by David Helmly

As the Adobe Pro Video & Audio Field Team manager for the Americas, I lead a team responsible for working with customers and vendors on the newest technologies that benefit our Pro Video and Audio applications.

We share our findings with the senior engineering teams and product managers, giving them insight into the real workflow benefits of these new technologies. The result: fine-tuned versions of each application, ready to leverage the GPU and tackle the next workflow challenge.

One example of our close collaboration with NVIDIA is our new Mercury Transmit feature, which gives partners a simple programming interface through which they can hook up hardware to Adobe Premiere Pro, Prelude and Encore. NVIDIA and Adobe engineers created the Transmit plug-in to allow Quadro SDI boards to take advantage of Mercury Transmit throughout the entire CS6 Production Premium suite, including our new Color Grading application, Speed Grade.

There are five CS6 workflows that I see most users falling into. Here are my recommendations of NVIDIA GPU setups best-suited for each.

Full CS6 Production Premium Suite workflow

For heavy users of After Effects, Premiere Pro, SpeedGrade and Photoshop, you’ll want to select either the Quadro 5000 or 6000, depending on your After Effects needs. The more memory you have on the card (6000 has the most @ 6GB), the longer the After Effects RAM previews.

For more GPU power, you can add an NVIDIA Tesla C2075 board. This is essentially an NVIDIA Maximus setup and is insanely fast. This provides a dual GPU config for After Effects users. NVIDIA Quadro SDI boards are also supported in CS6 Premiere Pro using NVIDIA’s new Mercury Transmit driver.  **Note** check your power supply requirements when using two or more boards in your system.

CS6 Production Premium Suite Workflow
For those of you who use all the tools but spend most of your time in Premiere Pro (using the other apps to create assets for your Premiere sequences), you can use the Quadro 5000 or 4000 for starters and when you need more GPU power you can drop in a Tesla board at any time to get a nice “bump” in performance.  Mac Pro users should choose the Quadro 4000.

Traditional CS6 Premiere Pro Workflow
If 95% of your work is done using Premiere Pro, you’ll want to go with either the Quadro 2000 or 4000. The 2000 is an excellent choice for those Windows users on a budget and mainly doing two or three layers of video and graphics. If you find yourself needing more GPU power, you can drop in a Tesla C2075. The Quadro 2000 + Tesla setup gives you amazingly fast performance.  Mac Pro users should go with the Quadro 4000.

CS6 After Effects Workflow
If you’re using the new 3D ray tracing engine in After Effects and need all-out performance and time savings for extruding 3D images, then you’ll want a high-end NVIDIA Maximus configuration boasting a Quadro 6000 and a Tesla C2075. For users who only occasionally use this new 3D feature, an entry-level Maximus system comprised of a Quadro 2000 and Tesla C2075 is a good choice that still delivers great ray tracing performance gains compared to dual high-end CPUs.

Otherwise, the biggest concern for most After Effects power users is how much RAM is on the card – RAM determines the length of RAM previews  For power users, cards like the Quadro 6000 offer the most CUDA cores and most memory as of the writing of this blog article. The Quadro 5000 offers less memory but still displays high CUDA GPU performance. By adding a Tesla C2075, After Effects can take advantage of both GPUs. The combination of a Quadro 6000 and a Tesla C2075 board gives you the best possible GPU performance currently available. Mac Pro users will want the Quadro 4000.

SpeedGrade Workflow
The Quadro 2000 is an excellent choice for SpeedGrade users, as it has enough memory and GPU power to deliver excellent real-time performance. You can also use any of the other Quadro cards: I use a Quadro 5000 along with a Quadro SDI Output card in my SpeedGrade system.

Consider opting for the SDI Output option. This allows for real-time, high-end SDI monitoring. It is currently the only SDI board supported in CS6 SpeedGrade for Windows. (NVIDIA Quadro SDI boards are also supported in CS6 Premiere Pro, Prelude and Encore via NVIDIA’s new Mercury Transmit driver).

A few thoughts on Mac and OSX
I also use a Mac at least 50 percent of my day and fully understand Mac Pro users’ concerns about having one Quadro card to pick from. The first thing to understand is that Apple needs to approve all hardware that goes into the Mac Pro. As any OSX user knows, Apple has a tightly controlled environment and has been able to give its users a solid experience when it comes to a video editing platform – which is one of the main benefits for many Mac users. Apple ensures their Mac’s maintain specific internal hardware requirements (power requirements, heat, and PCI bus voltage) to work with their unified OSX Graphics driver. NVIDIA has to work within these guidelines and come up with a solid solution for the Mac Pro user.

The Quadro 4000 and the older FX4800 are excellent choices that offer good memory and great CUDA performance. NVIDIA continues to update the CUDA driver for OSX (just updated to 4.2.7 this week). I’ll continue to watch out for the Mac Pro user in my discussions with NVIDIA and make recommendations on what they would like to see in future board releases.