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Technology Sneek Peek: Adobe® Mercury Playback Engine

Lets start with the big, bold, brash, brazen, big-time, blow-your-mind (are there any other ‘big’ adjectives I’ve missed?) statement about the Adobe® Mercury Playback Engine: It is a game changer.

Haven’t heard about the Mercury Playback engine yet?  Good – Read on!

Brief Update – Hopefully, the read of this blog entry is entertaining, but in order to ‘see it in action’ I’ve embedded Dave’s video. Give it a view and then read on…

Let’s start with the back-story or history on the Adobe Mercury Playback engine.  Back at IBC in September, the show happened in Amsterdam and while Adobe was there talking about several things including Adobe Story – over at the NVIDIA booth, we were showing a technology preview with quiet undertones.  It didn’t have the name Mercury and it wasn’t even really the big thing we were showing.  However, John at FXGuide was over there and among several other tidbits, included Adobe in a podcast that he did over at the show. A month crawls along and during that time, the podcast starts to get some mentions in various forums and chatter amongst the creative crowd… People start to get excited about the possibilities and ask questions.  Here’s the high bandwidth version for your viewing pleasure.

Let me be clear before I go any further: This is a technology demo only and while Adobe is very excited, it’s not something that is available now in CS4 nor are we commenting about exactly when it will make an appearance.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled exciting blog post…

Somewhere along the way, amidst the growing awareness at Adobe, we conferred upon how to let our customers know about this exciting technology that we were working on and how to respond to the growing awareness of it.  Simple questions like, ‘How do we respond?’, ‘How much do we tell customers’ and several more like it.  Another question was, ‘What do we call it?’ For, as each person began to play with prototypes of this technology, each was convinced of its incredible potential.  This group included myself and my first casual examination of the Mercury Playback engine convinced me of it’s importance – more on that later.

Mercury as a name is interesting.  You could think of Greek/Roman mythology.  The God Hermes/Mercury was the winged messenger (makes me think of Gustav Holst’sThe Planets.“)  Mercury was fast, which makes sense in this context. There’s also the idea of Quicksilver, another name for the element Mercury, which again connotes speed and value (quick + silver).  Better perhaps is the idea of fluidity in the sense of the fluid editing experience that the Mercury Playback Engine creates.  Mercury the element has several unique properties, the foremost of which is it is the only metal that has a liquid state at room temperatures.  The Mercury Playback Engine has the potential of being very unique among the NLE players like the uniqueness of the element.

All of these things offer some shading and nuance to my thoughts about Adobe’s Mercury and cause me to have this level of enthusiasm.

So, here we are today – what is the Mercury Playback engine about?  In a word, performance!  It makes Premiere Pro do cartwheels and flips and barely breaks a sweat.  It’s like rocket fuel for your car.  It’s flat out incredible…

In my first test of Mercury, I dropped several P2 clips on a timeline, made them picture-in-picture and looked to see if there were any dropped frames during playback…nada.  I added more clips, bringing it up to eight or nine on my HP XW9400 with 12 cores of AMD goodness…  Think it’s the CPU?  No! It’s only being used at about 20-30%.  It’s GPU! I keep going and there is no hesitation in Premiere Pro. Okay, lets add some color correction to each one and while we’re at it, lets drop in some blurs (that will stop it right?)  Still playin’ like buttah!

I could go on but I think you get the idea.  As the FX Guide video described, we had 4 or 5 RED 4K images playing in real-time with very little CPU overhead which enabled us to do so much more in other areas. 

So as a thought, lets put the pieces together.  Premiere Pro CS4 is 64-bit optimized and making huge inroads into the high-end and having people all over the world taking another look if they’re not using it today. In October, we announced that the next version of Premiere Pro would be 64 bit native and 64 bit only. So, in the future, not only will you have the most current programming code on either platform (very important!), you will have among the best CPU utilization in the business, you will have 64 bit native goodness throughout and you have the insane performance of the GPU backing you up to make more things possible at once than ever before.  What’s not to like? Good question – lets take some now…

 Question: “What makes all of this ‘crazy’ stuff possible?” 

 Answer: It is a combination of different things.  Really, this is a great example of where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  What are the parts then?  It’s 64-bit native code, greater memory addressing, fantastic CPU optimization and finally NVIDIA CUDA technology.   Every one of these is critical, absolutely critical to making the future of non-linear editing better and more powerful than ever before.  Multi-core goodness and memory addressing are already hard at work in Premiere Pro CS4.  The 64-bit native code has been announced and now we bring in NVIDIA CUDA technology to be the icing on the cake and a powerful new engine to squeeze out performance in Premiere Pro.  Before I wax philosophic on GPU, let me officially tip my hat to the incredible engineers at Adobe and their work here for the Mercury Playback Engine.  Their passion, intelligence and outright cunning is what’s making this possible.  Bravo!

On NVIDIA: I’ve always been a fan of NVIDIA and their Quadro product line has a huge market share in the professional graphics card industry, so it makes a lot of sense for us to partner with them to provide the horsepower behind this new technology.  In addition, NVIDIA has been deeply involved in helping make this happen because like us, they know the customer and try to deliver the technology to enable more powerful and flexible workflows.

Question: “Why should I care about this?”

Answer: It’s a fair question.  Ultimately, the harnessing of the GPU provides Adobe with another way to fulfill a key strategic goal when designing our products: namely, removing the need for a user have to wait for the software to catch up to their creative vision.  Another way to think of it from Adobe’s perspective is that we already have great multi-processor CPU utilization, where can we get more power for the customer?  The answer is CUDA and hence the Mercury Playback engine.

One other aspect to this is the rate of innovation on GPU development.  While CPU’s from Intel and AMD continue to evolve and grow, the rate of innovation has slowed down dramatically.  This hasn’t been the case for GPU development.  We continue to see dramatic leaps in performance every 12-18 months.  The Quadro XXXX of today will be the GeForce of tomorrow and that means that your performance on a given system will be able to develop rapidly over time at a much lower cost than ever before.

Question: “I don’t do 10 layers of video Dennis, how does this help me?”

Answer: Okay, but as we see more people doing digital film, working with RED 4K files (with bigger on the way), as well as complex, temporal based codecs such as AVCHD, the idea of harnessing the GPU in addition to the CPU promises benefits for nearly everyone.  Plus, while you may not do 10 layers of video at any one time, most people are using basic color correction, levels, curves and many other things on a regular basis.  I think Mercury will help you even if you’re just using a couple of layers.

Question: “Are there any downsides to this technology?”

Answer: I guess it depends on your point of view but my ‘net-net’ answer is no, there is no downside.  A more pragmatic and perhaps nuanced answer is ‘depends’.  If you’re an ATI fan, you know that CUDA is NVIDIA products only and consequently, you’ll either do without this feature or you’ll switch to NVIDIA.  Adobe has a valuable relationship with ATI/AMD and we’re looking at things like OpenCL, which is a cross-platform GPU approach to what CUDA is.

Question: “Why didn’t you use OpenCL then?”

Answer: OpenCL wasn’t finished or ratified when this decision was made.  Given a choice between doing it with CUDA or not doing it for a while because of OpenCL, we chose the former.  Besides, as I mentioned, NVIDIA has a hugely dominant market share in the professional graphics market, so we think that most people will be comfortable with the options available to them.

Question: “Will you support OpenCL in the future?”

Answer: Clearly this is an answer for someone higher up to answer, but my hunch is that we’ll certainly look at it in the future as it aligns with our goals of being open and non-propietary.

Question: “Anything else I should know?”

Answer: Yes. The list of approved GPU cards will be limited initially to ensure that we have a consistent experience for our customers.   Obviously this begs the question of which cards are you going to support?  I think the answer here could be a moving target but two cards that I’ve been told will be supported are the GeForce GTX 285, the Quadro FX 4800, 5800 and the Quadro CX.  I’m currently doing my testing with the Quadro 4800.  The GeForce GTX 285 card should be one to really look at as it’s street price is only about $300.00 and provides a real value to users that are looking to get the maximum bang for the buck. 

Update 1-14-10: We will have support for the Quadro FX 3800 as well.

Lest you think that you Mac folks will be left out, you’ll notice that both the GeForce GTX 285 and the Quadro 4800 are both available for Mac…and so is the Mercury Playback Engine!

NVIDIA has announced that new cards will ship in early 2010 and I don’t know how that will impact which cards we support, but our general goals will be to a) provide consistent GPU performance across the cards we support b) support as many cards at as many prices as possible.  My hunch is that the initial list will be small, but we’ll do our best to expand upon that in future.  With new cards on the way, I wouldn’t run out to buy a card now unless I had to, but if you do, at least you have a good sense of what will be supported.

In addition, I don’t think there will be any approved laptop GPU processors as most of them are designed to be for laptops and just don’t provide the kind of horsepower to make a real difference.  This bums me out as I typically demo and present on a laptop, but the engineers and product management are telling me that there just isn’t enough juice to get a real sizeable performance difference out of them.  Again, this probably changes over the course of time.

Seeing is believing and I hope that you’ll have the opportunity to see the Mercury Playback Engine in action some time in the future.  I know if I’m the one presenting it to you, that I’ll be excited to show it!



hi 4x GeForce GTX 590 1x Quadro 5000 what better?
question for admin…

[DR – Quadro5000 is officially supported whereas the GTX590 is not. However, you can get it working if you do some digging.]

I’m building a new PC based on Intel Core I7 second generation 2600K chip. Intel claims that 2600K has very powerful graphics engine. Is it comparable with CUDA? Do I need to buy NVIDIA GT480 or I7 graphics is powerful enough for Premiere CS5.5 HD editing?

[DR – Any graphics engine for CS5 or CS5.5 that does not have NVIDIA will not be able to use the GPU hardware acceleration of the Mercury Playback Engine. That said, you will still have a very fast system that will be able to run Premiere Pro CS5.5 and do HD Editing. My most recent blog entry the three components of the Mercury Playback Engine should help you understand what each does and what’s most important.]

Yeah, the mercury playback engine is a sweetie, but without the fx quadro the performance would unarguably suffer a lot. Still, the hardware performance plays a big role on the performance of software. Software hasn’t been developed yet to the stage when you can run it perfectly smooth with an integrated video card. Will it ever be possible?

[DR – I would tend to disagree. What the GPU really brings to the table is load balancing. Historically, the CPU had to take the whole load. Now with the GPU, we can choose to create a better balance. Despite that, a system without the GPU card is still a tremendous performer because of 64-bit, multi-threading, multi-processing, RAM, etc.

Also, GeForce cards are approved and compatible, though I heartily recommend a Quadro card for its superior engineering and reliability.

Finally, to answer your question – I don’t see integrated video being able to help something like Premiere Pro for several years. an on-board graphics system is budgetary by design and therefore not a good choice for Premiere Pro.]

This is a good news.
Now, I just have to wait for OpenCL support from Adobe.

Great Post.. Thanks Lot…

i’m creig paraino from the philippines, graphic artist

1st question: why do GRAPHICSOFTWARES (i.e. photoshop, corel etc.)
need high RAM and high end video cards?

our I.T management recommend this specs:

Lenovo Thinkcentre M70e desktop
Intel Core2Duo E7600 3.06Ghz 3MB L2 Cache
4GB PC3-8500 memory
Intel IBM Motherboard
Optional: 1GB VGA 250 series for graphics need.

and these are our recommended specs for graphic artist:

processor: Intel i7 950x Extreme Edition
motherboard: Eclipse Plus
support memory types: 33 Mhz DDR3 RDIMM
RAM: 4gb ddr3 (2x 2gb)
Graphics Support: MSI N470GTX-M2D12
Power Supply: R88 Power 900w
Hard disk: Sata 320gig
casing: In Win fanqua

What can you say about it? can you explain specifically so our boss can understand it?

[DR – this is a topic best handled in the forums http://forums.adobe.com/community/premiere/premierepro_current

However, I will briefly say that the first system is underpowered (laptop CPU in a desktop). The second system does not need Extreme Edition. I’d save that money and pour it into RAM – 4GB isn’t even close to enough for Premiere Pro or After Effects.]

Hello: what about the new mbp with nvidia cards? Or the new line of mbp dropping early this year also with nvidia cards?

[DR – the nvidia GPU needs at least 768MB of memory to be useful to the Mercury Playback Engine, so current MBP’s with 330M’s don’t qualify as they have 512MB. Applying the hack doesn’t work either. If a new MBP comes out with an nvidia card and at least 768MB of RAM, then we might have something.]


Dear Adobe, please support the GTX 560 Ti in the Mercury Playback Engine, it replaces the discontinued GTX 470.

hi there, i was wondering what’s the main difference between the quadro fx 4800 and the gtx 470?

they seem to have the same specs & i want to use these cards for the cuda acceleration using premiere / after effects…

im just wondering why i should spend the xtra $ on the fx 4800 over the gtx 470?


[DR – Quadro cards are the superior chips with a better engineering design wrapped around them and will gracefully degrade whereas geforce could just quit on you. Bottom line, is both cards are good. At this date (January 2011), I’m hearing GTX470 cards are already starting to dry up and the replacement for the Quadro FX4800 is the Quadro 5000. One other card to look at is the Quadro 4000 – more processing than the 4800 but less than $1000.00 US.

Final note – After Effects uses OpenGL and not CUDA, so the tangible benefits for AE are quite limited.]

Thank you very much for your response. A big help>

I suppose the “Hack” will not work with an ATI card? Only NiVidia?

[DR – you are correct in your statement.]

Also, the Mac Pro flag ship Apple towers come with ATI GPUs unless custom ordering a specific graphic cards.

[DR – As of today (12/10), Apple doesn’t not stock any NVIDIA GPUs nor makes them available as an add on. I have no idea of when that might change. My recommendation in this case would be to purchase the absolute cheapest ATI card for the Mac tower you could and get the Quadro 4000 somewhere else.]

And, let us not forget all the new iMacs also use only ATI GPUs. Imagine my disappointment when I bought a brand new iMac with intentions of using Pr CS5 and I cannot use the Mercury Playback engine. When I spoke with Apple I specifically stated I was buying the iMac for this purpose and they insisted it would run perfectly on the iMac. Perfectly to me means MPE working. It does not. Even Adobe tech support thinks it should work with ATI HD 5750. They are obviously clueless over in India about this very specific requirement.

[DR – Technically, you do have two thirds of the MPE (64-bit native and memory addressing). However, you are correct that that you do not have GPU hardware acceleration which is specific to CUDA enabled nvidia cards. If you want Mercury Playback hardware support and a Mac, you would have to get a Mac tower and the Quadro 4000. On the PC side, you have more choices in this case.]



Adobe, please support the GTX 580 and GTX 570 since you do support the GTX 480 and GTX 470 as well as the discontinued GTX 285 which is much much slower than the 580 or 570.

[DR – thanks for the comments. We’ll see how we do.]

The MacBook Pro now uses the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M card. Is this card CUDA enabled?

Do you have any information on when it will be possible to use the Premiere’s Mercury Playback Engine on a laptop like the Macbook Pro? Or on any laptop for that matter?

[DR – I’m using the Mercury Playback Engine on my 3 year old Macbook Pro today. Remember the Mercury Playback Engine is comprised of three things:
1 – 64-bit native application
2 – 64-bit memory addressing
3 – CUDA enabled GPU hardware acceleration (with the proper nvidia card)

So, any CS5 user is getting the most important parts of MPE. That isn’t Adobe marketing gobbly-gook either. The 64-bit native and memory parts are more valuable than the GPU.

Currently, there is no MacBook Pro that would allow users to utilize the GPU since Apple is currently favoring ATI GPU’s for their laptops. This may perhaps change in the future.]

Thanks for the blog, it is refreshing to have a company that actually interfaces with their customers in a very real way.

My question- is there any update on MPE certification testing on Fermi nVidia mobile Quadro GPUs (at this point, that would just be the 5000m). I know a while ago in the blog (don’t remember how many months ago) you alluded to the fact that Adobe wasn’t planning on really certifying any mobile GPUs. I wasn’t sure if that was in reference to the older mobile quadro line (FX 3800m), or if the more powerful 5000m (and subsequent) fermi mobile GPUs have changed that stance. Having that acceleration in a computer that could be right on set and in the field (i.e., a laptop) would be a huge help in a lot of production situations.

(Just FYI, no complaints about Adobe’s careful certification process. It is Adobe Premiere “PRO”, and to a working professional, stability and consistent, predictable performance is crucial)

Any update you can give would be appreciated.


[DR – The updated list does not include the 5000M card, but I bet if you used the ‘hack’ that it would perform pretty well. We do want to expand GPU support but as you mentioned, we’re being cautious. I’m also glad that you recognize our efforts to ensure a consistent user experience and that “PRO” does in fact stand for something.]



Please support the latest Quadro Fermi cards also in the Mercury Playback Engine.

[DR – to my knowledge, we have no plans of adding additional support in the short term. We have just added support for the Quadro 4000, 5000 and GTX 470 cards.]

Do you have any information on when it will be possible to use the Premiere’s Mercury Playback Engine on a laptop like the Macbook Pro? Or on any laptop for that matter?

[DR – The Mercury Playback Engine has three aspects: 64-bit native application, 64-bit memory addressing and GPU. The Macbook Pro supports the first two (the most important two) but not the third as all of their current GPU cards are ATI. The GPU technology is based on nvidia’s CUDA technology and as a result is not compatible with ATI.]

Any word on when the 3800M will be supported? I have a new dell M6500 and would really like to ge the most out of the HD and SW.

[DR – Unfortunately, the 3800M did not officially make the final list.]

This is good news.
Now, I just have to wait for OpenCL support from Adobe.

Will the “hack” interfere with the future update in any negative ways?

Will users with the “hack” have to restore the altered text file to its original state before installing the update (basically, by deleting their added card from the file)?

In a few weeks my new computer equipped with the GTX 460 will arrive and I plan on doing the “hack”. However, I don’t want to prevent the future update from working properly.

Thanks for all your help.

[DR – The ‘hack’ will not harm the 5.02 update in any way. Why not get the GTX 470 which is now officially supported?]

How long? How long? As one who falls more into your second camp; getting more desperate to replace my current computer but stuck in limbo land awaiting details of which offical cards I am keen for an updated crumb of information on dates. Will it really be third quarter 2010 – you only have a month left! Or will we be left to drift in the infinite ether of computer update space where time seems to slow, stop or even reverse?! Thanks for your blog btw most interesting.

[DR – it will really be Q3. There are new Quadro cards out there and I believe one new GeForce card as well.]


as it seems to me the main reason of this mess with the nvidia cards and adobe cs5 products is that quadro fx pro cards are obsoleted.
And adobe waits until it can test new pro line Nvidia cards based on Femi technology.

Because for now the performance of the gtx 470 is equal to quadro fx 5800 (as many people have tested these two cards), but the price difference is about 10 times.

And i’m afraid that according adobe premiere you can use gtx 470 and it will work as new quadro femi cards. Just for video rendering you have just to use as more CUDAs as possible.
And nvidia marketing along with adobe have to think what to do with this “feature” 🙂

All evil is from marketing side:)

[DR – There is a difference between working and certified. Clearly, there is a customer segment that wants to use the latest technology as soon as they get their hands on it. To that end, users have discovered and used the ‘Mercury Hack’ to get other (newer) cards to work with CS5.

The other type of customer is one who wants an assurance of what will work and a consistent user experience and a company to yell at (Adobe) if it isn’t working the way it should. That customer will wait for a forthcoming update that will add support for many of the cards you’re talking about.

We’re trying to allow both types of customers to be successful. We want customers to have a consistent experience and to that end, we’re cautious about which cards we approve and when they come out. For those that have confidence that their card will work or want to experiment, you have an avenue of exploration, but Adobe is clear that we don’t officially support it.

All of this may sound like ‘evil marketing’ but it’s my most honest and candid answer. Thanks for your comments.]

Does Adobe support the new Fermi based Quadro cards yet or will it take months before an update will be released that supports it fully?





[DR – My understanding (and I make mistakes!) is that we should have support for them on or shortly after they actually ship (which may be a short while).]

DR – I’m not aware of the problem you describe but most of these problems boil down to an incompatibility between components which is most often resolved with a newer (or older) driver version from nvidia.]

Any word on when the 3800M will be supported? I have a new dell M6500 and would really like to ge the most out of the HD and SW.

[DR – Keith, I believe the Quadro 3800M will be the first mobile processor that will be officially supported, but until it is, I can’t ‘officially’ recommend it! ;-). If you get it, you can try the little hack that’s out there and I expect you’ll see a nice boost in performance.]


Is the GTX 460 is supported with Premiere? It’s faster than the discontinued GTX 285 while using less power and less noise.

[DR – I have a feeling we’ll be answering this kind of question for months/years to come! 😉 There are a number of factors in trying to support the cards not the least of which is what was out there 6 months before CS5 shipped. We’re working on an update to add more cards, but in general we’ll be working on testing Quadro cards more as a rule since they are engineered to a higher quality and their chip selection and graceful degradation are also determining factors.

I know that this doesn’t wash with some customers as many people consider Quadro cards to be too expensive, but our stated goal is to have a consistent user experience and performance with GPU acceleration. We’d rather have less cards out there and a consistent performance than open it up to everything and have a lot of people complain that it doesn’t help them. Make sense?

However, the Internet is a beautiful thing as its been a known fact that you can add support for any newer card in an unsupported way. Google “Mercury Playback Engine Hack” and see what it turns up. So you can see how your GTX 460 does right now.

To directly answer your question – my guess right now is that we will not officially add support and optimization for the GTX 460, but I don’t have any knowledge to back that up.

Hope this helps.]

The guy who was having a problem with “tearing” IS having a refresh-faster-than-sync problem:
the video-card changing what frame it’s displaying, partway through the scan, is what causes the “tearing”.

adobe is great but some features ara very expensive


[DR – Thanks for the comment. Overall, I think that Adobe has provided a lot of value in each release that we’ve put out there and the value of the suite is very high in any way you look at it. Still, I understand that it can be expensive and that not everyone uses all of those applications.]

Can you tell us the exact hardware setup used in your ‘Technology Sneek Peek: Adobe® Mercury Playback Engine’ video?

[DR – Dual QuadCore, 8GB RAM, FX4800]

This is good news.
Now, I just have to wait for OpenCL support from Adobe.

This is good news.
Now, I just have to wait for OpenCL support from Adobe.

Hey, thanks for the article.

Well, ATI and\or nvidia shouldn’t matter, but in any case, the “use” of GPU’s to greatly assist in rendering/encoding has been a long time coming for sure.
This is good news.
Now, I just have to wait for OpenCL support from Adobe.

AMD/ATI GPU’s have been mopping the floor with nvidia for over a year now !?
OpenCL “IS” the future Adobe, and NOT proprietary CUDA from a lackluster nvidia.
-sheeesh 🙂
Is Adobe nutz, or what?

[DR – As stated previously, Adobe will evaluate OpenCL for the future, but in order to present choice to the customer today, it was either do CUDA or not do GPU at all.]

Question: “Why didn’t you use OpenCL then?”

Adobe just proved what eeediots they really are, by locking themselves out of the “BETTER” GPU’s in the world-namely AMD’s GPU’s

[DR – ah well, can’t please everybody…It was either deliver the technology today with CUDA or wait 2-3 years to deliver it with ATI and nvidia. We chose to give users the choice.]

I’m surprised no one asked this yet, because that is why I Googled you blog. 🙂

Can you tell us the exact hardware setup used in your ‘Technology Sneek Peek: Adobe® Mercury Playback Engine’ video?



[DR – I took a look over at Dave’s blog and I think he didn’t allow comments on the post which is why it probably didn’t bubble up. I don’t know for sure, but my guess would be as follows:

8-core HP Z800
Quadro FX 4800
8-16GB of RAM
4 7200 RPM SATA drives striped together.

While this is a decent system, it will be a very average system in the next couple of years. Nor is it by any means the ultimate computer. I hope this helps.]

Nice post. I’m running Dual E5520 Xeon CPU’s with currently 12Gb Ram and looking to buy a GTX480 card. I wonder how that card will compare to the expensive “pro” quadro-cards.

“We are testing the GTX480 now but I do not know when or if it will pass our tests and become fully supported. Since CS5 is not even official yet (4/9/10), I honestly don’t know.”

[DR – With the new Fermi architecture, we expect that we will get very good performance. Hopefully, we’ll see something ‘official’ later this summer.]

Will MPE! render all effect in timeline faster ?
Or we got the same result in rendering time between with and withot MPE! ?

[DR – If you have MPE accelerated effects in the timeline, the GPU will assist in rendering those for your final output.]

Hi there,

Great Blog, so do you know something more about the gtx 480 support? Since you tested it on the 9th of april. Hope you got some good news! Keep up the good work.

About Nvidia having the bulk of the “professional market” … that’s the point.

First, Nvidia can do OpenCL too, so no problem there. “Professionals” will be all set.

Second, ATI is finally taking the “professional” market seriously. And now, with OpenCL, it makes sense. New cards coming, and looking good.

But third, and more important for Adobe, the market of people that can obtain a good “user experience” with the products, professionals or not, could EXPAND tremendously with upcoming multi-CPU/GPU combo products that are inexpensive.

Professionals may have 85% Nvidia, but professionals are 1% of the total potential market for a premiere-lite or a afx-lite type of product PROVIDED people had sufficent power with a $500 desktop for their Canon 7D shoots.

Well, if CUDA is not needed, soon you could have a 3Ghz 4-cores 4GB RAM fast CPGPU/GPU machine on every house in the world (thanks mostly to AMD/ATI products).

But if you insist on CUDA 1.3+, that price is automatically “doubled” meaning 1% of homes could satisfactorily run premiere-lite compared to the competition.

And professionals would benefit as well from all this, since they’ll get a choice of hardware that, til now, HAD to be limited to Nvidia in practice but no longer, freeing from a near-monopoly into free market pricing.

Again, except for CUDA.

CUDA made all sense in the world for CS5. CUDA would make no sense whatsoever for CS6. IMHO. And the longer adobe products are tied to a single hardware manufacturer’s fortune, the harder it will be to break appart when the competition starts to outrun it (thinking Vegas, Canopus, Avid, etc) thanks to faster/cheaper OpenCL hardware, new compilers, libraries, etc …

not supporting ati cards is rubbish and just a marketing scheme to sell nvidia. nvidia cards are crap and not as powerful as ati. shame for adobe to be deceptive like this. i wont buy cs5 period!

[DR – as I’ve explained in other posts and comments, to do OpenCL in the CS5 timeframe and support ATI cards was just not possible. It wouldn’t have happened. So, given the choice between doing CUDA and getting increased performance or not doing it, we chose to do CUDA.

Let me also remind you that the Mercury Playback Engine has three components: 64 bit native application, 64-bit memory addressing and GPU enhancements. You are still getting two of the three benefits, so CS5 is still a very viable solution for people with ATI graphics cards.

Thanks for your concern and comments.]

My vote:

The gtx470 (and thus 480 or viceversa) support the same programming level than the 485, so it would seem like an automatic given they are supported in the short term. Anything other, and it would all smell fishy.

After CS5 is done, scrape CUDA and go for OpenCL as new products coming from ATI seem like they could expand the market for high power/low cost multi core CPU/GPU in a big way. And Nvidia can do OpenCL pretty good too, of course.

Rely in one single hardware manufacturer (i.e. NVIDIA w/CUDA) and you can see what can happen, with their current generation of cards being late, overpriced, power hungry and VERY (very) scarce with very low manufacturing yields to the verge of impracticality.

[DR – I tend to agree with a lot of what you suggest, though the case for OpenCL isn’t quite as clear cut as you would think. To do it, we’ll have to do some of the work all over again just to get where we are with CS5. Then, we’re adamant about testing and certifying cards as we want to give customers a consistent experience. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, nvidia owns somewhere between 80-90% of the professional market. If that’s the case, there becomes a good reason to stay with CUDA. That’s not to say we won’t do OpenCL – I honestly don’t know at this point (I’m just a field guy. ;-)…]

I have to use a laptop because of portability. I am looking at a new laptop using the Quadro FX 3800M. Will this “mobile” version of the QFX 3800 be supported? I am getting conflicting responses. Thanks

[DR – We hope to be able to expand the list of supported cards in the future to include laptops. However, at this time, the 3800M is not a supported card – no laptop card is.]

Great blog Dennis, enjoyed reading every post and your answers.
I was just wondering what specifications you think are necessary for the harddiscs to run the mercury engine with 9 P2/XDCAM layers.
Will this be a tremendous fast (expensive) Raid0 array (like 700MB/s) or, and this is the interesting part, will a single USB3.0 Highspeed drive be able to run this?
USB3.0 being introduced as a 5GB/s speed interface, exceeding even the 3GB/s speedlimit of a SATAII disc(!)

Oh, and for what it’s worth: GTX470/480 support would be the most logical next approved GPU card. I’ve read you’re testing now (in the April 9 post).
Keep my fingers crossed.

[DR – drive array used to play the 9 drives is probably only two drives raided together. Maybe 4. It’s interesting to note that drive throughput will probably be the biggest limiting factor in performance for some codecs.

re: GTX470/480 – we agree and are testing internally. I do not know if we will support them, but it does make sense.]

Nice post. I’m running Dual E5520 Xeon CPU’s with currently 12Gb Ram and looking to buy a GTX480 card. I wonder how that card will compare to the expensive “pro” quadro-cards.

[DR – We are testing the GTX480 now but I do not know when or if it will pass our tests and become fully supported. Since CS5 is not even official yet (4/9/10), I honestly don’t know.]

I’m sure NVidia has a lot of interest in you guys limiting the cards you allow, but I would simply like to suggest that you open up Mercury to support any NVidia card that has the CUDA requirements (which would almost certainly include at least all 9xxx series and up). Let the user decide if the performance is good enough. In my case, for example, I don’t do 5 or 6 H264 videos at the same time – I do 1. Any old GeForce 9xxx should be more than powerful enough to see some serious speed increases with that type of simple editing.

Thanks again for the great blog.

[DR – We tried an open GPU approach once before and it didn’t work out to well for either the customer or us. While we want to expand the list of cards as rapidly as possible, we prefer to have a limited number of cards that have guaranteed performance than anything goes.]

I think the other posts already mention how eager people are to see mercury working on something that is already doing really CPU intensive work (AE). Even if you have to completely create a new plugin format to utilise the GPU, it would be more than worth it.

On the question side of things, I’m curious to why Mercury is so selective with the GPUs it supports. From what I’ve read, I thought there was only three differences between the CUDA processing of every NV GPU out there (Double Precision etc). Would that not make it as simple as coding for a CPU (one size fits all)?

[DR – on AE – we’ll see, but I have to say that the performance of AE comps inside of Premiere Pro is nothing short of astounding! Granted, big comps won’t play in real-time, but I’ve seen 4+ layers with video, title and graphics playing in real-time through Premiere. Very promising.]

I researched into this a bit more. I found that you’ve already answered that AE is out of luck.
However, I’ve just watched a demo for Cinema4D and AE/premier CS3. The guy said that you can just drag/drop AE file in Premier and that it will play there.
Can I assume that the same is still possible with CS5 and that Mercury player will take care of rendering then? If so… AWESOME!

(still for playback purposes, I’d more than likely use AE and not Pr)

First off, I’d like to thank the author for a VERY interesting and insightful blog. I enjoyed reading it very much. It definitely made me think about getting an nvida card as my next primary GPU. I primarily do 3d work in 3ds Max, but real-time playback in Premier is nothing to sneeze at.

That said I have couple of insights:

***the Quadro XXXX of today will be the GeForce of tomorrow****

This is actually wrong. As everyone in hardware tech knows, it’s the other way around. Geforce line is the one that is leading the cutting edge. Quadro’s get geforce technology as fast as 6 months after the initial geforce release- presumably for stability testing. For the same reason, they tend to be slower than their geforce same-chip counterparts.

So to all asking how much would quadro fx 3800 be faster than the gtx 480 the answer is: it will be 80% slower.

qfx 3800 uses the original gtx 260 chip with 192 cores while gtx 480 has 480 cores that run significantly faster while having 2x faster memory bandwidth too. Also, gtx 480 has 1.5gb of RAM while qfx 3800 has 1gb.

For further info on what quadro card uses what geforce chip see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nvidia_Quadro


I do have a question: Adobe After Effects if far more relevant program to me- will it have access to Mercury player, or are we doomed to use CPUs there?

Hi DR.
I have a GTS250 card, seems like it’s not officially supported.Though I still wonder if this card would help in PR CS5? If not, I’ll buy a GTX470/480.

By the way, my mom is always complaining about the poor playback performance working in AE.(i7 920,12G) Hope this MPE will be integrated in AE CS5 ASAP.

[DR – The GTX470/480 cards you mentioned, while newer are also not currently supported. Until they are, it’s tough to recommend them.

As stated in other comments, Getting some GPU goodness into After Effects does make a lot of sense. ;-)]


I decided to go for Quadro FX 3800, just to be on a safe side.
I have one more question regarding graphic card in After Effect.
There is a bundale with Elemental Accelerator, with new Premier Pro CS5, this software is no longer needed, that is clear.
What about After Effect CS5 ?
Will I be able to use quadro power, let say in AF when I encode finished project ?
With Elemental Accelerator installed, there are some extra options in AF output module settings.
Elemental H.264,
Elemental MPEG2

Encoding times are cut in half.


[DR – After Effects would be a logical next step, but for CS5, the GPU goodness is only in Premiere Pro CS5.]

Thanks for responding to all these posts.

I would like to clear up two question that in one way or another have come up in different posts.

1. With MPE + GPU encoding turned on, do the GPU and CPU divide up in some way the rendering process, or does it completely take over the process of rendering, with the CPU just helping to pass along the information to the GPU for rendering?

2. All current GPU rendering engines suffer from somewhat serious quality issues compared to CPU rendering. I can understand that you may not be able to comment on quality per se, but could you at least confirm whether in fact the GPU rendered video is EXACTLY the same as non-GPU rendered video in MPE, or whether the video output is different? Thanks.

[DR – this is a short answer – no and no..

Slightly longer –
1) Good question, I don’t know
2) No, I haven’t done enough testing to quantitatively say that the quality is exactly the same, nor do I know exactly how AME utilizes CPU and GPU. I’ll try to get an answer for you.]

Hi DR,

So my takeaway from your 2 responses is:
1. If one has a not-state-of-the-art CPU, this technology will make rendering faster.
2. If one has a state-of-the-art CPU with plenty of free horsepower, this technology will further inclrease the CPU-idling, in case one wants to use it for something else.
3. If one has a state-of-the-art CPU with plenty of free horsepower, and no need to make the CPU further idle for something else, then this technology does not any claim for any significant performance improvement.

[DR –
1 – yes, to my understanding.
2 – yes and still make rendering faster
3 – yes, but when does one have state-of-the-art CPU and not want to do more! 😉

Thanks for your comments.]

Hi DR,
Wow are your fingers soar yet? It is great to see Adobe strive to new innovations. I can’t waite!!
Not to derail the subject but any reason why After Effects will not have this technology? I gave up on it due to its slow nature. Any good links to AE CS5?

[DR – Super, Adobe typically deploys new technology on one particular product first, validate its usefulness and then determine if it makes sense to move to another product. Premiere Pro was the easiest place to apply this, though certainly After Effects users would disagree! Moving MPE to After Effects does make a bunch of sense and you’re not the first person to bring it up. Time will tell. Thanks for your comments.]

Keep up the great work! Very excited that you chose to bring the technology to us a lot sooner rather than waiting for the rest of the players to catch up. I would rather be tied to a brand than do entirely without. Also, being such an alleged game changer, why are people worried about buying the absolutely least expensive graphics card they can find? If you are doing work that warrants high end software like this, is there really an issue with the $300 – $500 bump from a GTX 4xx to a Quadro 3800? I’m thinking 1/2 of a job will pay for that upgrade. So my question (finally)is: Will Elemental Accelerator be rendered obsolete as far as Permier Pro goes with MPE enebaled? Or am I missing the difference between the two?

[DR – Thanks for the comments. Some of your questions are difficult to answer as I cannot be completely forthright. A Quadro card will provide more performance depending on the work you do. I can’t comment on the Elemental Accelerator per se as I have not done comparisons. However, we will have GPU assisted encoding. That coupled with native 64 bit support has made me become very excited about the speed of our exporting.]

Hi DR,

I believe the question did not get addressed above, so let me ask it differently: If I have enormous CPU power available, and say it stays at 50% load without the new GFX capabilities. Now if the new GFX capability offloads the CPU to just 20% load for the same performance, it is not useful. Since this PC has a single purpose (Premiere Pro/After Effects), CPU offload is not useful. The question is, will adding the new GFX capability in addition to the enormous CPU power significantly reduce the rendering time? Thanks.

[DR – in the scenario you describe, the CPU would now be able to play back more video streams.]

The guy who was having a problem with “tearing” IS having a refresh-faster-than-sync problem:
the video-card changing what frame it’s displaying, partway through the scan, is what causes the “tearing”.

Now for the important+urgent item:
There are only going to be 5000 GTX 480/470 cards in the world. Ever.

The Quadro cards make NVidia 10x as much money, so they’ve decided that they will offer 5000, to prove they actually sold ’em retail ( & thus avoid false-advertising prosecution ), but after that, no more.

That means that it’s a fight between gamers & video-editors for ’em.

Therefore, we HAVE to know NOW, while it remains possible to order them, whether there is any point to it or not.

( if we wait, then most of us become incapable of affording the modern “pro” equivalent, and therefore, we become less-able-to-compete )

http://www.SemiAccurate.com/ for the gory details ( they had to disable 1/16 of the GPU to get the 480 *2-4* watts under the 300w limit, etc ).

Please get word from engineering now, or we are all being forced to GAMBLE ( on $350/$500 cards ), and that doesn’t make for good memories or friends ( not threatening anything: just pointing-out how the market will feel & that such things can have a looong effect on one’s customer-relations & loyalty… )

Cheers, & thanks in advance…

-Capt. Obvious

I own an Intel based (i960) system running Windows 7 64bit with 8GB ram and a Quadro 5800. I run the Adobe Master Suite CS4 and purchased Elemental Accelerator to help optimize GPU utilization.

From what I’ve gathered from the comments and articles out on the Mercury Engine, the main speed advantage I would see is in the use of the native 64bit code and tighter integration of the GPU offloading within the timeline and not just at render time. Is that a fair assessment?

[DR – right on.]

If I were to add an additional Quadro 5800 what advantages would I get from the Mercury Engine with a second 5800? Could I use a GTX285 as the second GPU and would it be beneficial?

[DR – The Mercury Playback Engine (I can’t wait until we shorten this to something like MPE!) does not currently benefit from a second card or any SLI connections.]

BTW, love the direction Adobe is going and am very excited to get my hands on the Engine! Keep up the great work with your labs and the inclusion of customers / advocates in your development process!

[DR – Thank you very much. We really care about delivering innovations that our customers can use!]

Fred von Graf

(Refer to the Tom’s Hardware forum topic http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/page-264258_31_50.html#t2084852 for the background info).

So I understand I can use the CUDA technology to gain excellent Premiere Pro performance without stressing the CPU. My question is, what if I have enormouse CPU power, dedicated to nothing but Premiere Pro work? E.g. i7-980X 6-Core/12-thread extreme edition CPU. Will I see significant Premiere Pro performance difference in that setup with the new CUDA GFX card over, say GTX 260 in that system.

Many Thanks!

(PS: If you have any suggestion to the hardware I am building specifically for Premiere Pro editing, please give your feedback at the Tom’s Hardware forum link. Thanks!)

[DR – if you have enormous CPU power, you’ll just be able to do that much more than without. The GPU helps offload CPU cycles by working on effects and filters. In other words, you can add a color correction filter to every stream without adding any load to your CPU.]

When you can do your test on an average computer that most users have and not on an 12 CPU this is more interesting. It is interesting now too, don’t misunderstand me, but 30-40% CPU load on 12 cpu means nearly full load on a quad-core. Developers and testers should work on low-end to average computers to be able to develop fast and good software. On a computer like yours everything is fast and you wont find bottlenecks until average users is starting to use it.

– Terje

[DR – I’m sure we’ll absolutely see this happening in the future. Unfortunately, I don’t have any systems that are more within your spec. ]

When will we get it?
I can’t stand the teasing much longer.

[DR – We’re constrained to talk about dates, being a publicly traded company has that affect on us. Sorry.]

I am currently looking at getting a mac pro, and this now has me wondering what are the relative performance differences between the mercury engine in win7 vs 10.6. If both machines have the same processors, same ram, and both have a gtx 285 will the end result be identical? I ask because every demo video I have seen is run in windows 7, yet i prefer os x if it makes little to no difference.

[DR – In theory, the performance should be very similar. I think it comes down to how the OS’s enable CUDA. Again, much of the Mercury Playback Engine’s performance comes from 64-bit native and the more efficient memory handling that have as a result. Bottom line if you want Mac, get a Mac and enjoy the MPE performance.]

I plan to build a new computer Intel(i9)32nm some time, when CS5 is released.
For graphic card,I initially was planning to buy FX 3800, which is still a little pricey for me, but this month, NVIDIA launches new GTX 480, GF100 chip based card,so which to buy?
Will mercury support this new GF100 card, obviously it should ?
And also, how much faster is in H.264 video encoding, let say quadro FX3800 compared to
GTX 285 …….20,30,50%?
Will be new GTX 480 faster then Quadro or somewhere in between those two?
I am also working a lot with after effect, is it worth paying that extra for Quadro or is it better to choose Geforce and spend the rest of the money on more RAM end better CPU ?
Thanks for any help.


[DR – Hi Thomas, These are currently questions which have no official answers. Ultimately, we will support newer cards, but until Adobe has published that information, it will be difficult to answer you. You’re waiting until the next version is announced, so that will hopefully give Adobe enough time to announce more cards and nvidia enough time to actually ship a GF100 based card. 😉 thanks for the comments.]

Hi, I work with RED footage and have CS4 with a GTX285 2gb card. When I output to an external monitor I always get what I call “slicing” or “tearing” which appears mostly on fast horizontal movements in the film. I’m pretty sure this is due to refresh happening during picture scan, rather than locked to the frame blanking interval. My questions are: do you know of this issue? and has it been addressed with Mercury/Nvidia/Cuda?

[DR – I’m not aware of the problem you describe but most of these problems boil down to an incompatibility between components which is most often resolved with a newer (or older) driver version from nvidia.]

1)”we use the GPU as part of the Mercury Playback Engine to give incredibly boosted performance when playing back the time line. Obviously, this has nothing to do with final output.”
2)”We can also leverage the GPU when encoding. This will enhance the encoding speed in certain instances as well.”
What does this mean? These are two completely contradictory phrases! …
We do not use the GPU – so it will not be affected ….
We sometimes use ….
I do not understand 🙁

[DR – #1 is referring to the preview display. It affects playback to ensure a smooth playback with effects. #2 does refer to encoding (not display) through Adobe Media Encoder. The GPU in this case does not affect the pixels themselves, it merely helps process and acclerate the encoding. I hope this helps clarify everything.]

Thank You for Your answers.

One quick question about MPE, please; I dunno if it was already raised: if I have 2 GTX 285 cards, the CUDA engine will split the work in two threads in order to speed up the encoding/decoding?I’m not thinking about the classic SLI, but about Mercury being able to take advantage of all the stream processors available from the two cards installed in my system.Or, If I have two cards supported but not the same, say one GTX 285 and one QFX 3800, will Mercury again, split the work in two or it will choose one card, based on more stream processors or bigger memory? Thanks in advance!Great job!

[DR – Hey there Climber. Simply put, Mercury will not take advantage of SLI or two non-SLI cards in a system. It’s certainly something that has been raised and I bet nvidia would love to see us get this done, but for the first version, there will be no multi-card-goodness in the Mercury Playback Engine. It’s in our minds though and that’s a great first step!]

Sorry for my english i´ve read alot but have a question, Quadro 3800 and Gtx260 both have 192 CUDA cores, if the tecnology used in CS5 is realy CUDA why dont i see a lot of geforce also supported?

Or is it the combination of CUDA and OpenGl That does the trick.


[DR – Adobe is very concerned about a consistent experience. As a result, Adobe is doing a lot of initial testing to certify which cards we officially support. In addition, there are differences between the cards such as memory, cooling, etc that can affect the performance. In the end, Adobe is preferring to be cautious and have a consistent experience rather than just let any card be tapped. I hope this helps you.]

I’m a student and just purchased A Mac with an ATI Radeon Card HD 4850. What does this mean for me. Am I unable to use the Adobe Mercury Playback Engine and the software associated with it or just blocked from some of it’s features. I’m new so please explain. Thank You.

[DR – Barra, As I stated in the previous comment, you can still use the Mercury Playback Engine, just not the GPU aspect of it. So, it does affect the performance overall, but you still get the other two aspects of MPE – namely 64bit and the memory addressing. If you find that you want that GPU aspect of MPE, you will need to purchase an nvidia graphics card in order to get that performance.]

But we can see, that CUDA encoding is much faster, than Sowtware only. And popup window is appearing with question about different video “with” and “without” cuda. It means that somewhere is a mistake in your posts.

[DR – Dmitrij, I’m not following you – perhaps you can elaborate. To reiterate – we use the GPU as part of the Mercury Playback Engine to give incredibly boosted performance when playing back the time line. Obviously, this has nothing to do with final output. We can also leverage the GPU when encoding. This will enhance the encoding speed in certain instances as well. I hope this clears up your confusion.]

ATI Users want have a chance to using mercury playback engine!
I’am a editor and i using cs4 master colection with ATI and i want to get CS5,but if not using ATI card im not interesting in using CS5 master colection.
Sorry for my bad english i’m braziliam

[DR – Hey Anderson, ATI users can utilize the Mercury Playback Engine! The idea of MPE is about 3 things: 64-bit native code, memory addressing and GPU. You will be able to address two of the three.

That said, I understand your frustration about our decision to use CUDA. However, it was either do CUDA and get something out sooner or do OpenCL and have you wait. Since nvidia has a vast majority of the professional market, we felt that going with CUDA was the right choice. In the future, we hope that we can support ATI as well as nvidia.]

[DR – I’ll head this one off at the beginning instead of the customary end and truncate your content.

In a nutshell, it’s easy to say it CUDA can translate to OpenCL, but doing it might be something entirely different. I wouldn’t know, but having said something similar to engineers and being shot down, I hesitate to encourage others to do the same…]

Porting CUDA to OpenCL

The data-parallel programming model in OpenCL shares some commonalities with NVIDIA’s C for CUDA programming model, making it relatively straightforward to convert programs from CUDA to OpenCL.

C for CUDA terminology OpenCL terminology



Thread block


Global memory

Global memory

Constant memory


Hello. Thank you for your blog. Please tell me, how much, will quality loss when GPU is used comparing to CPU only compressing. Is is the fact, that GPU compressing is much worse, than CPU only.

[DR – Hi Dmitrij. The GPU is for decoding the frames and doesn’t affect the quality of the output. So, in a nutshell, I think that you’ve got the best of both worlds. I hope this helps.]

What will be the performance difference between the FX 3800 and the GTX 285? I read someplace that the GTX 285 does 3 streams of 4K – will the FX 3800 do more?

[DR – The Quadro’s engineering allows us to push the card harder than the GeForce card. So theoretically, the answer could be yes. My caveat obviously is that just because you have a good GPU in your system, it won’t make everything magically go fast unless you have other components at the same level to make it truly rock. In other words, lots of memory, cores, etc. will be important to make everything work to its best potential.

I hope this helps answer your question.]

I work with RED file and have FX 3800 on HP board, I don’t know how to active or set mercury engine. can you help me about this?

[DR – Mohammad, the technology talked about in this post is about a future version of Premiere Pro. If you are using CS4 (currently the latest), you cannot access or use the Mercury Playback engine. I hope this helps.]

Thanks for the blog. Nice to keep customers informed. I’m also very concerned with Adobe tying up resources to optimizations for single-vendor hardware solutions (like Cuda).

I’ll be very happy to use and upgrade to products that offer performance benefits as long as they are non-propietary. Since I currently happen to be using ATI, I won’t change to Nvidia just for cuda and use the money to buy myself some more CPU power instead that can alsobe used with After Effects instead of only with Premiere, but I’ll be waiting impatiently for the day of OpenCL support in Mercury.


[DR – Julio, thanks for the comments. I don’t think that Adobe is asking anyone to change necessarily. We expect the 64-bit to greatly increase performance independent of GPU or anything else.

As you probably know, the decision to go to CUDA went back a long time and only in November of 2009 was OpenCL (which would include ATI) even ratified. So, in order to give this additional performance to the customer, a decision had to be made. We’ve opted to deliver on a cross platform architecture that is available now rather than push back deliverables years by adopting a technology that hasn’t existed until very recently.

I hope this provides some clarity for you and others. Thanks again.]

Things get even better!
Look at this cool demo of real world use cases for Mercury Playback Engine

[DR – Thanks Kevan. Nice work!]

“I will point out that there has been no mention of the Mercury Playback engine will be a part of the next version of Premiere Pro.” >>I’m not sure I understand… will mercury playback engine an option ? will adobe charge extra for it ??

[DR – In certain places I’m being intentionally coy because I am not allowed to speak to certain information. This is one of them. Wish I could say more, but I can’t.]

Does this mean that I will no longer need my Matrox RT.X2 accelerator card for real time rendering of common effects after upgrading to Premiere CS5?

Also, will CS5 also enable realtime encoding of H.264 files? I was wondering if I’d still need my CompressHD card.

What about 3rd party plugins? Will the Red Giant plugins that I currently use with CS4 work with CS5?


[DR – Mike, that really depends on what your needs are. There are still reasons to have video i/o cards. For example, getting an NTSC or PAL output would be one. The performance of effects will be lessened with the Mercury playback engine but even still, 3rd party companies like Matrox will offer certain effects that we do not recreate.

I will point out that there has been no mention of the Mercury Playback engine will be a part of the next version of Premiere Pro.

As for H.264 encoding, there is acceleration with the Mercury Playback engine as well as accelerated playback.

3rd party plugins will most likely have to be updated in some fashion in order to be compatible for the next version of Premiere Pro or After Effects. Some companies provide the compatibility free of charge, whereas others sometimes charge for the upgrade. You should check with those companies to find out what their plans will be when the time is right.

Thanks for your comments.]

Would there be any playback or rendering benefits to using a 2 gig version of the gtx 285 over the 1 gig ?

[DR – we’ve had this discussion and in general, I think the answer is ‘kind of’. More memory does offer some potential benefits, but I don’t think we’ve seen an quantifiable tests yet. If you’re in the market and you have the extra cash, I think that getting a 2GB version cannot hurt you.]

I’ve read through nearly every comment, but am still confused. (I’m not terribly knowledgeable in the tech issues of GPU internals, timing, busses, etc; apologies if these are dumb questions).
1) at one point, the Quadro FX 3800 is said to be a candidate to gain the benefits of the Merc engine. At another point, it seems “not likely” Where does that stand? Will only the 4800 and higher cards you mention see the full benefits?

2) Looking at photos of the 4800, it shows these output connections:
1 S-video, 1 DVI-I Dual link, and 2 DisplayPorts. Does this mean that such a high-priced card only handles dual monitors through Display Port? (As I understand it, few such monitors are on the market, and many manufacturers are resisting their manufacture. Why is such a high-end card so closely tied to an unpopular display method?
While the Merc/CUDA marriage may show impressive results, the restrictions and hardware req’s seem out of reach of many.
I had hopes of getting a new computer this year and upgrading from CS2 to CS5. Now I’m concerned that’s not likely to happen due to the higher hardware req’s.

[DR – Thanks for your comments and for your time reading the blog. The FX 3800 has in fact recently been tested and qualified.

Yes, dual monitor happens through a display port. However, I have some Quadro FX 4800 cards and they come with a DIsplayPort>DVI adapter so nobody will have any trouble doing dual monitor with a card like that.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.]

I’m a student and just purchased A Mac with an ATI Radeon Card HD 4850. What does this mean for me. Am I unable to use the Adobe Mercury Playback Engine and the software associated with it or just blocked from some of it’s features. I’m new so please explain. Thank You.

[DR – The Mercury Playback Engine is a combination of technologies including 64-bit native code and some CUDA technology as well. If you have an ATI card, you will not be able to use the CUDA rendering engine as shown in the video, but you will still benefit from the 64-bit native code as that by itself has proven to give a large performance gain in our tests thus far.

So, you would benefit from The MPE, just not through the ATI GPU card at present. Once this is out, you can purchase an nvidia card to replace the ATI to get the additional benefits. I hope this helps.]

I understand that Adobe can’t test every single variant of the Geforce/Quadro lines of video cards to verify that they work well with Mercury. I think attempting to do that would probably fit some definitions of insanity.

For those cards that haven’t made it onto the small list of tested and supported cards, will there be a hardware check within the software that will forcibly disable Mercury for an unsupported card, or will we be able to try it out and see if it works? I’m currently running a combo of a GTX 260 and a 9400 GT (for 4-monitor, bad-eyesight goodness), and would, ideally, like to keep my current hardware and see if it works with Mercury when CS5 is released, understanding that there might be a bug or two with my unsupported card.

Otherwise, I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on sales to see if I can pick up a GTX 285 at a nice price point. The geek in me prefers this option, but has been battling with my frugal self for decades, so it understands that it doesn’t always get to win.

No matter what, I’m seriously looking forward to being able to work with multiple layers of AVCHD without any stuttering. I’ve been making all of my Avid friends jealous as I send out links to demos of Mercury. 🙂

Wiil CS5 have xml out?, Will color correction and other soft efx be 32 bit float point since PPro is now 64 bit or will we still rely on external color correctors

[DR – I’m sorry but we can’t and won’t talk about future versions. Thanks for your comment though.]

This is awesome, certainly.
But do we really need Cuda engine to do such things ?
I own a Quadro Fx 2500M and a 3500 one. I guess they are powerful enough to do realtime avchd decoding and playback on 3 or 4 video layers with effects like blur or 3 way color corrector applied to them.
Why do we all have to wait for CS5, buy a Cuda compatible Nvidia card or any other stuff ?

VLC is a free software and Quicktime player too. Just take a look at how easy they can playback those huge Avchd h264 files from Canon 5D : even with more than one instance of the player is opened, playback remains absolutely smooth. And there is no talk about Cuda nowhere here.

DirectX hardware acceleration is something wich could be used to improve everything in CS4 drastically. Premiere strongly use CPU and don’t mind I have a Quadro FX 2500M on my laptop or a $10 one.

Having the Premiere Pro CS4 SDK on one hand, the Nvidia driver API and DirectX documentation on the other, do you guys think we could develop something like a plugin to redirect all intensive CPU work to the GPU ?


[DR – We have chosen CUDA because it’s a suitable technology that is cross platform and will provide a long term path for GPU enablement. Before CUDA, there was no standard library of instructions to do such things without going proprietary. The things you mention above do not fit all of these requirements. I’ll also reiterate that CUDA is not necessarily the ‘secret sauce’ as we have seen an extraordinary performance boost by moving to 64-bit native.]

will it support a Quadro FX 3800

[DR – Not likely.]

What about After Effects? Anything to speed it up by using the GPU? I prefer to use AE (CS4) as I can do a lot more a lot easier but its rather slow on something like the HP Z800.

Also, any idea when CS5 and MPE will be released?

[DR – Joseph, thanks for the comment. No, there will be no GPU acceleration for After Effects in the immediate future, though this is clearly something that we’re always thinking about.

As for when CS5 is, I have to be coy and defer an answer… sigh. ;-)]

Argh. Please tell me you will support the GTX 260 based bords (216 cores). I just bought one a week ago for an article I’m writing.

If the GTX285 is supported will the GTX295 be? I’m about to pull the trigger and assume it supports the same technology and both will provide the goods (doubling of the “cuda cores” from the 285 to 295).

Thank you.

[DR – other than the ones I’ve mentioned, we are not commenting on any additional cards that may or may not be supported. I honestly don’t know, but as I’ve intimated elsewhere, if you’re sure you want it to work, then purchase one of the cards I’ve mentioned.]

Huh? CS4 users can use the Nvidia 3800 card with Elemental Accelerator. So it sounds like they’ll continue to port their application to new versions if Adobe will be limiting access to a scant few GPUs.

[DR – this is true. What the Mercury Engine does is accelerate encoding AND playback in a giant way. So while Adobe has been focused on GPu for a few versions now, this is a real break through.]

Will a machine with a GeForce GTX 285 using PCI Express v 1.0 (and not the newer v 2.0) run fine with the Mercury Playback Engine ?

[DR – the answer I got back from engineering is that they will have to run some tests. It ultimately all comes down to bandwidth. If the 1.0 bus can support the throughput, I don’t think you’ll have any issues. If they report back to me their findings, I’ll try to post them.]

What a great news!
i`ve been thinking about when Adobe will notice GPU power… and BAM! here it comes. Love you, just love you!
OpenCL support will be HUGE thing to show that Adobe loves all its users too 😉
Also, i hope that difference between GeForce and Quadro won`t be so big, coz I heard rumors that they are practically identical (size of RAM is only difference) but some functions are locked.
(sorry for my English)

[DR – Patch, I’m with you, very excited about what this could mean for editing.]

OK, so my math is rusty, but what’s wrong with this picture?

You say “two cards that I’ve been told will be supported are the GeForce GTX 285, the Quadro FX 4800, 5800 and the Quadro CX” and then list four cards. Is there something missing from the equation of 2=4?

1) 285
2) 4800
3) 5800
4) CX

I’ll assume from your post the 4800 (so mac people can play) and 285 are in (why the 295 isn’t I can’t understand) but will the 5800 and CX going to be included too? Not that I care about $4,000 video cards, but….

[DR – all right, so you got me. 😉 There are four cards.]

Is there any way for people to get on the beta/testing for this? I’m using Premiere Pro on a dual core Mac Pro with a Nvidia GTX285 and would love to test this out, especially to see how it handles h264 footage straight from my 5DmkII.

[DR – Hi Jim. Thanks for your interest. if you’re interested in beta testing, you can go to the link here and apply. http://www.adobe.com/products/tryadobe/betatesting.html If you get accepted, here’s a hint: Actually beta test. Too many people want to see new features (it’s natural), but don’t want to make the product better by logging bugs. Good luck to all who might apply!]

What about Nvidia’s next-gen GPUs, they’ll be fully supported right?


[DR – Adobe is very excited about Fermi and I’m positive that we’ll continue to support newer cards. What I don’t know now is how many. My hunch (read – I don’t know) is that not all Fermi cards will be supported (at least initially) in order to provide a thoroughly tested and consistent experience. As soon as I have more information, I’ll pass it on.]

Will mainstream cards like the GeForce GT 240 be supported also?


It has 96 stream processors, CUDA Compute 1.2(GTX 285 is 1.3 because it supports double precision). It won’t be as fast as the GTX 285, but for most people as long as it’s faster than the CPU it will be an improvement.

[DR – The cards I mentioned are the only ones I know about. If you want to play it safe, I would not purchase anything other than the ones I’ve mentioned.]

While I understand that OpenCL is not ready for primetime yet. My concern is that by starting to support CUDA only, it will be more diffcult for Adobe to switch to switch to OpenCL later. How portable is the CUDA code? What incentive will Adobe have 2 years from now to add OpenCL support? These questions really bother me because I know that in the corporate world it’s all about money and ROI and I don’t see Adobe going back to OpenCL unless it’s going to be a trivial thing to port the existing CUDA code to OpenCL.

[DR – Without getting into too much detail, I believe that we are very serious about moving to OpenCL at some point. If OpenCL had been ready at the time, the choice would have been clear to be more ‘open’ – which is always are strategy.

My understanding is that OpenCL is a consortium of hardware and software vendors including nvidia. I understand that a lot of CUDA code has made it into OpenCL, so that bodes well.

I hope this answers your questions – thanks for your comments.]

There’s a lot of laptops with good Quadro cards around, like the mobile workstations from Dell, HP, Lenovo etc. I really don’t get the “not on laptops” statement.

[DR – True. I’ve got a mobile Quadro 3700 in a HP laptop. Nevertheless, that seems to be the way it’s going to shake out.]

GPGPU is the way to go.
While I understand why Adobe went CUDA on it’s products I’m a bit concerned about the nvidia cards they will be support.
Will the diference between the cards be only in the performance or will come features be cut from the mainstream cards?

[DR – Well, the 285GTX is a mainstream card that costs ~$300 street and it does a lot of stuff. There won’t be any features cut from the cards – we won’t throttle anything back, but we will work to keep the experience consistent and so we will limit the cards we support…At least initially.]

Will this be used to super charge rendering times as well, or just playback in the nle?

[DR – Jason, I’ve got an update for you. The Mercury Playback engine will accelerate rendering times as well as boost the playback abilities of the Premiere Pro .]

Very nice handling of the ATI/OpenCL debate. I feel somewhat appeased.

I plan to build a 64bit computer some time in 2010, when CS5 is released and Win7 64bit is at SP1, so will watch for further announcements… and to see if this is included in CS5

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