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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
Jan 04, 2011 Jan 04, 2011

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Feel free to ask questions, folks.


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Community Beginner ,
Jan 04, 2011 Jan 04, 2011

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Why a list?

I find it a bit unfair that there should be a list and a very small one at that, when I was buying my card I looked at the GTX 470 which is now on the list but all the revues said that the newer GTX 460 was better I.E. faster lower power consumption etc. Anyone buying a card has a dilemma, buy the older slower card and be on the list or buy the newer faster card which is not on the list. Why can't PPCS5 just look at your card and decide whether it's good enough to use Mercury ? Harm mentioned that it was possible to "hack" PP to use a non listed card and I have done this but is it allowed ?

Regards

Kevin Mooney

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Jan 04, 2011 Jan 04, 2011

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> Why a list?

There's a lot of testing work that goes into making sure that a given card works without problems and actually provides the features in a way that we can support.

We don't want to say that people can use any card and then have some cards cause problems. We learned this the hard way on the After Effects side, where a lot of problems arise from people trying to use the OpenGL features with cards that we haven't been abe to test against and verify.

If there's a specific card that you want us to add to the list of cards that Premiere Pro CS5 can use for CUDA processing, then let us know with a feature request.

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New Here ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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I agree. Your list is very limited and affects many, many people. I bought a Nvidia Quadro FX-1800 especifically to use it with Premiere Pro CS5. Now I find out I can't use the GPU acceleration that Adobe brags about.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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The Quadro FX-1800 doesn't have enough video RAM to work with Premiere Pro CS5 or CS5.5.  You need a card with at least 1 GB of video RAM.  And for good performance, it needs to be GDDR5 video RAM (not GDDR3).

You can buy an NVidia GTS 450 for a little over $100, and if you follow the directions here:

http://www.studio1productions.com/Articles/PremiereCS5.htm

it works great.

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New Here ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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Then, can someone tell me why I spent the money on a Quadro FX-1800 and what good is this card for?

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Guide ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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Hi,

I haven't googled the card to see if its possible, but sometimes you can

upgrade ( add ) memory to the card.. I hope you find a good solution one way

or the other. Maybe you can return the card and get a refund and get another

card that works OK ? Sorry you're having trouble with this...

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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baron jorel wrote:

Then, can someone tell me why I spent the money on a Quadro FX-1800

???

baron jorel wrote:

and what good is this card for?

http://completed.shop.ebay.com/i.html?LH_ItemCondition=12&_nkw=Quadro%20FX-1800&LH_Complete=1

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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Did you read the supported cards list before you bought the card?  Did you read the system requirements?  If not, why not?  If so, then why did you choose that card?

-Jeff

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New Here ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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I followed Video Guys suggestions and they recommended the FX-1800 because, according to them worked with PPro CS5 and Win 7 64bit, which is what I have. I also called them to ask why not another card, a Radeon, for instance, and they told me about CUDA. That was last year. since then, they have updated their info and changed their specs for their "dream" (my word, not theirs) workstation.

In any case, I work a lot on PS CS5 and the card seems to be doing its job.

However, I don't understand, given the amount of FX-1800 out there, why Adobe can't do a patch to recognize this card.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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For the simple reason that it does not have enough memory.

Why did you buy it in the first place? I think because you went for it based on information from VideoGuys or other sources that related to CS4, not CS5+. Because your information was out of date at the moment of purchase and you did not check whether that was still accurate. Nobody to blame but yourself.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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I followed Video Guys suggestions and they recommended the FX-1800

I think you have a legitimate beef with Video Guys.  Point them to info in this forum, in the system requirements for CS5/CS5.5 and ask them to explain to you why they recommended that card.  If you bought the FX-1800 from them, insist on getting your money back or on getting a replacement card that *does* meet minimum specs.

-Jeff

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New Here ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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Unfortunately, I didn't get the card from them and their comment to my questions a few hours ago was "it's an old card." Does Pontius Pilate come to mind?

The folks at Nvidia did say that the card uses CUDA and everything else that PPro CS5 throws at it, except the Mercury engine - again, software related.

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Guide ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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It's nice that they responded to your question about the card and your

problem isn't it. Even though you didn't buy the card from them, I mean ?

People here will help you figure out the solutions to your editing problems

even though they didn't " sell " you the card either. And the pros here

will not assume the retailer you implicated but did not buy from is at fault

either.

If you need more help finding a better card, and maybe trading yours in for

another, please let us know... or do some searching here...as there have

been a lot of threads about what works well....

Good luck and hope you can trade that card in etc

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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baron jorel wrote:

Unfortunately, I didn't get the card from them and their comment to my questions a few hours ago was "it's an old card."

Yes, it's an old card: only 64 CUDA cores, and only 768 MB of the slower GDDR3 RAM.

baron jorel wrote:

The folks at Nvidia did say that the card uses CUDA and everything else that PPro CS5 throws at it, except the Mercury engine - again, software related.

Yes, just like Windows has minimum hardware requirements.  In fact, most software you buy has minimum hardware requirements.

In the case of the Mercury Playback Engine, the minimum requirements for the video card seem to be:

1) At least 1 GB of video card RAM.

2) For good performance, the video card RAM should be GDDR5, not the slower GDDR3 type.

3) For good performance, at least 96 CUDA processing cores.

As an example, here's a card with 192 cores and 1 GB of the faster GDDR5 RAM for only $99 (after rebate):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125341&cm_re=gts_450-_-14-125-341-_-Product

just edit the cuda_supported_cards.txt file as described here:

http://www.studio1productions.com/Articles/PremiereCS5.htm

and it works great with the Mercury Playback Engine.

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New Here ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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So let me ask you this. With my system Win7 64 bit with 12 GRam and a Raid 0 assembly, and given that I use PS, Indesign and Illustrator (all CS5), would you trade the FX-1800 for a GTX 470?

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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baron jorel wrote:

So let me ask you this. With my system Win7 64 bit with 12 GRam and a Raid 0 assembly, and given that I use PS, Indesign and Illustrator (all CS5), would you trade the FX-1800 for a GTX 470?

The GTX 470 has 448 CUDA cores.  The FX-1800 has 64 cores.  In other words, the GTX 470 is MUCH more powerful than the FX-1800.

I'm not sure how much difference it will make in the apps you list though.  I mainly use Premiere.  Keep in mind that CS5 uses both the CPU and GPU (graphics processor) to get the job done, and certian types of tasks split the workload differently between the two types of processors.  To see how much of the CPU and GPU you use in your typical work, download the NVIDIA system monitor tool here:

http://www.nvidia.com/object/nvidia_system_tools_6.06.html

This shows CPU and GPU usage in real time, as well as disk and memory usage.  That's the best way to find the weakest link in your system for your specific type of work.

Also, if you decide to go with the GTX 470, make sure your system's power supply will handle it.  You'll need at least a 550 watt power supply to run the GTX 470.  The FX-1800 only requires a 450 watt power supply.

Hope this helps.

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New Here ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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Helps a lot. Thank you.

Peter

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Guide ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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videoguys are a family run business with nothing but the best information and intensions to help people get what they need to meet their needs. I personally recommend them for all solutions to editing platforms and information about adobe premiere pro editing software and other platforms. Similar to the way these guys do, but without the entire build of platform

http://www.adkvideoediting.com/

Nothing here suggests there is anything "wrong" with what videoguys have done to satisfy this issue here...and I suspect the customer didn't do his homework and didn't  ASK the videoguys what would WORK with the specs the customer had at the time.  I would maybe not be so fast with pointing fingers of " BLAME" here....

and try to solve the problem... eg. call videoguys and explain your problem to them and let us know what the outcome of that is so we can all benefit from the solution you find , OK ?

thanks

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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videoguys are a family run business with nothing but the best information

Except in this case, wouldn't you say?

-jeff

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LEGEND ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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Hard to judge when nobody saw the link, the context in which it was written, the version it referenced, the date it was posted, etc.

Once upon a time the FX1800 was a very good card for CS4 and I can imagine VideoGuys recommended it at that moment in time. But to extrapolate those recommendations to also include CS5 is another matter.

FYI, Gary from VideoGuys does a tremendous job with his hardware guides and does not recommend anything that he does not stand behind for 100%. But, technology progresses and what was utterly true x months ago can be shown to be the worst investment today. All that is of course hindsight and it applies to a lot of my articles as well (I need to update those ).

From the info I got from this thread, my conclusion in post # 60 still holds unless proven otherwise.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 14, 2011 Jun 14, 2011

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we offer tons of FREE advice and system recommendations on our website. Some of them are general, while others are specific Since CS5 launched we have gone out of our way to not only specify which graphics cards to use, we have also supplied links to articles on 'hacking' the Mercury Playback Engine for older cards. We initially did this becuase the GTX460 card was not supported in CS5, but with the hack provided phenomenal Mercury performance.We did not and do not recommend the QuadroFX1800 for the Mercury Playback engine. It does not have enough CUDA cores or RAM.

Note: I have to give props to the guys over at ADK for pointing out the hack for the GTX cards on our old user forums. Unfortunately these forums are no longer active, our provider went out of business.

This is from the our old CS5 Production Premium page, under the system recommendations tab & from our Get a Better Editing Workflow when You Make the Switch to Adobe CS5 Production Premium Guide from last fall:


Videoguys System Recommendations for Adobe CS5 Production Premium

The new CS5 version of Adobe Premeire Pro requires a  64-bit operating system, a multi-core processor, plenty of RAM and a  fast GPU. We realize that you may need to upgrade your machine. Here is  the base system specs that Videoguys recommend that will give you  excellent performance and optimized Mercury playback.

  • http://www.webvideoguys.com/images/mac-tiny-15h.pngMac Snow Leopard 10.6.3
  • Intel based Quad Core Processor or faster
  • At least 6 GB RAM but 12 GB is even better!
  • GTX285;  Quadro FX 4800MAC, Quadro4000MAC

  • http://www.webvideoguys.com/images/icon_windows_7.pngWindows 7 64-bit
  • Intel Quad-Core Processor or faster
  • At least 6 GB RAM but 12 GB is even better!
  • GTX285,  GTX460 w/ 1GB* ; GTX 470; Quadro FX 3800/4800/5800, Quadro 4000/5000

* Although Adobe CS5 officially only supports a  handful of GPU for the mercury playback engine, we have provided links  on our blog to articles that show you how to enable MANY other nVidia  cards for Mercury.

I'm sorry if you purchased the WRONG graphics card from another vendor. I do not see why this is Videoguys fault. If you had purhased the card from us we would offer you a full refund within 30 days. Which is our standard customer satisfaction guarantee. If you had called us to order it on  he phone, and you told us it was for CS5, we would have told you to get the Quadro 2000/4000 or a GTX470/570.

Gary

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 15, 2011 Jun 15, 2011

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Gary,

Thank you for taking the time to reply.  It's clear now that it was the user who either mis-read the info on your site, or chose to ignore it (for whatever reason).

-Jeff

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Guide ,
Jun 15, 2011 Jun 15, 2011

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Gary at Videoguys ,

Thanks for the clarification and links etc. Should prove helpful to a lot of people.

Have you been in touch with megaplayground yet ? It's a new post place in NYC expanding quickly. I think their site is megaplayground.com ( and think they have an international presence as well as NYC ).

PM me and I'll give you a contact name there if you want. Might be a good client for you ?

Rodney Bauer

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