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Only getting 25% CPU Usage on H.264 1080p export

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Steven Yates
Only getting 25% CPU Usage on H.264 1080p export
on Jan 5, 2017 at 6:25:50 am

Hello creative people of the interwebs ☺

I got my new editing rig today and the first thing I did was to try some Premiere Pro renders. However, the performance is underwhelming as the CPU usage (measured in task manager) is only 25%. On some other formats like .avi it's even worse and I get only 7% CPU usage.
My Raw footage is 1080p 59,94fps H.264 codec (21 Mbit/s) and I want to export to 1080p60 and 2160p60 using the H.264 YouTube template.

Specs:
CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2697 v4 (18 x 2,3 Ghz)
RAM: 64GB ECC-RAM
GPU: 2 x NVidea 1080 GTX Founder's Edition
SSD: Samsung 850 Evo 2TB SSD
OS: Windows 10 Pro
Software: Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017 / Media Encoder CC2017

When I export to H.264 1080p I get only 25% CPU usage in task manager. When I export to 4K I get around 50% usage. To simplify things I didn't add any effects, just rendered out the raw footage as it was.

My results (using 2 minute video clip):

1080p60 export
Raw Material: 2 Minute video, 59,94fps, 21 Mbit/s
Export Settings: H.264, 1920x1080 @ 59,94 fps, VBR 1 pass (25 Mbit/s target)
Render Time = 2:19 [Media Encoder] / 2:20 [Premiere Export]
CPU Usage ~25%

2160p60 export
Raw Material: 2 Minute video, 59,94fps, 21 Mbit/s
Export Settings H.264, 3840x2160 @ 59,94 fps, VBR 1 pass (30 Mbit/s target9
Render Time = 3:42 [Media Encoder] / same in Premiere Export
CPU usage ~50%


Is there any way to force 100% CPU usage? Any idea what could be holding the CPU back?
Might an older version of Premiere be more compatible?


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Joe Barta IV
Re: Only getting 25% CPU Usage on H.264 1080p export
on Jan 5, 2017 at 7:52:33 pm

Premiere and Media Encoder should be sending your exports and renders to the GPU, so you won't see much usage by the CPU. GPU usage is not reported with CPU usage.

Joe

Living the SuiteLife!
Stuff for editors http://www.cafepress.com/suitelife

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Chris Wright
Re: Only getting 25% CPU Usage on H.264 1080p export
on Jan 6, 2017 at 2:20:45 am

gpu-z will report gpu usuage.


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Steven Yates
Re: Only getting 25% CPU Usage on H.264 1080p export
on Jan 6, 2017 at 3:12:42 am

GPU Load shows 3% in GPU-Z (on both GTX 1080 cards).

Besides, it only uses GPU rendering for certain transitions, does it not?
I also tried "Mercury Playback Engine Software Only". Correct me if I'm wrong but this mode renders with CPU only (and skips GPU rendering). Yet I get the same weak usage percentage.

I tried some older Premiere Pro Trials today (going back to CS5). Same problem in all of them, regardless of whether I use Media Encoder or the built-in render option.

In .avi it uses only 7% (!) of CPU. Honestly, my old i7 6700k was rendering way faster than this $3000 CPU. At least it was running at 90-100% usage at all times.
Some formats, such as H.265 use 100% CPU. Yet they take an hour to render a 2 minute video.

Can it be that Premiere just doesn't work well with the Xeon E5-2697 v4? In other software the CPU works great and uses 100%. So I think it's either a problem with Premiere Pro software or the H.264 codec. Given that other codecs use 100% Premiere obviously recognizes the cores. I also checked that all the cores are enabled (Task Manager > Details > Adobe Premiere Pro > Set Affinity). I also tried all possible render setting combinations I could think off... but if anybody has an idea for possible fix via render settings please let me know.


I'm tempted to test with a i7 6950x CPU. Does anyone use that one and knows how it performs for H.264 rendering? Anybody else here with a Xeon who can test CPU/GPU usage for H.264? I know Premiere has trouble with more than 10 cores but it shouldn't be so drastic that a $3000 CPU is slower than a $300 one. This can't be right!


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Chris Wright
Re: Only getting 25% CPU Usage on H.264 1080p export
on Jan 6, 2017 at 4:07:05 am

"My conclusions are:
1) There does not seem to be any hard coded limit on CPU threads for H.264 output workflow for Premiere Pro (ie 4k to 4k utilizes 100% CPU on 24 threads -- dual Xeon 6-core w/ HT's)
2) However, there is a definite limit as to how may CPU threads will get utilized for a HD to HD H.264 output workflow; I was seeing 90+ % CPU utilization, but only when I had dropped available cores to around 12 threads. With 24 threads available, I was only seeing about 50% CPU utilization (think about that as closer to 100% utilization on 12 cores and the rest are just sitting around).
3) Both Premiere Pro and Media Encoder can run at the same time and utilize more cores than either will by itself (for HD workflows and lots of available CPU cores) When I ran both simultaneously, total CPU utilization was hitting just above 90% (w/ 24 threads available)."

https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2244842?start=40&tstart=0


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Steven Yates
Re: Only getting 25% CPU Usage on H.264 1080p export
on Jan 6, 2017 at 7:56:12 am

Thanks for the link, Chris!

They describe the exact same scenario - even their specs are very similar, and the output format identical.

After reading through all the posts my conclusion is that the software is the only bottleneck and my Xeon doesn't play well with 1080p H.264 renders. Fewer cores with higher Ghz per core are better for this particular codec. Adobe really needs to fix stuff like this (or find a workaround at least). What a bummer... I would never have thought a $3000 Xeon CPU performs worse in Premiere than my cheap, 4-year old $300 six core CPU. C'mon Adobe 😃

I'll do what the guy in the adobe forums did and switch to i7 6950x CPU overclocked to 4.2Ghz. Might report back in a few days or a week for a comparison.

Thanks to everyone for their input. If anyone still has an idea or possible fix please let us know ☺
Render Settings: H.264, 1920x1080, 59,94fps, 25 Mbit/s VBR 1-passthrough
Goal: Get Xeon CPU usage to 90-100%. Render time should be half the actual video length.
What CPU not to buy: Intel Xeon with more than 10 cores.


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