Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adobe’s Mercury playback engine

At last weeks BOSFCPUG meeting there was a short discussion of Adobe’s upcoming Mercury playback engine. The name is a little misleading, Mercury is their current name for a technology that uses the computers GPU to accelerate processing in other applications. They have been demoing using it in Premiere Pro to accelerate playback of highly compressed formats (like AVCHD) as well as accelerating rendering and exporting.

In addition to faster processing, it also frees the CPU for other things.

There’s a movie online where Adobe’s Dave Helmly gives a Sneak Peak of Premier Pro using the Mercury Playback Engine. If you read the separate blogpost, you’ll see that they say that Adobe has not committed to releasing the technology yet, though everyone seems to be assuming it will be in Premiere Pro CS5.

One downside; it is built on NVIDIA’s CUDA technology, and will only work with certain NVIDIA GPU’s.
Question: "Why didn't you use OpenCL then?"
Answer: OpenCL wasn't finished or ratified when this decision was made. Given a choice between doing it with CUDA or not doing it for a while because of OpenCL, we chose the former. Besides, as I mentioned, NVIDIA has a hugely dominant market share in the professional graphics market, so we think that most people will be comfortable with the options available to them.
Apple, meanwhile, has embraced OpenCL in Snow Leopard, though Final Cut Pro 3 does not take advantage of it, and there’s no word on when it will.


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