This $7000 Card Does WHAT?? – Holy $H!T
PC gaming hardware is expensive, right? A Core i7 Extreme Edition: $1600. 2 Terabyte 960 Pro NVMe Drive $1,300. Two GTX Titan X PPs we got at $2,400, you add a 128 gigs of RAM, as well as a top-of-the-line motherboard, and yeah… That’ll be $6,800, please. Now, to be clear, I’m not complaining. This is a spectacularly first world problem, but pro video production gear is on a whole freakin other level. Let me put it in perspective: this one PCI Express card costs as much as all that stuff I just listed combined. All of it! This is the Red Rocket X, a state-of-the-art creation tool and simultaneously a relic of a bygone era. A $7000 coprocessor card. Welcome to Holy $H!T! [intro music] Cooler Master’s 25th anniversary Edition Cosmos 2 features a unique dual curved tempered glass side panel Check it out now at the link below. Ok so as many of you are probably aware, we moved to Red Digital cinema cameras earlier this year in an effort to bump up our production values. And I mean let’s be honest, we’re enthusiasts to give Brandon and Mack some new toys to play with. But have you ever actually tried to work with Red Code raw footage before? As Taryn would put it, it’s a nightmare! At full 8K, on a 10 core Extreme edition processor, with a $5,000 Nvidia Quadro P6000 graphics card, this is what timeline performance looks like. You see those delays as I’m scrubbing around? And even straight playback performance is abominable. It’s not like it’s our 10 gigabit network connection bottlenecking us either. We’re nowhere near saturating it. No, it’s the CPU! Even though we’re scaling across all 20 of our threads, we are still running out of processing power, and we haven’t even added any Lumetri Color, yet either. That’s only going to make matters worse. Throw that into the picture and now we are dropping about 90% of our frames, while dealing with 1/4 to 1/3 of a second delay, when we’re trying to move the playhead around on the timeline. Ridiculous! And both our CPU and GPU are basically maxed. You actually need to drop your preview quality all the way down to 1/8, in order to get what I would consider to be acceptable performance with much lower usage. True to form though, Red Digital cinema has a solution for you! Are you unhappy with your editing experience or the footage from your $50,000 camera? Buy this expansion card to accelerate it! Available now for 7,000 easy payments of only $1! Call now and we’ll throw in this… nothing! Absolutely free because we’re Red and f’ing your wallet is more than just our job, it’s our passion. But what is this thing? What does it even do? Well, we can figure out a little bit on our own. So there’s some kind of processor here that’s under 150 watts of total power consumption, based on the single slot cooler and the single six pin power connector back here. There’s some memory on board, so we can see those chips arranged around the chip here. And the dual Displayport ports are so it can actually function as a video output device. Though, our workload necessitates a powerful GPU anyway. So we won’t be using it that way. And the main purpose of this thing, anyway, is to accelerate: decoding, scaling and debayering of our 3D files. The first two, I think are fairly self-explanatory. But the last one is the process of reconstructing a full-color image from incomplete color samples that are captured by the sensor in a raw recording format. But they give us no actual details about the hardware, other than some nebulous 5x performance claim relative to their own first-generation Red Rocket. But why would this older chip based on older process node technology compare to a GPU running CUDA be better at any of that stuff. I mean Red even supports CUDA acceleration in their own Cine X desktop application. Is this thing even relevant today? So, with it installed, we throw on the latest drivers and … I don’t know. It’s kind of… it’s kind of weird. There’s no configuration utility or anything like that, but if you go into device manager, it’s working properly and everything seems fine, so all that’s left to do then, is go into our video editing software and press enable! So this is the same project that we were just looking at, and we’re going to change this “use Rocket” drop-down to all available. At full quality, my CPU is still tilt and now I’m seeing 90% GPU usage even with Lumetri color disabled. What? Okay, well now hold on just a minute here. Surely there must be something wrong Let’s try disabling the Rocket, just to see if we can get back to where we started. Now, hold on… this doesn’t make sense either. With it disabled our timeline scrubbing looks better than ever, our CPU usage is way down and even our GPU usage is under control now. But we are still dropping some frames, far fewer though. Well Red only advertises the Rocket X of being capable of handling up to 6K footage. So maybe what we’re looking at here makes sense, if somehow it’s enabled. Dropping then down to half quality in the preview window yields perfect playback without Lumetri color. Let’s check that out. Ok. And… alright turning it on… well, it looks like we are still dropping some frames in that case. But that’s probably caused then by a GPU bottleneck, because you can see our Quadro is sitting at around 80 to 85% usage. So, then finally as a last step, we drop down to 1/4 quality. And that’s looking great! Acceptable CPU and GPU usage and a much nicer looking timeline than what we were able to achieve without the Red Rocket X. But in a lot of ways, this actually raises a lot more questions than it answers. Why would disabling our add-in card give me the best possible editing experience? Is it just a snake-oil hardware key to run an improved GPU acceleration algorithm? So I actually spent a couple of weeks investigating this, because timeline performance has genuinely been an issue for us But, investing in one of these for each of our editors, would be a whopping $35,000 total and here’s what I found. First, some backup for what we already knew. Without the Red Rocket X Red Coat raw footage loves CPU cores, knocking my extreme edition down to six cores yielded dropped frames even at only one-quarter quality. But more cores only carries you so far. A 22 core Xeon like this cost more, significantly slashes single core performance, and doesn’t even approach the performance improvement from the Rocket X installed, but disabled in Premiere. So then, the ideal 8K video editing configuration is a 10 core with a Quadro and a Red Rocket X disabled, right? Maybe not. Is the Quadro at over four times the price really accelerating this process any better than a high-end Geforce card would? We’ll be moving to an HDR workflow sometime in Q4. Expect an update on that. So we need 10-bit color over Displayport, a traditional Quadro feature, but that was actually added to Geforce a while back. And the results here are fascinating. Our Titan X Pascal, despite it’s nearly identical on paper specs to our Quadro P6000, is able to use its sky high, nearly 1800 Megahertz boost clocks to reduce GPU usage, lower our drop frames and even drop CPU usage a little bit, at our target 1/4 playback quality. It even almost managed to pull off half playback quality. Both GPUs, by the way, were run with their power sliders cranked and power saving mode disabled. So then having finished running all of these numbers, I came to the same conclusion that Red support did get back and give me: Premiere is just being Premiere, disabled is enabled and enabled is borked. And as for an optimal workstation configuration, well it turns out the Rocket X does do something for users with 8k footage, even though it’s not rated for it. 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