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The new Mercury Playback Engine in Adobe CS5 allows your nVidia CUDA cards to handle some of the work your CPU would otherwise have to do, but is it only effects and rendering it helps with?

Can I expect normal playback (without effects) of some of my larger 1080p H.264 or AVCHD videos to be smother at full quality in the preview pane? Or is that all done by the CPU?

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I don't know how Premiere works, but it's certainly possible to use the graphics card to do video decoding. It's probably not CUDA that's used for this, but APIs like DirectX Video Acceleration (or VDPAU on Unix), based on NVIDIA PureVideo. –  user55325 Apr 8 '11 at 4:08

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in reality you gain very little or no performance boost with nvidia cuda or ati stream technology in editing unless you use their professional cards which are specifically made for editing work.

you can see a list at http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere/systemreqs/ Adobe-certified NVIDIA GPU card for GPU-accelerated performance

all the other cards there are made for gaming purpose and they don't help much in your editing needs.

But if you have already a NVIDIA card then you can try to hack the premire to work with your card. follow the instruction on this page http://blog.krama.tv/hacking-adobe-premiere-cs5-to-enable-more-nvidia-cuda-cards/ if it can help you.

and according to above article it does not help in decoding the compressed video format(a litle surprising)

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I would point out that there's very little if any difference between the Geforce and Quadro cards in terms of hardware. The Geforce cards just have certain features disabled from the factory. –  user55325 Apr 8 '11 at 4:46
    
you may be right and i update my post and add a hacking link if it can help out with at least some Geforce cards –  kaykay Apr 8 '11 at 4:50
    
@user55325: Yes, what you are paying for with Quadro/FirePro is the ability to use the certified and optimised drivers for certain professional application, and dedicated support. It costs a lot of money to make specialised drivers for a relatively small userbase, which is why the cards are so expensive. –  paradroid Apr 16 '11 at 13:21

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