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A new card won't help at all with CS4.
1. Would the cuda technology give me the ability to playback Canon 7d (50mps avchd footage) smoothly in CS4? With my current graphics card CS4 chokes on it, and I am exporting mpeg 2 proxy files to edit with.
No, GPU acceleration is a feature of CS5, not CS4. Also check to make sure your Mac tower would support it. You need a Mac Pro that is a 3.1 or 4.1. I have a 2008 Mac Pro and if you look in the System Profiler, it is a 2.1, which means it won't support a CUDA enabled nvidia graphics card.
2. Can others tell me their experience with CS5, a cuda card, and working with high bitrate avchd footage?
It works great. the GPU accelerates the effects, not the decoding of the video. If you put CS5 on your existing Mac Pro, you'll get two thirds of the Mercury Playback engine without the GPU. Because CS5 is native 64 bit you will see a big difference in the performance.
3. What should I do with my old card? Would both fit in my mac pro? Would having the older one in there too disable the use of cuda technology in Premiere? Could I tell Premiere to only use the cuda card and ignore the other one?
Do you have a source to be able to buy a GTX-285? They are no longer available from most suppliers. The nVidia replacement for this board is a GTX 470
I'd check out places like pricewatch.com or pricegrabber.com.
If they're truly out, then purchasing a GTX 470, is probably a good thing. Get the 480 if you can as I think that one is definitely on the supported list for an update later this year.
Hope this helps,
Thanks for all the replies. I was under the impression that cuda would also accelarate the playback of h.264 footage, but I guess I was wrong. If the mercury engine is able to playback canon dslr footage just using the cpu, and without choking after a few seconds, then I guess that it would make more sense for me to upgrade from cs4 rather than buy a new graphics card.