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Old March 19th, 2018, 09:30 PM   #1
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What Graphics Card for HEVC processing on the 2012 Mac Pro?

High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2, is a compression standard being used on some new cams. It almost seems like it was almost yesterday that 4K was the way forward and now HEVC is catching on. So what is a person supposed to do if selecting a new cam?

And it isnít just the cam, itís the whole chain including the computer, application, and monitor. Itís bad enough throwing a couple thousand at a new cam but to have to get a new computer too? Thatís crazy because they cost a bundle too. We arenít talking pocket change here.

If one gets a new cam that puts out 8-bit cam like the Sony HXR-NX80, what does the future hold? Just 4K and a Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) version of HDR? Is there any chance Sony might provide at a later date an upgrade path to 10-bit? Or should one just get a 10-bit capable cam to begin with?

Then the next problem is what computer to edit with. Currently I have a 2012 Mac Pro which has a lot of capability for upgrades; however, so far Iíve been unable to find an ďout of-the-boxĒ (OTB) drop-in graphics card for it. Thee are several solutions but they are all kinda ďmessyĒ (no boot screen, code hacking, and the like) and work intensive. Some users appear to have found workable solutions while others apparently going down the same path have found stumbling blocks. I hate stumbling blocks! And doubly so if they are expensive.

Looking at the options I see:
1. To heck with HLG for now and just get the NX80 and do 4K [Note: I just sold my AX100 in order to get the NX80],
2. Get the NX80 and do 4K for now and hope some day Sony might release a firmware update for 10-bit,
3. Do a post and hope some savior comes to the rescue with a good upgrade path for the Mac Pro, (preferably and OTB one!),
4. Spring for wasting $500 on the ENG Z90 for which I donít need anything extra it has to offer except for the 10-bit, assuming there is a solution for item #3. [Note: That extra $500 would be very, very tough to swallow]

At this point I really wish I hadnít been so rash and sold the AX100 because 4K still has a way to go but the smaller HLG file size is a selling point. NAB is right around the corner so maybe something else might come up? I do still have the really nice AX53, and lets not forget the iPhone, so it isnít like Iím ďCamless in SeattleĒ. This is a bummer position to be in so any thoughts out there?

Especially, and this is the main question at the moment: What Graphics Card for HEVC processing on the 2012 Mac Pro?
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Old March 21st, 2018, 01:12 AM   #2
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Re: What Graphics Card for HEVC processing on the 2012 Mac Pro?

Honestly, buy a cheap desktop PC for HEVC transcoding. I am actually looking at updating the innards of an old Win 10 backup PC I have (circa 2012!) with a brand new Intel 8th generation i3-8100. Why an i3? The new 8th Gen CPU's have UHD 630 iGPU's with a separate and dedicated Intel Quick Sync HEVC encoding/decoding core. By separate ad independent, that means it's a special core unrelated to the other 4 cores the new i3 has, just for processing video coding. As a matter of fact, even the Pentium CPU's get the same UHD 630 iGPU and Quick Sync. The only marginal differences will be in the clock speed of the iGPU, but they seem to be within 200MHz or less. If you want to get really cheap, the 7th Gen i3's and Pentiums have the HD 630 iGPU, but the exact same Quick Sync version as the 8th Gen, meaning the same 10 bit HEVC HDR transcoding capability. My 6th Gen i7-6700k is one version behind, meaning no 10 bit HEVC compatibility, just 8 bit.

Core i3-8100 runs $115 new, add $90 at Newegg for a brand new Z370 MB, and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. My Handbrake eats about 6GB's on my 8GB system software transcoding 10 bit HEVC files at 10 frames a second. For non HDR service, my 7th Gen Quicksync spits out 8 bit HEVC at 40 frames a second...both using Ultrafast preset, which if you run it at 50% the bitrate of the XAVC files going into it, results in virtually indistinguishable copies for YouTube upload. Start to get really file size stingy, and you may want to move to a slower setting for better compression.

The 8th gen i3 got 4 cores vs the 7th gen i3 which was 2 core...so you would end up having a more usable PC for whatever else you'd want a PC for. Copies of indows 10 are on eBay (the key) for $5. I gave up on "send to compressor" on my 2.8GHz AMD r370X 2015 Macbook Pro, because I was dealing with roughly 0.5 frames per second render speeds...unusable

Paul
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Old March 21st, 2018, 01:14 AM   #3
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Re: What Graphics Card for HEVC processing on the 2012 Mac Pro?

Oh yeah, Handbrake happily accepts ProRes from a Mac for HDR r SDR transcoding to h264 or HEVC. :)

Paul
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Old March 29th, 2018, 05:17 PM   #4
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Re: What Graphics Card for HEVC processing on the 2012 Mac Pro?

Paul - thanks very much for your detailed reply. After reading it and your other posts on this subject I'm really feel down after having sold the AX100. Should have kept it a while longer until all this gets sorted out with a less expensive HEVC eco system.

The cam is one thing but then one needs the computer capable of processing the media, and very important, without an arduous workflow system, it quickly becomes a deal breaker. I really like my Mac Pros and don't really want to give 'em up. Think I jumped the gun on this one ....

It's not a crisis, yet. Well ... guess I'm just in denial mode.
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Old April 9th, 2018, 01:56 AM   #5
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Re: What Graphics Card for HEVC processing on the 2012 Mac Pro?

Threadripper is a great transcoding system. You generally want to avoid hardware encoding cause it doesn't have explicit GOP frames like P or B frames. They vary greatly.

x265 on Threadripper is a better way forward. Handbrake also "says" you can specify an output framerate, but in reality always chooses variable frame rate with the one you specify as the target frame rate. This causes really bad frame stutter in some NLEs. Straight up using FFmpeg negates variable framerate oddities.
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