HP 12-core Z800 Test Drive, Part 1
Mar 24, 2010 12:00 PM, By Jan Ozer
I had one long, single-camera AVCHD shoot, a 53-minute concert performance by a local singer. As with other projects with H.264 source material, the 8-core Z800 simply stopped working, so I threw those scores out.
When producing an MPEG-2 file, the older-style xw8600 took 57 percent longer than the new 12-core Z800. Rendering the same project to 720p H.264 took astonishingly long on both computers, but only 41 percent slower on the xw8600. For my preview test, I previewed a 5-minute clip with color correction applied, which proved 9 percent slower on the older system.
These results tend to confirm that there is some bottleneck in Premiere Pro's AVCHD processing, which probably comes as no surprise to anyone who's worked with AVCHD on Premiere Pro, particularly on a 32-bit system. Discussing my test results with some industry sources, I heard anecdotally that Premiere Pro's AVCHD decoder is either single-threaded, or not particularly well optimized for multiple-processor systems.
DVCPRO HD tests
I primarily produce in DV, HDV and AVCHD, so I have only synthetic projects for other formats. For DVCPRO HD, I created two test sequences: the first a 1-minute clip with greenscreen Dynamic-Linked in from Adobe After Effects, a logo overlay, and a spinning picture-in-picture effect; the other a simple 10-minute render with color correction.
While the performance difference between the two Z800s in the first test was gratifying, the xw8600 certainly held its own in both tests.
I then created two preview scenarios. One was a preview of the 30-second greenscreen that was included in the short project. Here, the older Z800 finally caved for good, so I have no results, while the xw8600 took 61 percent longer than the 12-core Z800.
To round out the test projects a bit, I built a fancy 4-minute project with one background clip and four picture-in-picture layers and previewed that, and the xw8600 proved a significant 147 percent slower. If you're building multilayer DVCPRO HD projects on an older Xeon architecture, you can count on Nehalem providing a significant performance boost.
My last synthetic tests involved the Red Digital Cinema Red One camera. Here, on a 1:31 project, the xw8600 was 27 percent slower when producing a full-resolution MPEG-2 file, and 62 percent slower when previewing a 30-second chroma key segment using Premiere Pro's native chroma key filter (rather than After Effects).
So that's it. A bit scattered, but hopefully some data that's relevant to your editing format and style. Next time, I'm back with results from streaming encoding tools.
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