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Regarding stability, what I have found is the source files used on import, impact PE much greater than how much video is sitting on the timeline.
Proof in point, just yesterday, I had four (4) hours of DV-AVI sitting on the timeline.
(VOB's ripped from DVD, AVI convert using Windows Movie Maker)
I edited, moved clips around, added a few transitions, burned a simple menu to folder.
PE was rock solid for 3+ hours of work (including burn time).
If you have an hour of video on the timeline, split/delete the clip and are left with 30 minutes of video, you should see your render/encode time reduce relative to that...
Let's take a 1 hr. Project as our example: if you Render the full 1 hr. it will take X amount of time. If you split it in half and make no other changes, your Render time will be X/2 for each. X/2 x 2 will still equal X, or so very close as to not make any real difference. You will spend more time Opening up the two halves and hitting Render, than you will save. Now, as Render time is CPU dependent, there might be a small advantage (most efficient use of a CPU) to doing it in segments. As my QuadCore never maxes out, I doubt that I could tell this difference except with a stopwatch - the clock on the wall will likely not be accurate enough. If I'm on my dual Quad machine, I'm not even sure that a mechanical stopwatch would show it. If one has a slower CPU, then things could be different enough, as to count, but still not all that much.
It's like using pure RAM vs Windows Virtual Memory, on a fast machine. Yes, there is a difference in speed, but a human would be hard-pressed to really tell that difference. Get into Virtual Memory on a slow machine with very slow I/O and then you'll actually see the difference.
Overall workability will likely improve with the split Project. There you will likely see a speed difference and also be able to edit more comfortably with less concern over crashes. The Render time, however, will not yield enough difference for a sip of coffee, once you add up the pieces that need to be Rendered.