A Glimpse of the Future

Posted on by Larry

Today, Apple announced its new tablet – the iPad. Which is great for watching videos, but not so great at creating them. For that, we still need laptops and tower computers.

With that in mind, I’m up in San Jose, CA, this week in a series of meetings with Adobe about all kinds of interesting stuff.

During the course of our conversations, I learned a couple of things that I wanted to share with you.

First, Adobe made the decision that all their future applications will be 64-bit only. For Mac users, this means that this will require hardware that can run OS X 10.6. Fortunately, Apple has made 64-bit support simple by building it into the OS. If you can run Snow Leopard, you are all set.

For PC users, the issue is more complex. 64-bit means that you need to buy a 64-bit-capable system. However, many less expensive PC computers on the market today are only 32-bit. This means that whenever Adobe releases new software, it won’t even install on these 32-bit systems; even if you bought it recently.

(Note: This also means that new Adobe software won’t install on Macs that can’t run Snow Leopard; which includes all non-Intel/Macs and anyone not running at least OS X 10.6.)

As a side note, the reason that 64-bit support is so important is that it provides support for vast – and I mean truly HUGE – RAM memory. Currently, 32-bit systems, like Leopard, only allow an application to access 4 GB of RAM. 64-bit systems allow applications to directly access HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of TERABYTES! Sheesh….!

The second big benefit of 64-bit support, according to Adobe, is that applications run much faster because they need to access the hard disk much less frequently.

Better speed and performance are both good things in my book!

A second new technology that Adobe is talking about publicly is what they call the Mercury Playback Engine. Currently, this runs only in Adobe Premiere Pro and what it provides is blazingly fast performance for video editing.

The Mercury engine works in both software and hardware. And, using just the software engine, its pretty interesting.

However, when you add hardware, the speed explodes into almost frightening performance. The key point, though, is that the playback engine is optimized for NVIDIA graphics cards. (Meaning that ATI graphics cards are not supported.)

When you connect an NVIDIA graphics card to your system, performance is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Real-time multi-camera playback of four native RED 4K files. Real-time color correction with multiple filters applied to the same clip. Real-time editing of native AVCHD video, no transcoding required.

Adobe tells me that when assisted by an NVIDIA card, Premiere Pro operates 50-100 TIMES faster than it does in software alone.

At this point, both of these are technology demos. Current versions of Adobe Production Premium don’t support these features. However, as you are planning your hardware purchases for the year, you might want to keep these thoughts in mind.

Currently, Final Cut Studio does not support 64-bit memory addressing, nor does it support hardware acceleration (Motion does, but the other applications do not).

Adobe is giving us just a glimpse of what we can look forward to later this year. Hopefully, Apple will follow suit.

One other note. Next generation Adobe software will also be multicore aware. This means that the more processors you have in your system, the faster the software will run. This, too, is something Final Cut Studio does not currently support.

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