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Hardware choices

Jul 3, 2010 12:18 AM

Please forgive me for asking what I'm sure I can ascertain from reading through the forums here. I figure that in a few minutes you can save me many hours of reading. Please. I appreciate it very much.

 

I'm doing my own video production for business presentations. I have a "guru" guiding me on the software aspects, who is very good. (Adobe beta tester.)

 

I'm now upgrading my system and want to make wise choices on what to spend money on, and what not to, given my current budget limitations.

 

The main issue, of course, is the long times it takes for processing the video. Forgive me that I'm not up on the lingo. Examples of the tasks that take lots of time waiting for the machine, as you of course already know, include:

 

- exporting from Premiere to AVI
- processing AVI files in Virtual Dub (noise reduction, deinterlacing)
- converting AVI files to FLV
- outputting from Encore to DVD or an image
- and so on...

 

Until now, I've been running CS3 on an HP xw8600 machine with five drives: one drive for OS/apps, one for swap, and three in a RAID 5 array for data.

 

I've just had HP send me a new (refurb) machine because that one is limping (RAID 5 is degraded and they can't fix it).

 

They sent me a z400 and fixed me up with the same five-drive setup I had before (though we're waiting on the controller card, HP-branded LSI 8888-ELP, and until it arrives I'll be using two drives -- one for OS/apps and one for data).

 

The computer's specs are: Xeon Quad W3250 2.67 GHz (8-thread), 8GB DDR3 RAM. The hard drives are all SATA 7200 RPM (Seagate Barracuda). The existing video card is NVIDIA Quadro FX 580.

 

Unless anyone here recommends I don't bother reconstructing the five-drive setup with three of them in a RAID-5 array, it will be done shortly.

 

I will be going to Windows 7 and to CS5.

 

I don't do anything fancy with my video. Later we may get into a little 3D stuff and HD but for now it's basic, simple video: talking heads captured from a digital video camera, with simple graphics such as images and bulleted lists... with basic dip-to-black transitions. It may get a little more elaborate, but not a lot.

 

For me with my responsibilities right now, "time is money" is an understatement. The current budget has serious constraints, but $1,000 to $2,000 or so to substantially reduce processing time is justifiable -- if it really will save significant time.

 

My questions are on the other hardware choices.

 

I plan to invest in a "CS5-approved" Cuda-enabled video card "if" you think it's worth it for me. It seems to me to be worth the investment "if" it will significantly reduce the time I spend waiting for the machine to process the kinds of tasks listed above. I'm a little confused because I thought it would do that but one post I saw in a forum here said "It will speed up rendering, but the CPU still has to do all the video transcoding." I thought those tasks listed above entail video transcoding, and I thought CS5 with one of the CS5-approved Cuda-enabled cards is for exactly that -- dramatically reducing the time those kinds of tasks take to process. Please help me understand if this is the case or not so I can determine if a new Cuda card is worth it.

 

My questions are, essentially, which if any of these are "most" worth investing in, if at all:

 

- faster hard drive for OS/apps (it's the only one of the drives I think I'd want to spend more money on at this time; is a 1500 RPM drive worth it?)

 

- more memory (is 16 GB RAM going to do better than the 8 GB RAM that's in there now?)

 

- a CS5-approved Cuda-enabled card (from my reading, this seems clearly worth it, but I'm asking here for confirmation; and if so, may ask which model seems most worthwhile for my needs?)

 

Thanks!

 
Replies 1 2 Previous Next
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 3, 2010 2:15 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb
    faster hard drive for OS/apps (it's the only one of the drives I think I'd want to spend more money on at this time; is a 1500 RPM drive worth it?)

     

    1500 must be a typo. The slowest disks are 4200 and for an editing machine 7200 or faster is required. A modern day Spinpoint F3 is enough.

     

    more memory (is 16 GB RAM going to do better than the 8 GB RAM that's in there now?)

     

    That will benefit your perofrmance, but if it means throwing away your existing 8 GB memory, it may be expensive.

     

    A CS5-approved Cuda-enabled card (from my reading, this seems clearly worth it...)

     

    A CUDA card like the GTX-470, which currently is the most economical choice, makes a huge difference when rendering. It makes no difference at all when encoding or while using AE or EN, since only PR uses MPE.

     

    Adobe Forums: Generic Guideline for Disk Setup

     
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    Jul 3, 2010 4:31 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb
    1. Yes, I meant to say 15000 RPM. I just now looked at the Spinpoint F3. I assume a Seagate Barracuda 500 GB 7200 RPM is equal or better, yes?

     

    15K disks are SCSI only. If you have SCSI on your mobo, it is very fast but expensive per GB. Seagate is not a favorite of mine and in comparison, benchmark tests have shown that the F3 is faster, quieter and cooler, apart from being more attractively priced. I know that my thinking about Seagate is heavily biased by their 7200.11 series that resulted for me in a failure rate of more than 70%.

     

    2. I assume you're referring to available memory slots. I have four, and all four are currently in use. Meaning... yeah, I'd have to throw it away to double it. Is there any way to ballpark the performance improvement? (I doubt it will be a lot. Maybe I should save the money towards an 8-core machine in the near future, and/or SSDs?

     

    Correct. While testing for PPBM CS5, Bill and I have found the performance increase of 6 GB versus 12 GB to be around 30+ % on MPEG2-DVD encoding. On other tasks the performance gains were much lower.

     

    3. The GTX-470 looks very interesting. DirectX 11, DDR5, 1.2GB RAM... That's all higher than the two other cards I looked at that are more expensive: GTX-285 and FX-3800. I didn't see the GTX-470 on the original Pr CS5 "approved" list for MPE/Cuda support, and I did a Google and Adobe site search for an updated list but didn't find one.

     

    No official news has been released yet, but rumor has it that the 470 will be supported with the next DOT release. Anyway it appears to work quite well for people using the 'hack'.

     

    Maybe I should accept the facts that the MPE/Cuda aspect won't in and of itself change the world for me, yet I can probably expect a "huge" overall performance increase when I consider that I'm also going to a faster processor (8-thread from 4-thread) and memory (DDR3 from DDR2), to Windows 7 from XP, and to CS5 from CS3.

     

    Have a look here to see what CS5 and MPE can do: PPBM4 Benchmark

     

    If you look at the Top 20 Performers chart, you can see that even my not-too-shabby middle of the road system gained hugely from the move from CS4 to CS5 and adding a CUDA card. From rank 19 to rank 1 with those changes.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 3, 2010 6:17 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    You had a good look!. Actually, AVI export is a problem with CS5 and Adobe is aware of that problem and working on a fix.

     

    In my case the results dropped from 1.4 with CS4 to 2.9 with CS5 on the same hardware, and dropped even further to 5.4 with a GTX-480 and MPE on. This strange behavior has been replicated by others, including Adobe. Now we have to wait for the solution.

     
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    Jul 3, 2010 11:18 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    In addition to my previous post, a one hour AVI time line takes around 70 seconds to export to AVI and write a 13 GB file. If Adobe fixes the bug, one can expect this to take around 18 seconds, at least on my system. That would not be a major bottleneck, I think.

     
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    Jul 3, 2010 1:57 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    I would not guess at your performance increase, but you will be hugely surprised by the gain with MPEG2-DVD encoding.

     

    A highly complex timeline with up to 4 video tracks, consisting of AVCHD, XDCAM-EX, HDV and DV material, both interlaced and progressive, NTSC and PAL with lots of transitions and effects, a number of those with keyframed bezier curves, encodes to MPEG2-DVD around two times faster than real time.

     
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    Jul 4, 2010 3:12 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    I did not get bit by the Seagate bug like Harm did and I have 12 of the post 7200.11 disaster 7200.12 drives on my systems.  I am very satisfactorily running 8 in RAID 0 on my current PPBM5 i7-980X developmental system.

     
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    Jul 5, 2010 12:39 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    The price difference is so small that I would personally opt for the 1 TB model. It is slightly faster because of the cache.

     
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    Jul 5, 2010 9:53 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Jay,

     

    The FX3800 is EOL, overpriced and underpowered in comparison to the Fermi cards, that are both hackable and according to rumors the 470 may be supported in the 5.02 dot release. The most bang-for-the-buck card is the 470.

     
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    Jul 6, 2010 9:55 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Jay,

     

    Sorry for not answering sooner, but I gave priority to watching the soccer game.

     

    You are right, my suggestion is to use on-board sound. No sense in buying an extra card when you alreavy have perfectlly good sound on the mobo and crowding your system internally and creating more heat inside the case.

     
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    Jul 8, 2010 3:18 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Both are good brands. EVGA somewhat more directed to overclocking models and PNY gained their reputation as being the only ones to sell Quadro cards under their name, even though they are manufactured by nVidia (the Quadros).

     
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    Jul 13, 2010 3:25 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Jay,

     

    One alternative, that will definitely not gain you a design award, is this.

     

    Get a separate modular PSU of around 500 W that sports both a 6 pin and an 8 pin PCI Express connector. Use that externally and only use these 6 and 8 pin cables to power the GTX-470.You may have to fiddle a bit to get these cables into the case, but that will work without modifying your Z400. You can also use one 12 V cable for some hard drives or fans. That leaves your mobo connectors as they are.

     

    Just for fun I tried to configure a pretty loaded Z400 to see if they would increase the PSU to a more powerful model, but no, only the price increased to around $ 10 K. I tried the same with a Z800 and there the PSU was upped to 1100 W and the price over $ 21 K. Both still left a lot to be desired, but in HP country that is probably to be expected for these measly prices.

     
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    Jul 13, 2010 3:50 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    AFAIK there is not much intelligence in the PSU. There is on the mobo. I think, but I may be wrong, that if the video card has power and you turn on the Z400, the logic on the mobo will determine that the video card works and will go throught the POST in regular fashion. I had a problem with a PCI Express cable recently and in testing it, we were able to use two PSU's at the same time to isolate this problem.

     

    Your best bet may be to either bring your Z400 to a shop, open it up and try it. It if works, great.

     

    The alternative is to use a 'loaner' PSU to try it at home and if it works, buy a modular one. I stress the modular, because only that way can you limit a cable mess under your desk.

     
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    Jul 14, 2010 12:28 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Glad to know it worked. Sometimes it helps to get confirmation that your original idea can work. Happy editing.

     
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    Jul 14, 2010 9:20 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb
     
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    Jul 14, 2010 9:49 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Jay,

     

    John's answer is correct. But there is a rather simpler way.

     

    Navigate to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and open the file "cuda_supported_cards.txt" with Notepad.

     

    Enter a new line containing "GeForce GTX 470"  exactly like that without the quotes and save the file.

     

    Open PR, go to Project/Project Settings/General and set Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration.

     
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    Sep 2, 2010 8:44 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Just downloaded the 5.02 update. Was disappointed to see that the only the GTX 470 was listed.

     

    Pleased though to see that going thru the above adjustments does enable the GTX 480 (what I'm using), as it did in 5.01.

     

    Not sure why it isn't "formally" added. Basically the same hardware.  Guess it will get added eventually.

     
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    Sep 3, 2010 8:12 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    When I updated from 5.01 to 5.02, it removed the text file based hack for my GTX 480. You will likely find, since the 470 is now "official" that it should just work.  I had to put the 480 back in the  file to re-enable it after the update.

     

    As an aside, the line added for the 470 in 5.02 is exactly the same as what you'd previously done yourself.

     

    The only difference is the 470 has now been tested and officially approved.

     

    Would be nice if there was a test "suite" or benchmark that could be downloaded so we could self-test our (officially unsupported) CUDA cards.

     

    Mike

     
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