Mercury, CUDA, and what it all means

[I’m creating this thread as something that we can all refer to whenever one of the frequent questions about CUDA and the Mercury Playback Engine arises. I’m making this a forum thread instead of a blog post because I expect there to be questions.]


‘Mercury Playback Engine’ is a  name for a large number of performance improvements in Premiere Pro CS5.  Those improvements include the following:


– 64-bit application

– multithreaded application

– processing of some things using CUDA


Everyone who has Premiere Pro CS5 has the first two of these. Only the third one depends on having a specific graphics card.


Confusingly—because  of one of our own early videos that was just plain unclear—a lot of  people think that ‘Mercury’ just refers to CUDA processing. This is  wrong. To see that this was not the original intent, you need look no  further than the project settings UI strings ‘Mercury Playback Engine  GPU Acceleration’ and ‘Mercury Playback Engine Software Only’, which  would make no sense if ‘Mercury’ meant “hardware” (i.e., CUDA).


The official and up-to-date list of the cards that provide the CUDA processing features is here:

Some of the cards on that list are only enabled if you have the recent updates.


On Mac OS, CUDA processing features of Premiere Pro CS5 require Mac OSX v10.6.3 or later.


CUDA is an Nvidia technology, so only Nvidia cards provide it.


If you don’t have one of these CUDA cards, you can still use Premiere Pro CS5; you just won’t get the advantages of processing with CUDA.


Here’s a list of things that Premiere Pro CS5 can process with CUDA:

some effects


– deinterlacing

– blending modes

– color space conversions


It’s worth mentioning one set of things that Premiere Pro CS5 doesn’t process using CUDA: encoding and decoding.


Note  that whether a frame can be processed by CUDA depends on the size of  the frame and the amount of RAM on the graphics card (VRAM). This article gives details about that, toward the bottom.


Processing  with CUDA doesn’t just mean that things are faster. In some cases, it  can actually mean that results are better, as with scaling. See this article for details.


The  term ‘Mercury Playback Engine’ refers to Premiere Pro. It has nothing  to do with After Effects. After Effects CS5 is a 64-bit application, and  it has been multithreaded for a long time, so those improvements are  there. But After Effects doesn’t use CUDA (though a few third-party  plug-ins do).

via Adobe Community : Popular Discussions – Adobe Premiere Forums