Laurel: I'd agree that there is likely an either/or sort of setup on that display card somewhere...
As far as the GPU acceleration is concerned, Adobe supports NVIDIA CUDA, and actually only 'certifies' a few cards...principally the pro (Quadro) cards. They have the support for pro users and the models don't change nearly as often as more consumer-targeted cards so they can be tested and verified without worrying that in two weeks there will be a model upgrade or a configuration change.
The text file change noted in the later post only works on NVIDIA cards. As far as I know, there is no way officially or unofficially to lean on a Radeon card for effects preview in Mercury...it's been built for CUDA, so for the moment at least, it's an NVIDIA thing.
Performance: it depends on the CPU...and the drives...and what codec you're using...and what effects you're employing as well. The NVIDIA GPU picks up the effects preview, the CPU cores handle the video decode. High complexity footage like AVCHD or RED Raw takes some CPU power to decode in order to hand off frames to the GPU. It's a joint effort. If the CPU can only decode four streams of whatever it is you're editing, the fact that the Quadro card COULD be handling eight streams has no bearing on what you'll be running. Frankly, I don't know who runs 8 streams of video simultaneously. Some of these demos remind me of the video track counting days in DV editing...a pointless exercise. I get several tracks in almost anything I edit (with the exception of RED 4K RAW) with my several years-old AMD dual-dual core system and the Quadro 4800 picks up a TON of effects on the two or three streams that I typically handle at one time...max.
...and yes, NVIDIA makes chipsets, but they also make display boards...really strong display boards. Hence the product featured...the Quadro cards.
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