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Hi Roger, I dont know why you are having such problems with 1920x1080... I have used clips from a number of 1920x1080 AVCHD sources (SR10 same as SR12 but smaller hard drive, HF100)on my Quad Core and get smooth playback without rendering. Compared to 1440x1080 there is more processor usage but not a huge reduction in performance. Are you using the 1920x1080 project presets?
I have used all project settings, and I have a sample clip from an SR10 as well and it also is very slow. It has to render it on playback, there is always a red line above the clips in the timeline since it doesn't handle AVCHD natively. I'm confused by your statement that you can load AVCHD files into PE7 and have it not render them, it renders all AVCHD clips regardless of project setting or resolution of the clip, unlike HDV which it can handle natively. I always see a red line above all my AVCHD clips in the timeline regardless of project settings or that clips resolution.
Basically I do sometimes get smooth editing with 1920 clips but it seems almost random. If all 4 cores are utilized it plays back in the project smoothly, if not its a slide show.  I found a way that appears to get all 4 cores in on timeline/sceneline rendering. If I bring up the windows task manager while its playing back the project, the 2 cores that were idle seem to kick in right away. I have no idea why they don't just kick in regardless, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I
Perhaps some conflict with a codec pack is biting me? I'm tempted to get an old hard drive out, do a clean install on it, and see if it gets rid of the problem. It just doesn't want to use all 4 cores reliably unless I do the task manager thing.
I see the red line but I do not need to render the clip to play bsck smoothly while editing it.
Just a few more comments... when I playback 1920x1080 5.1 audio clips, without rendering, so with the red line above them, the processor usage is around 60%... ie all four cores running at 60%. When playing back 1440x1080 clips the processor usage is around 50%, so all four cores running at 50%. What I do notice is that sometimes when it plays from one clip to the next it will stutter for a few seconds (processor usage shoots to 80% and then down to 12% for a few seconds) before resuming normal playback. But this does not happen everytime.
Note, when I render the clips, ie hit the Enter key, all four cores run at 100%.
I'm running Vista Ultimate 32-bit, could that be screwing with things. I have an NVidia 260gtx (their newest higher end line, second from the current top of the line 280) video card with their latest drivers.
I'm almost tempted to get a new case, power supply, motherboard, cpu to just update things and start fresh without installing many 3rd party codecs etc.
Vista 32-bit should be fine with PE7. The video card is not critical for PE7 as it does not use any of the graphics card GPU power during editing/playback.