ADOBE Premiere CS5 with Mercury Engine – What does it take?

So we all saw the Mercury Engine sneak preview, and we all saw Dennis and Dave performing RED RAW footage realtime editing on that timeline. That was done on a HP Z800 with dual W5590’s, 24 Gb memory and a nVidia Quadro 4800 card. The question is, does it realy take such a beas to do the same?

The four crucial developments are the i7-980X, aka Gulftown hexacore, CS5-64 and MPE or Cuda, and Tesla. Let’s put them in perspective.

1. i7-980X @ 3.33 GHz hexacore will lead to a 40-50% performance increase over the i7 at the same speed. Expected in Q1 2010.

2. CS5-64. Further details unknown at this moment.

3. CUDA cards are widely available, presumed entry level for MPE is GTX-285.

4. TESLA C-2050 GPU assisted processor with 3 GB memory expected in Q2 and the C-2070 6 GB expected in Q3 2010.

The first question is of course memory. What is needed? Is 12 GB enough? Will you benefit from 24 GB or even more?

Let’s be realistic, most motherboards only have 6 memory slots and with the extravagant pricing of 4 GB memory modules, most of us will be limited to 12 GB max. unless the price for 4 GB sticks comes down hard in the coming months. I do not expect that to happen.

However, the memory bottleneck is nicely avoided by using 2 GB or larger video cards with CUDA, and adding a TESLA 3 or 6 GB card or even multiple TESLA cards make it even nicer. Just adding a single TESLA card effectively improves your memory to 12 + 2 + 6 = 20 GB. Adding a second TESLA card increases that to 20 + 6 = 26 GB.

The consequence is that your motherboard requires at least three PCIe gen.2 16x slots to be efficient, like the Asus P6T WS Supercomputer.

My conclusion is that the effective 12 GB barrier is not a real barrier if you can add one or more TESLA cards, assuming your motherboard supports it.

On the hexacore i7-980X, it may be worthwhile if the budget is available, but a 4-5 fold price increase over an overclocked i7-920 makes it a hard sell to the Finance Director (your wife).

What does this mean in terms of when CS5 will be introduced? The two most likely moments in the year are the NAB and the IBC but maybe because of the dependency on nVidia with their TESLA cards in combination with MPE, one should not be surprised if it will happen at the IBC 2010. Adobe may decide to wait for TESLA before announcing CS5.

This here is a commend straight from the horses mouth

Future versions of Premiere Pro and After Effects will indeed be 64 bit only and we’re working hard to make sure that if you add more RAM we can use it effectively. You can already load 32GB or more in high end Macs and HP workstations for example.

But, in the lab we also test extensively on laptops ….. well under the 12GB number being thrown about here. My Mac laptop has 8GB, but I don’t need all of that for a lot of what I’m playing with.

What will work optimally depends a lot on what you want to do ….. a couple of layers of editing in HDV, no dynamic link to AE and you get one kind of spec —- many layers of RED 4K, dynamic link to AE, photoshop and illustrator running ….. and you get a very different profile.

Rest assured though — we’re working hard to make sure that simple things run well on affordable systems — but that at the same time, if you happen to be working on higher end projects with a beefy system you get a whole new level of performance.

The Mercury Playback Engine in the labs right now is being tested most with nVidia GTX 285, Quadro 3800, Quadro 4800. That should give you a good idea of the kind of cards that will give you a game changing experience in the future.

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