There’s probably a number of us out there that are using Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS6 to edit video for indy level and zero budget projects; and as that usually implies there’s 0 budget for a professional graphics solution to get things flying. Fortunately while it’s not supported by default in Premiere, most Nvidia gaming class cards, i.e. the GeForce line, can be used for CUDA workloads.
The default list of supported cards can be found in the cuda_supported_cards.txt file in your Premiere Pro directory. Officially CS6 supports only the cards in that list, and while there’s no guarantee it will work, so long as your card is at least a GeForce 200 series or newer, it should support the necessary processing to accelerate GPU enabled effects.
Unfortunately AMD card owners, need not bother. So far as I can tell, the GPU processing in CS6 and Creative Cloud isn’t written in a way to support AMD cards at least on Windows.
Enabling GPU Acceleration The Easy Way for Premiere Pro CS6
In a move I never would have believed, thanks to Danny in the comments, I’m updating this for an even easier way to implement GPU acceleration in Premiere Pro. It turns out, you don’t actually have to add your card to cuda_supported_cards.txt file, you can simply delete-or rename it if you want to keep the original-and Premiere will assume your card is supported and enable CUDA.
I can confirm that this method works for me as I’ve renamed my cuda_supported_cards.txt to cuda_supported_cards.txt.bak and Premiere will happily start up and provide CUDA acceleration.
If this method doesn’t work for you, then you will want to use the following procedure to add your card to the cuda_supported_cards.txt.
Enabling GPU Acceleration in Premiere CS6 for Unlisted Cards
Notice: Like my usual computer related articles, I assume a certain proficiency with using your computer (whether it be Windows or Mac OS). If you lack that level of proficiency, I suggest finding a friend or colleague who can follow these instructions.
Start by using the GPUSniffer.exe provided with Premiere to get the device name for your card. This is probably a bit redundant, as the device name is pretty obvious if you know what you installed, but it’s probably a good idea to double check what Adobe is expecting.
The GPUSniffer is a command line tool (you’ll need to run it from the cmd prompt) in the Premiere Pro directory; for example, C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, for Premiere Pro CS6.
The program will spit out something that looks like the following image.
What you’re looking for is what’s listed where it says “Name” under “GPU Computation Info”. Copy that, and paste it into the end of the file
cuda_supported_cards.txt. Premiere appears to be case sensitive and picky about capitalization; the text must be capitalized exactly the same way it appears in the GPUSniffer output or Premiere won’t detect your card.
Save the text file, and that’s it; CUDA support should be available next time you start Premiere.
If you’re running Windows 7, you’ll need administrator permissions to do so and the easiest way to get around that if you didn’t open the text file with them is to save the file to your desktop and then copy it back to the Premiere Pro folder.
You can double check that you’re running the CUDA engine and rendering things on your GPU a couple of ways.
First, in Premiere Pro under Project -> Settings -> General the video Render should now read “Mercury Playback engine GPU Accelerated”.
Secondly you can download a program like GPU-Z which can monitor and display GPU loads and watch that while playing GPU accelerated clips. By the way, GPU accelerated clips will be covered by a little yellow bar (instead of green, for rendered, or red, for un-rendered) in the time line.
All this said, keep in mind that unsupported GPUs are not a free ticket to ride. Non Quadro cards still won’t be able to accelerate Speed Grade and this workaround doesn’t exist for it. Also remember that running in this configuration isn’t supported by Adobe. Best case, if you run into a problem some kind soul may unofficially help you. Worst, case you’ll have to deactivate the GPU accelerated render until you fork over the cash for a Quadro. Finally, there may be quality issues related to rendering on consumer graphics cards that don’t occur on the professional ones due to variances in hardware.
In short, getting Premiere Pro running on a consumer grade GPU is a great trick for an indy or 0-budget production, but it comes with the potential costs of having things just not work and not being able to get official help for it.
Q: I added my card to the cuda_supported_cards.txt file, but it doesn’t work?
A: Make sure the card name is spelled and capitalized exactly like it is in the output from gpusniffer.exe.
Q: How do I copy text from the command prompt?
A: Select the text using the mouse like you normally would, then right click to copy the text to the clipboard.
Q: Is there a similar solution for After Effects?
A: Yes, you can add your card to ray_tracer_supportedcards.txt in the After Effects folder, and After Effects will accelerate ray tracing operations with your GPU.
Q: Does deleting the After Effects ray_tracer_supportedcards.txt file work the same as it does with Premiere Pro’s cuda_supported_cards.txt?
A: No, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Q: What versions of Premiere Pro does this work for?
A: I’ve personally done this in both CS5.5 and CS6. It’s been confirmed to me that the same procedure applies to Creative Cloud as well.
Q: Will enabling CUDA support speed up my export times?
A: That depends. While Premiere Pro uses CUDA acceleration while exporting if it’s available, there are some limitations to what the GPU can accelerate and when it will be used. The big caveats are that GPU can only accelerate effects that support GPU acceleration. These are indicated in the effects panel by the GPU accelerated icon. If you’re using effects that can’t be GPU accelerated, then your export times won’t improve. Moreover, the GPU isn’t used for compressing the rendered video, so the usual limitations of say h.264 compression speeds will apply. For a more in depth look at export performance, you may be interested in my article looking at the performance aspects of exporting in Premiere Pro.