Adobe Premiere Pro and Multiple GPUs

PVC by Chris & Trish Meyer

You can get a significant speed boost using a variety of hardware solutions

Apple’s inclusion of dual GPUs in every model of their new Mac Pro has caused a bit of a stir (and confusion) among video editors wondering if their NLE of choice can take advantage of them. Applications don’t automatically detect and use multiple GPUs; the drivers must support them, and the software must be written to exploit them. It’s expected that Apple’s own Final Cut Pro can; many seem to assume that Adobe’s Premiere Pro can’t – but that’s not the case.

While working with Adobe to update their Hardware Performance White Paper (which contains tips for non-geeks to optimize their hardware based on the different needs of Adobe’s video software), we learned that not only can Premiere Pro take advantage of both GPUs in the new Mac Pro, you can also install multiple GPUs in an older generation Mac Pro as well as Windows workstations to get similar or even greater performance gains. We’d like to share that information with you here, hopefully boiling the raw numbers down to a few takeaways for you to consider when choosing or configuring a system.

What’s Accelerated

The current version of Adobe Premiere Pro CC can indeed take advantage of multiple compatible GPUs inside the same computer – new or old Mac Pro, or a Windows box like the HP Zx2x series – using either the OpenCL standard or NVIDIA’s own CUDA language. Premiere Pro CC can employ both of these GPUs for rendering and exporting. During real-time playback, only one GPU is used; Adobe has found that in this time-critical application, the overhead required to swap data between multiple GPUs more than cancelled out any speed gains. Note that Premiere Pro can also be set up to use both GPUs, one GPU, or only the CPU. Encoding and decoding different video formats currently runs on the CPU (although the prep for encoding does use the GPU with OpenCL when rendering out to final). read more...

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