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Speeding Premiere Pro CS4's H.264 Encoding with NVIDIA QuadroFX and Elemental Accelerator

Offloading video encoding tasks to the host GPU By John Virata

High definition video editing and HD video encoding are two of the hardware intensive tasks that can be done with a computer. It takes a lot of power to complete these types of jobs, oftentimes rendering your computer limited in functionality while it encodes video. NVIDIA's Quadro line of graphics cards can help to speed up H.264/AVC encoding in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 with an assist from Elemental Technologies' Elemental Accelerator.

The combo offloads HD video encoding from the host system's CPU to the Quadro's CUDA parallel processors, giving the Quadro FX graphics cards an added encoding boost. The plug-in works with NVIDIA's family of Quadro FX graphics cards (QuadroFX 1800, QuadroFX 3800, QuadroFX 4800 (Windows and Mac), QuadroFX 5800, and Quadro FX 2700M). While the solution currently only works with a limited number of encoding presets, H.264/AVC and MPEG-2 specifically, the combo does accelerate the encoding process by offloading the task to the Quadro's GPUs. And this is a big positive especially for those who are encoding large jobs on a daily basis.

Testing
To test the NVIDIA Quadro/Elemental Accelerator 2.1 combo, a Quadro 1800 was installed in an HP Z400 workstation, and a Quadro 4800 was installed in a Lenovo D20 ThinkStation workstation. The results are by no means competitive, but rather are a showcase of what each card with the plug-in outputs. The test clip comprised a single, 21 second 1920x1080 .mts video file with two simple dissolves on the Premiere Pro CS4 timeline. Longer files were not tested.

HP Z400 with Intel XEON W3550 3.06GHz, 6GB RAM, Windows Vista 64-bitQuadro 1800  Time to encode in seconds 
H.264 HDTV 1080p 23.97 high quality   64
Elemental H.264 HDTV 1080p 23.97 high quality   48
H.264 preset HDTV 720p 23.976 High Quality   44
Elemental HDTV 720p 23.976 High Quality 27
H.264 Blu Ray 1440x1080i 25 high quality 60
Elemental H.264 Blu Ray 1440x1080i 25 high quality 48
MPEG 2 1440x1080i 25 high quality 40
Elemental MPEG 2 1440x1080i 25 high quality  29
MPEG-2 DVD Widescreen high quality  34
Elemental MPEG-2 DVD High Quality  13

MPEG-2 Blu Ray 1440 x 1080i

Elemental MPEG-2 Blu Ray 1440 x 1080i

40

29





Lenovo Intel XEON E5540 2.53GHz, 12GB RAM Windows 7 64-bit
Quadro 4800
 Time to encode in seconds 
 H.264 format Preset: HDTV 1080p 23.97 high quality 43
Elemental H.264 HDTV 1080p 23.97 high quality 33
H.264 HDTV 720p 23.976 High Quality 45
Elemental H.264 HDTV 720p 23.976 High Quality 16
H.264 Blu Ray 1440x1080i 25 high quality 51
Elemental H.264 blu ray 1440x1080i 25 high quality 25
MPEG 2 1440x1080i 25 high quality 46
Elemental MPEG 2 1440x1080i 25 high quality 18
MPEG 2 DVD NTSC High Quality 26
Elemental MPEG-2 DVD High Quality 13
MPEG-2 Blu Ray 1440 x 1080i   46 
 
Elemental MPEG-2 Blu Ray 1440 x 1080i 18

With the Quadro 4800, performance is significantly faster than that of the Quadro 1800, but the pricing on the Quadro 4800, at around $1500 is nearly three times the price of the Quadro FX 1800 ($450). If your time is money, it is obvious that you will benefit greatly from the Quadro FX 4800 and a system that supports it. If slightly slower times are sufficient, but you still want the accelerated encoding that the Elemental Accelerator plug-in offers in concert with the Quadro FX 1800, then the 1800 can provide faster than "stock" times of the host PC. The Elemental Accelerator is always in a constant state of revision, and a 2.2 version is also available at press time. If you are doing a lot of H.264/AVC and MPEG-2 encoding jobs, one of these solutions, depending on budget, can offer significant benefits in time savings.


QuadroFX 1800 specs

GPU Specs: CUDA Cores 64

GPU Memory Specs:
Memory Size Total 768  MB GDDR3
Memory Interface 192-bit 
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 38.4 

Display Support:
Dual Link DVI-I 1
DisplayPort 2
# of Digital Outputs 3
( 2 out of 3 active at a time ) 
# of Analog Outputs 1
Maximum Display Resolution Digital @ 60Hz 2560x1600

Feature Support:
Shader Model 4.0 
OpenGL 3.0
Microsoft DirectX 10
NVIDIA CUDA Architecture 
NVIEW Display Management Software 
FSAA (maximum) 32x

Thermal and Power Specs:
EnergyStar Enabling Yes
Maximum Power Consumption 59 W

QuadroFX 4800 Specs
GPU Specs: CUDA Cores 192

GPU Memory Specs:
Memory Size Total 1.5  GB 
Memory Interface 384-bit 
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 76.8 

Display Support:
Dual Link DVI-I 1
DisplayPort 2
# of Digital Outputs 3 (2 out of 3 active at a time)
# of Analog Outputs 1
Stereo (3-pin Mini-DIN) 1
Maximum Display Resolution Digital @ 60Hz 2560x1600

Feature Support:
Shader Model 4.0 
OpenGL 3.1
Microsoft DirectX 10
3D Vision 
NVIDIA SLI Multi OS Support 
NVIDIA CUDA Architecture 
SDI Option 
SLI Frame Rendering Support 
Genlock/Framelock 
FSAA (maximum) 32x
Number of Slots 2

Thermal and Power Specs:
EnergyStar Enabling Yes
Maximum Power Consumption 150W 

www.nvidia.com
http://www.elementaltechnologies.com/

 


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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
Related Keywords:h.264 encoding, video editing workflow, elemental accelerator results, GPU encoding

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