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Hacking CS5 For Cheaper Acceleration

Adobe CS5: 64-bit, CUDA-Accelerated, And Threaded Performance
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Rather than conjecture about why a given state of affairs might exist between Adobe and Nvidia, we’ll simply state the facts. When CS5 arrived in April 2010, it featured limited acceleration capabilities with CUDA provided you were using one of the five supporting Nvidia GPUs:

  • Quadro FX 5800
  • Quadro FX 4800
  • Quadro FX 3800
  • Quadro CX
  • GeForce GTX 285


You don’t need the keenest powers of deduction to figure out that the limitation here is one of driver configuration, not hardware. The only architectural difference between the GeForce GTX 285 and the 280 is that the former is based on a 55 nm fab process while the latter uses a 65 nm process. For that matter, the GTX 285 arrived in early 2009, over a year before CS5. 

Admittedly, the GTX 470 and 480 didn’t start shipping until April of this year, essentially concurrent with the CS5 launch. That probably wasn’t enough time for Adobe to validate the 400-series parts for the CS5 launch, so it fell back on the one and only 55 nm part from the prior flagship generation, just for the sake of having at least one consumer part to list alongside those Quadro SKUs, which are what professionals tend to use and what fetches Nvidia a lot more margin. Since then, however, Patch 5.0.2 added GeForce GTX 470, Quadro 4000, and Quadro 5000 support to the existing list.

Hardly a month after CS5 launched, a how-to-hack-CS5 tutorial hit the Web detailing how to unlock the GPU acceleration capabilities of pretty much any CUDA-enabled GeForce card within the Windows version of CS5. We tried it with our GeForce GTX 470 and 480 cards, and it works like a champ on both. To save you the trouble of searching for the process, here it is in a few easy steps:

1. Locate the GPUsniffer.exe file in your system. This will likely be located under C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Premiere Pro CS5GPUSniffer.exe. Run CMD from the search bar, then execute the GPUSniffer.exe command. Under “CUDA device details,” you’ll see your GPU noted. Write this down exactly as it appears listed, including all spaces and upper/lowercase distinctions.

2. Run the Windows Notepad app with Administrator privileges. From the Start menu, within Accessories, right-click on Notepad and select Run as administrator. Use Notepad to open the file cuda_supported_cards.txt from the same Premiere Pro CS5 folder as in step 1. Add your GPU to the short list of existing Nvidia GPUs, then resave the file with the same name in the same location.

3. Right-click on the Windows desktop and run the Nvidia Control Panel. Under Manage 3D Settings, go to the Program Settings tab. In the “Select a program to customize” pull-down, select Adobe Premiere CS4. (Yes, you may actually be running CS5. Apparently, the driver doesn’t know the difference. Or it’s a typo. Either way, it works.) Under “Specify the settings for this program,” scroll down to “Multi-display/mixed-GPU acceleration” and select Compatibility performance mode. Click Apply.

As of this writing, Nvidia has slightly expanded its official list of supported desktop solutions for CS5:

  • Quadro 5000
  • Quadro 4000
  • Quadro FX 5800
  • Quadro FX 4800
  • Quadro FX 4800 Mac
  • Quadro FX 3800
  • GeForce GTX 470
  • GeForce GTX 285

Obviously, if you want to use a GPU not listed here, the CUDA/CS5 hack won’t be officially supported by vendor techs if you need help.

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