Initial Cuda Experiences & Hopes

My systems have CUDA, though I have never knowingly made use of this.  Using GPU Caps (Capabilities) Viewer, that I discovered my computers’ GPUs definitely had CUDA capability:

  • MacBook Pro GPU: NVIDIA 9600M GT, has CUDA, 4 multiprocessors, each 1.25 GHz (shader-clock), CC (Compute Capability) of 1.1.
  • Mac Pro GPU: GeForce 8800 GT, has CUDA, 14 multiprocessors each of 1.5GHz (shader-clock), CC of 1.1 (again).

Sounds promising, but can any of my video apps use this CUDA?  And is it the “right kind” of CUDA, like does it come in various varieties?  What difference will it make to framerate and processing speed? And are there any negatives, e.g. GPU overheat crashes or video “tearing”  ? I’ll have to experiment to find out, but as a starting-point, here’s what I learnt from the web:

  • General knowledge & tips:
    • Quality
      • Some applications/effects are quality-limited in their design in order to avoid excessive (unpopular) processing times on single-CPU systems (lowest common denominator).
      • Some exploit multi-threading in the context of either multiple CPU cores and/or multiple GPU cores, either in terms of quality (the overall processing speed constraint having been reduced).
      • Alternatively some go purely for speed, sometimes even at the expense of reduced quality.
    • Speed
      • Depends on the machine.  For example a fast GPU on a slow machine may be bottlenecked by transfer speeds.
    • GPU Driver Version
      • Update to the latest (having backed-up beforehand, just in case etc.).
        • On my Mac Pro, one of the CUDA-enabled applications (Neat Video, further below) refused it, complaining: “CUDA Driver is too old”.
  • Applications:
    • Sony Vegas (SV)
      • Only helps with SV version 10, and then only with the Sony encoder for H264 (does not help with the MainConcept H264 encoder).
      • Does not contribute to previewing etc.
      • In principle could help with plugins that are themselves designed for CUDA.
      • One such plugin is Neat Video version 3.
    • Neat Video
      • Available as a plugin for several NLEs.  Currently I have its version 2 for Sony Vegas and for VirtualDub, though I only really use the former.
      • Version 3 is designed to take advantage of CUDA.
      • Might as well put this on the Mac Pro, as that has vastly more processing resource and doesn’t tend to crash on overheat when heavily processing for extended periods (unlike the MacBook Pro…).
    • Sorenson Squeeze
      • The new Version 7 takes advantage of CUDA.
      • Adobe:
        • Version 7 comes with an export plugin for Adobe CS5.5
      • Avid
        • The one that comes bundled with Avid MV 5.5 is an earlier version (6).
        • It is possible to upgrade to version 7 independently of the Avid package, in which case:
          • It has an Export-Plugin for Avid
          • However Avid Support (including Forums) won’t support that version.


  • Web:
  •  Experiments:
    • Mac Pro, GeForce 8800 GT (CUDA, 14 multiprocessors each of 1.5GHz, CC of 1.1)
    • (No version of Neat Video was previously installed on this machine, hence no such comparison basis).
    • Tried a quick test:
      • Complained my CUDA Driver was too old, advised me to update GPU Driver to latest.
      • Ran test anyway – no CUDA, just 4 threads (the max permitted by XP Pro 32).   Preview set to Good/Half.
        • Preview 9 fps 38% CPU
        • Render: 7m 18s CPU 54%
    • Updated everything on the machine, Graphics driver included.
    • Ran a second test, this time with new driver and hopefully then CUDA enabled…
      • NeatVideo has CPU+GPU enabled:
        • Preview 5 fps
        • Render: 15 mins (25% CPU)
      • Neat Video’s optimal suggestion for my system: CPU (7 cores) , no GPU:
        • Preview: 10 fps, 38% CPU
        • Render: 6 min 41 sec, CPU 53%

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