W64, E8400, 8GB, GTX470

cheers

Matthew P

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Adobe Employee ,
Feb 12, 2011 Feb 12, 2011

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GPU acceleration does not aid in decoding footage, so if you cannot play an image sequence in realtime on it's own, a faster GPU is unlikely to help you.

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New Here ,
Feb 12, 2011 Feb 12, 2011

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Hi

I have a question regarding the capacity of CUDA and Mercuryengine to playback HD bitmap files in real time in PremierePro CS5 (5.0.3).

I do film animation and work with uncompressed image sequences shot on DSLR cameras reduced to the 16:9 HD 1080 resolution. I don't have any problems playing XDCAM HD 422, the processor being able to easily deal with them. But when it is time to play bitmap image (TGA) sequences, the playback is choppy, even if the PremPro session corresponds to the input. My solution for now is to render the files before playback.

Here are the specs of my computer:

  • Windows 7 64 Pro

    • Installed (With software) on a Seagate     Barracuda 7200 500 Gig

  • 2 Intel Xeon E5520 2.26 MHz, Multithreaded

  • 2 x 500 Gig Seagate Barracuda 7200
    • Configured in      RAID 0 for animation and editing projects (Software RAID)

  • 12 gig of RAM (2 x 6, DDR3 1333     Mhz Kingston)

  • PNY QuadroFX 1800 with the latest     driver

  • Supermicro X8DAi E-ATX

  • Antec 850W power supply

I have researched the Bitmap playback subject, but there is very little information found on the topic. I am wondering if a switch to a GeForce GTX 470 graphic card would do anything since bitmap playback is not CPU intensive, unlike the XDCAM HD 422 file type? As much as possible, I am trying to avoid a proxy work flow. For now, it seems that the problem might be related to memory bandwidth and stream performance (Geekbench test).

Thanks for your help.

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Adobe Employee ,
Feb 12, 2011 Feb 12, 2011

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GPU acceleration does no decoding, so if your TGA sequence will not playback on its own I would not expect a new GPU to help.

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New Here ,
Feb 12, 2011 Feb 12, 2011

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Thanks for your response Steve. It is appreciated.

Here is what I have found to improve playback: My TGAs are of 24 bit, 6 Mb each. Despised the absence of an alpha channel within the file, I decided to go to "interpret Footage" and check "Ignore Alpha Channel".  I can now play those images in real time, in several layers, including an XDCAM HD 422 file, with playback resolution to 1/2.

Would it be because PremPro was looking for the alpha channel anyway?

Jean

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Engaged ,
Feb 14, 2011 Feb 14, 2011

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I sure hope Adobe fixes the fire wire out preview for external monitor support using MPE!!

You can't even preview what your effects are doing let alone preview the time line playing.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 16, 2011 Feb 16, 2011

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i am trying to buy a pc from either HP or Dell that will allow me to take advantage of this Mercury/CUDA.

unfortunately, none of the nvidia options they provide are on the list as published by adobe.

i find this a little strange.

help?

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LEGEND ,
Feb 16, 2011 Feb 16, 2011

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Build your own.  It'll be cheaper, and you can use whatever card you want.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 16, 2011 Feb 16, 2011

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thanks. i don't feel like building my own - hardware is a pain. i just want

to order something that works.

rob

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Adobe Employee ,
Feb 16, 2011 Feb 16, 2011

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I have a HP Z600 workstation that is a nice design and kind of inexpensive (relative).  Their onsite warranty is quite nice.  My Z600 runs CS5 like a champ.

http://www.hp.com/sbso/busproducts-workstations.html

Dennis

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Feb 23, 2011 Feb 23, 2011

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I just posted an article on the Premiere Pro team blog based on the information and questions in this forum thread.

If you have more questions, keep them coming.

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