Hi, I do tech support for a company that converts consumer media (stills, slides, video and film) into digital media (on hard drives, DVDs, etc.).
Currently they are using seriously old hardware from five years or more ago to this: machines like Pentium D's, Pentium 4's, with 2-4GB RAM, and up to 2TB of hard disk, with older video cards, running Adobe Premiere 1.5 and Matrox RX.100 video capture cards (on the machines doing video). They also have recently purchased a MacPro eight-core and four iMacs dual-cores running Final Cut Pro. Recently they purchased for the film department a higher-end eight-core PC with 8GB of RAM, and 5 TB of disk, with 1TB for the OS and programs and the rest in two RAID 0 volumes, and a BlackMagic IntensityPro device.
I've been trying to get the owner to upgrade the ancient stuff for a couple years now. He was hesitant because of the upfront expense in a down economy (he would need to upgrade at least five video processing machines, and 3 (now 2 with the IntensityPro machine) film machines, as well as possibly 3 still production machines. (We also have a bunch of ancient Dells running stills capture scanners.) Recently his video tech has been pushing for new hardware - probably because he's seen the excellent performance on the new IntensityPro machine compared to the old stuff (and that's AFTER we have to downgrade from the Windows 7 initially installed because our film conversion software won't run on anything but 32-bit Windows XP! So we're losing have the RAM and having to use two RAID 0s instead of one, not to mention no longer 64-bit!)
I've been pushing for new stuff for some time, as I said. The big problem has been the need to buy new Matrox cards. The RX.2 cards were costing a bundle (before the MX02 mini came out) and it would have required upgrading the Adobe Premiere Pro as well since the RX.100 cards would no longer be supported. In addition, the Matrox cards are hideously unstable, along with Premiere 1.5. The video tech can only use the machines for a few weeks before they become so unstable the OS and software has to be reloaded (usually from image backups I've made of each machine). Rinse and repeat. And every time I reinstall the image backup, Adobe declares it needs to be reactivated. So I have to uninstall the Matrox system, Premiere and Encore, then reinstall them. And installing the Matrox is nightmare - as soon as it starts installing the drivers, the PC crashes instantly two times out of three.
So I've been wondering just what the Matrox (and/or BlackMagic DeckLink) really bring to the table given today's faster hardware. And now that the video tech is pushing the boss, I've been assigned to design a new reference machine for the video and film work. So I've been researching the issue and this forum has been an excellent aid in determining what the start of the art is in NLE hardware.
So my questions now are these:
1) Given CS5 and CUDA on decent hardware, is there really a need for the Matrox/DeckLink hardware - especially given that, at the moment anyway, we're doing mostly SD work, with HD on the horizon, but unlikely to be doing Red, 2K, 4K, etc., i.e., higher end codecs and a lot of professional work? We don't do a lot of heavy effects processing as the work is mostly conversion of existing consumer video to a digital form with minimal modifications by definition.
2) The alleged benefits of proprietary hardware are fast capture/conversion, and hardware accelerated rendering and effects processing, using supplied proprietary effects. For each of these benefits, is there still a need for this sort of hardware if you have a decent quad-core with 8 threads, 16-24GB of RAM, and a CUDA video card?
3) I notice that Matrox on their Web site makes a point of mentioning, first, that CUDA provides many of the benefits of the Matrox hardware, but that also the Matrox effects processing benefits from CUDA, so the two can be used together. Is this a reasonable combo that justifies the extra expense?
4) Are there any benchmarks around that show the benefits of Matrox/DeckLink vs without on CS5 and current hardware?
I'm especially interested in what ADK has to say as they sell the Matrox hardware in their video line.
Thanks in advance for everything you can tell me.