16 Replies Latest reply on Apr 18, 2011 8:40 AM by Daxman1965

    Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA


      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.

        • 1. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
          ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

          The main reasons to get the I/O devices are if you need to capture/ingest material or need to monitor out interlaced. The only other reason is if you want a 3rd monitor out or want a automatic full screen output for AE. Beyond that there is little need for the I/O devices. The Blackmagic works fine with the MPE as does the Matrox. However they will not speed up or accelerate the encoding beyond the MPE. If anything they will slow it down a little. We don't have benchmarks with the either device since our benchmark project would have to be recreated in one of their sequences. I might do that at some point when I have the time. I do know the export times with AVI material take far longer out of Adobe if you have the Current Matrox tools installed. It seems the Matrox tools AVI is over righting what Adobe normally uses.




          • 2. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
            richardstevenhack Level 1

            We don't use a third monitor, and I'm not sure if they monitor interlaced. I think they monitor just on the PC screen.


            We do of course capture material since we're taking in customer media from camera tapes and analog/digital decks. I'm not a video expert at all, so I don't know how much we'd lose if we didn't use the Matrox for that purpose. I believe we also use some Canopus devices.


            The gist of what I get from your reply is that the Matrox/DeckLink stuff doesn't really help more than a CUDA system would, and that in some cases it would even be contra-indicated?

            • 3. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
              ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

              If you need to capture analog then you will need a capture device or the Canopus units. If you already have the Canopus units, and you find the quality acceptable then I would use them. If not then the Blackmagic would be the way to go.




              • 4. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                richardstevenhack Level 1

                Ok, understood. My next question would be: why would you recommend the BlackMagic DeckLink over the Matrox MX02 Mini or LE?

                • 5. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                  ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                  The Blackmagic hardware are cheaper. They give you Blackmagic's MJpeg codec which is real nice and the software does not cause AVI exports to take far longer out of Adobe like the Matrox Tools do at this point.




                  • 6. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                    richardstevenhack Level 1

                    OK, understood. Thanks, Eric.


                    So it looks like we need either Canopus or Matrox/DeckLink for video capture, and Matrox/DeckLink possibly for monitoring, but not otherwise compared to CUDA and a fast CPU.


                    Anyone else want to chime in? Are there considerations I'm missing here?


                    Among other things, we have some of the cheaper Canopus devices IIRC. The more expensive ones start to cost about the same or more as Matrox and DeckLink internal cards/external boxes.


                    Is there any cost/benefit or quality issues associated with using Canopus devices vs Matrox/DeckLink? How many of you guys use either Matrox or DeckLink or IntensityPro hardware and why?

                    • 7. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                      Daxman1965 Level 1

                      Hi Richard,


                      I have the following system,


                      I7 980X

                      24 gig 2000 ram

                      GTX 480

                      Intel Raid card (8 x 1tb)


                      with the Matrox MX02 mini with max the total time was 622 sec on the benchmark and I could not get it better. Eric helped me trying to solve the problem and I removed the Matrox pci card and uninstalled the drivers and we got 159 sec on the benchmark. I then purchased a Blackmagic Ultrastudio Pro and my benchmark times stay the same 159 sec (darren axco 980x) I think the machine is currently 10th on PPBM5. I don't understand why this is but to me the machine works better with the Blackmagic I/O than the Matrox and you get support from Blackmagic much faster than Matrox. I do have a few issues with the Ultrastudio Pro but if I edit in the BM 8 bit or 10 bit preset all is well.


                      I hope this helps



                      • 8. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                        Burk Wagner

                        I have two computers running Matrox systems (MXO2 mini with Max, and RT.X2). When I run the PPBM5 benchmark by double-clicking, it runs as a normal Adobe project, and I get run times that are just what my computer hardware should get. (I.e., the Matrox system is not used, and does NOT slow things down on my computers).  The way I run the PPBM5 benchmark with the Matrox hardware in use is to start a project with a Matrox preset (I used 1080p) and import the PPBM project.  Since that project is not set to use the Matrox version of the effects,  one would not expect any speed-up.  Since the Matrox presets start by transcoding the H264 benchmark timeline into Matrox I-frame format, it takes considerably longer to render than just an Adobe project. (Same as when one wants to work with Cineform codecs). And one would have to 'translate' PPBM5 into a format that uses Matrox-specific effects to test out the value of the Matrox system.  And anyway, neither my Blackmagic Intensity card (on another computer) nor the Matrox card would speed up the final rendering of MPEG-2 DVD nor DV-PAL used in PPBM5. (The Matrox MXO2/Max system speeds up H264 encoding considerably via hardware, when a Matrox H264 preset is used rather than the Adobe H264). The value of the cards right now is in providing an external monitor and ingesting video in a variety of formats.  Some of the initial advantage of the Matrox system over the Blackmagic systems (speed-up of applying effects over one or multiple timelines to give realtime performance) has of course been made moot by the hardware part of the Adobe MPE acceleration.  One advantage of the Matrox system is that real-time effects (at least those provided by Matrox in their software) are achievable even for non NVIDIA graphic cards.

                        • 9. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                          Daxman1965 Level 1

                          hi Burk,


                          I had a RT.X2 card with CS4 and that was great  while it was used with CS4. CS5 is another story. I did enjoy all the Matrox effects with CS4 but what you get with CS5 drivers it is not worth the money. I Live in South Africa PAL land and the problems I have had with the matrox system with field order issues was madness. I can only say one thing, my system with matrox drivers (Matrox MX02 mini with max) was unstable and unresponsive and my PPBM5 results showed that. Maybe with the latest drivers it will work better the problem is and allways will be with matrox is the time frame on new drivers. The Matrox drivers for CS5.03 came out last week Adobe updated CS5 months ago.


                          Huge problem in the future CS5.5 how long will take for Matrox to come o the party?





                          • 10. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                            ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                            I have verified the AVI export slow down with several people and also here. I have  also tested with the  latest tools from Matrox and that has not changed. If you export to AVI that is not Matrox after the tools are installed, the export time is far longer than it normally is without the tools.




                            • 11. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                              Burk Wagner Level 1

                              I don't disagree at all with the above negative comments (user experience, after all).

                              As I said, in a non-Matrox project (with a computer containing Matrox hardware) PPBM5 behaves normally.  In a Matrox project, the non-matrox files run significantly slower indeed.  Quuite a disadvantage.  For fastest performance, one should capture files directly into a Matrox format.  The obvious question is whether the hassles of re-capturing or of transcoding are worth it to the user.

                              • 12. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                                ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                                Actually that is different than I have seen regarding the PPBM5 project and the Matrox tools. The Disk Export time which is DV AVI takes far longer if the Matrox tools are installed. I have also tried other AVI based codecs and it was as well. The PPBM5 does not initialize the Matrox hardware and is not using a  Matrox Preset.




                                • 13. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                                  richardstevenhack Level 1

                                  OK, thanks for the responses, everyone. I'll forward this info to the NLE staff at my client so they can make a decision vis-a-vis Matrox vs BlackMagic.


                                  One thing I noticed when visiting the Matrox forums is the number of posts saying the same thing: the individual puts the card into their system and end up with a frozen PC that has to be rebooted. And the Matrox support basically says the same thing they used to say in the forums for the RTX100: change the card to another slot, latest drivers, etc. In other words, the reliability of the current Matrox drivers is about the same crappy quality they had back then.


                                  So I'm hoping my client's staff goes for the BlackMagic instead. I'm going to see if I can design the new NLE build to use a BlackMagic supported motherboard to minimize problems.

                                  • 14. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                                    Burk Wagner Level 1

                                    Sorry to be so late in responding.  I am using this email account mostly for junkmail, and don't monitor it closely enough.

                                    See my follow-up on the Matrox MXO2 user board:  I had not studied the effect of the MXO2 system closely enough.

                                    I think the hardware issue has been resolved: the only current commercial boxes sold by Matrox (the MXO2 systems and beyond) do not pose a hardware issue.  Reports you see concerning the RT.X2 and the RTX-100 system don't matter since these are obsolete, and at or beyond their end-of-life stage.

                                    The effect of the Matrox software on the MSDV PAL export appears to be real. 

                                    I have both a Blackmagic Intensity board and a Matrox MXO2nini in one of my computers.  Keep in mind that one has to use the company-specific project presets in either case.  If you run a plain vanilla Adobe project, you don't get anything on the external monitor.  (A Cineform preset will give output on the Intensity board, come to think of it)

                                    All in all, I personally find the MXO2 system more useful due to the more versatile I/O capabilities.


                                    • 15. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                                      Burk Wagner Level 1


                                      Odd: I have the opposite situation.  Adobe CS4 was a piece of **** compared to CS5, and I now have much less of an issue with either the MXO2/CS5 or the RT.X2/CS5 unit.  And none of my problems have involved NTSC files.  Matrox does seem to have more difficulty with the PAL version of the software... I hope the new software for CS5.03 helps you in PAL land...  And Matrox claims to have software for CS5.5 out in June (= September).   I myself will probably go over to CS5.5, even though I don't think the advantages over 5.03 are worth the money...

                                      I find it annoying that Matrox is always so late with their driver updates compare to Cineform and Blackmagic.  They know that a significant fraction of their users itch to run the latest version of the Adobe software.  A rep told me once that (a) Adobe keeps making last minute changes to their upcoming release that forces Matrox to start all over again, and (b) the economic situation does not allow Matrox to use the number of programmers and evaluators needed to respond immediately to changes in Adobe software.


                                      But looking over my collection of Adobe software stretching back over 25 years, it seems that only a few versions deserve an immediate upgrade when they come out.  Maybe waiting and skipping minor upgrades is better after all...


                                      • 16. Re: Question for the Gurus Here - Matrox/DeckLink vs CUDA
                                        Daxman1965 Level 1

                                        Hi Burk,


                                        don't get me wrong. the rt.x2 card and all the effects it had with cs4 worked well for what i was doing. I have just purchased a second laptop (Lenovo W701) and want sell my old one (Acer 7720g) so I loaded the Matrox latest drivers for mx02 mini max and it does not help in any way with performance. I will have to sell laptop and Mx02 seperately. I think most of the products mached up with the correct hardware work ok. my edit machine with BM ultrastudio pro works great so i will stick with that.