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

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Joe Marler
Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 5, 2018 at 1:33:10 pm

For years Premiere has been criticized as being much slower than FCPX at H264 encode and decode due to not using Quick Sync. A year or two ago Premiere started using this on Windows (to some degree) but not Mac.

Starting with 2018 it's supported on both Windows and Mac. It makes a huge difference when dealing with H264 material on either decode or encode side. To enable it on Windows several steps are needed (see below video); it's automatically used on Mac if the hardware supports it.

Intel's Xeon CPU doesn't have Quick Sync but with FCPX 10.4.x, Apple apparently began using AMDs UVD/VCE hardware as a substitute. It seems Adobe also did this on the iMac Pro, as Premiere CC exhibits hardware-accelerated transcoding speed on that platform.

In limited tests I've run on both a 2017 top-spec iMac 27 and a 10-core Vega 64 iMac Pro, Premiere CC was faster in some cases than FCPX at H264 encoding on the iMac, and faster in every case on the iMac Pro.

Test material: 1:20 UHD 4k 8-bit 4:2:0 100 mbps from Sony A7RII
Test: Encode from 4k timeline to 1-pass H264 at 30 mbps (4k) or 20 mbps (1080p)

2017 iMac 27 (mm:ss.tenths)

Premiere 2017: 3:07.6 - 4k H264 1-pass 30 mbps
Premiere 2018: 00:53.9 - 4k H264 1-pass 30 mbps
FCPX 10.4.2: 00:50.1 - 4k H264 1-pass 30 mbps

Premiere 2017: 01:30.9 - 1080p H264 1-pass 20 mbps
Premiere 2018: 00:44.8 - 1080p H264 1-pass 20 mbps
FCPX 10.4.2: 00:49.1 - 1080p H264 1-pass 20 mbps

2017 iMac Pro, 10-core, Vega 64:

Premiere 2018: 00:47.13 - 4k H264 1-pass 30 mbps
FCPX 10.4.2: 01:00.5 - 4k H264 1-pass 30 mbps

Premiere 2018: 00:30.3 - 1080p H264 1-pass 20 mbps
FCPX 10.4.2: 00:34.5 - 1080p H264 1-pass 20 mbps

Hardware: 2017 iMac 27, 4.2Ghz i7-8700K, 32GB, 8GB Radeon Pro 580, 2GB SSD
2017 iMac Pro 10-core, 16GB Vega 64, 2TB SSD
Software: macOS 10.13.4, FCPX 10.4.2, Premiere CC 2017.1.2, Premiere CC 2018 ver. 12.1.1

https://helpx.adobe.com/media-encoder/using/export-settings-reference.html






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Scott Witthaus
Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 6, 2018 at 10:46:16 pm

Wait. Is this supposed to make me switch to Premiere?

Scott Witthaus
Senior Editor/Visual Storyteller
https://vimeo.com/channels/1322525
Managing Partner, Low Country Creative LLC
Professor, VCU Brandcenter


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Bret Williams
Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 6, 2018 at 11:40:10 pm

I know. So you can wait 7 years for them to implement the next technology.

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Herb Sevush
Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 7, 2018 at 10:54:17 am

[Scott Witthaus] "Wait. Is this supposed to make me switch to Premiere?"

No, but it's one less reason to switch to X.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Scott Witthaus
Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 7, 2018 at 12:17:43 pm

[Herb Sevush] "No, but it's one less reason to switch to X"

To each their own....I probably make up those seconds in the first hour of an X edit. YMMV.

Scott Witthaus
Senior Editor/Visual Storyteller
https://vimeo.com/channels/1322525
Managing Partner, Low Country Creative LLC
Professor, VCU Brandcenter


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James Culbertson
Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 8, 2018 at 7:00:50 pm

[Scott Witthaus] "Wait. Is this supposed to make me switch to Premiere?"

4 seconds difference? No. But it is great that Premiere editors don't have to suffer with longer encodes anymore.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 8, 2018 at 10:14:44 pm

[James Culbertson] "4 seconds difference? No. But it is great that Premiere editors don't have to suffer with longer encodes anymore."

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

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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James Culbertson
Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 12, 2018 at 3:53:30 am

[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'd like to know this too. One of the many reasons I prefer FCP10 is that I never have to transcode to edit native AVCHD or H.264 MP4 footage.


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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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Andrew Kimery
Re: Premiere CC 2018 H264 uses Quick Sync, faster than FCPX on iMac Pro at H264 encoding
on May 9, 2018 at 1:44:32 am

Thanks for the video. I'll have to workflow test this for an upcoming project. Another editor and I were going to get up to give X a shot because of the fast export times, but if the PPro tests come back this fast on my end too then we'll just stick with PPro (which we both know).


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