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Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding

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Joe Marler
Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 16, 2018 at 4:15:24 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Is it just encodes? If this accelerates decode, too, does it make working with those devilish H.264 formats [link] any smoother?"

I tested 1080p AVCHD and Sony 4k XAVC-S, and for both it appears to be encode only. Decoding, as measured by viewer frame rate during timeline scrubbing and JKL responsiveness, is about the same between PP 2017 vs 2018. This is also the same on a 10-core Vega 64 iMac Pro -- IOW PP 2018 doesn't exhibit any significant speedup when scrubbing the timeline vs 2017 (at least on Mac). Selecting Metal vs OCL made no difference for either decode or encode.

There's no question PP 2018 is a lot faster at encoding than 2017. On a 2 min UHD 4k XAVC-S clip, and encoding to 1-pass 20 mbps 1080p H264, it was.

2017 PP on 2017 i7 iMac: 04:15
2018 PP on 2017 i7 iMac: 01:19
2018 PP on 2017 10-core iMac Pro: 01:10

Encode time using the same parameters and same clip on FCPX 10.4.2 was:

2017 i7 iMac: 01:09
2017 10-core iMac Pro: 00:51

Interestingly, when comparing timeline responsiveness of PP 2018 on a 2017 i7 iMac vs 10-core Vega 64 iMac Pro, it was a little faster on the iMac Pro. CPU graphs shows Premiere timeline scrubbing (without effects) is highly CPU-intensive and the GPU isn't used much. The iMP has more CPU horsepower so it was a bit quicker.

By contrast with FCPX, the iMac Pro was actually a little more sluggish than the 2017 i7 iMac on timeline responsiveness on 4k XAVC-S (ie H264). H264 decoding is hardware accelerated on FCPX -- that's obvious due to the lower CPU levels for equivalent actions vs Premiere. However it appears the AMD UVD hardware acceleration on the iMP is not as effective as Quick Sync on the i7. The iMP's extra CPU horsepower isn't helping FCPX decode/encode on H264 because the code path uses either Quick Sync or AMD's UVD/VCE.

So Premiere 2018 H264 *encode* performance now rivals FCPX on the same Mac hardware, but decode performance is not dramatically improved. On 4k H264, FCPX timeline operations remain much quicker and more responsive than Premiere, esp for JKL.

However it is sad that FCPX is actually slower at 4k H264 encode *and* decode on a 10-core Vega 64 iMac Pro than a 2017 iMac.

Encode time for a 2:00 UHD 4k ProRes clip to 4k 1-pass H264:

2017 i7 iMac: 01:04
2017 10-core iMac Pro: 01:25

I don't think this deficiency of FCPX on the iMac Pro is widely appreciated in the video editing community. It's easy to say H264 is for beginners, just use ProRes or RAW. However my documentary team sometimes has several multicam teams, three drones, several motion control rigs, multiple action cams and several time lapse cameras -- all in simultaneous use at a single site. All of that is 4k H264 and we can shoot nearly 1 terabyte per day, which must be offloaded and duplicated on site. ProRes would be six times that amount, so it's just not feasible.

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