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With versions up to 5.03 there was a very distinct difference between 12 GB and more. It looked like passing the 12 GB border gave you a huge performance gain and it did not require to go the full yard to 24 GB. However with CS5.5 it looks like that giant step in performance is no longer that obvious or prominent. 24 GB will perform noticeably better with CS5.5, but not as clearly as with CS5. If you currently have three sticks of 4 GB each, I would add another three sticks (same brand/model) but if you currently have 6 x 2 GB sticks, it would mean that three of those will become unused and memory can only be increased to 18 GB or you have to exchange all sticks. Difficult choice...
What kind of source material do you normally edit? With uncompressed, P2Intra100, 4:2:2 50Mb material, I think it would be a good move because of the space requirements, but with AVCHD or HDV, I'm not sure. Sorry.
Many thanks Harm
My source material is captured HDV 1080i from my Sony Z1 (still tape!) now mixed with .mov files from my Canon 550D. My RAM configuration is 6 memory sticks of 2gig.
I'm happy (if that's right word) to lose the 6x2 gig sticks in favour of a new batch of 6x4gig. Money is not a problem at this stage if the return is a likely appreciable performance gain in CS5 (but I'd cry if I bought a bunch of new 4gig sticks and the likely result was no obvious change).
I elevated your memory question to someone who is allegedly our "Supreme Source of Expertise", at least that was what I was told at the IBC today. That person may respond here or he may prefer to PM me. Anyway, I'll try to follow up on this issue with the information that I can share and prevent you from making unwise investments. My reason for not giving a more direct answer is because of the huge changes in caching algorithms and memory management between CS5 and CS5.5, so I need to get information about the "under-the-hood' operations of the two versions, but then I may be limited in what I am allowed to divulge.
With HDV material and CS5.5 my guess is that the gains are limited.
Thank you Harm, That's really nice of you and very much appreciated.
Maybe this is not valid for your case of HDV editing but our very complex PPBM5 benchmark shows significant improvement in the two CPU intensive scores when going from 12 GB to 24 GB. The MPEG2-DVD encoding went from 95 seconds to 60 seconds and the H.264 encoding scores dropped from 52 seconds to 44 seconds. This was with CS5.5 and my 4.2 GHz overclocked i7-980X with and the GTX 580. As Harm has said you do not really have to have 24 GB it seems that just anything over 12 GB seems to benefit Premiere. It will be interesting to see Adobe's comments.