If You Don’t Know Much About GPU Expansion, You Need To Read This

by Bret HoyLeave a Comment

Have you ever edited footage that made your computer run slowly? No, don’t lie to me. I know it’s happened to you. And do you know why?

It’s because our capacity to edit ultra high resolution and high bit rate footage is dependent on our ability to upgrade our equipment as we go. This means that if you’re interested in upgrading to that 4k camera, you should consider the cost to upgrade your computer to edit that footage.

Not many of us do that.

Most of the time, we don’t even think about our computer when purchasing cameras. This makes it all the more important to consider ways to upgrade your existing systems. One of the greatest ways to quickly and efficiently increase your speed is to use a GPU Expansion box.

I’m not going to claim to know much about this stuff. I wish I did. But I feel like I’m relatively indicative of the shooting community as a whole. That means that we should keep up with computer tech in addition to camera tech.

Charles Haine from No Film School has written a great overview of the state of GPU Expansion boxes. He explains their use, why they’re important and also gives a quick breakdown of the brands that you should explore. This information could be more important than you might imagine.

What’s the Deal with GPU Expansion, Anyway?

Via No Film School:

“The most popular option for filmmakers, once we have maxed out our memory, is the GPU expander box.”

Traditionally, Macs have been harder to upgrade and PCs have been easier. While there has been some movement away from Mac lately, the Mac OS is still pretty dominant in the world of film and media.

The older Mac Pro Silver Towers offered some expandability, but the new Mac Pro Tower offers very limited options if you need more horsepower. You can increase RAM, and that's about it. You could switch to PC (many are), or, of course, consider a Hackintosh, but if you want to stay in the world of fully supported hardware and software, and you’ve committed to Mac, you’ve still got some good some options to speed up your workflow.


NVIDIA 980, an example of the type of card you might want to upgrade to. Credit: Courtesy of NVIDIA

The most popular option for filmmakers, once we have maxed out our memory, is the GPU expander box. There are two big reasons why. First, what we do is very image-intensive work, which GPUs are well designed to handle, offering a lot of bang for your buck as an upgrade.

Resolve, Adobe Creative Cloud, and many other software platforms take advantage of OpenCL to use the graphics card power for faster processing. Even Resolve, which used to rely heavily on the NVIDIA-specific CUDA platform, has worked to integrate OpenCL to such an extent that it's about equal to CUDA in processing speed, meaning you can save money with power from AMD (who acquired the Radeon brand from ATI back in 2006).

One of the nice perks of OpenCL is that more GPUs generally translated directly to faster renders; this means all the power is put to use. With CPUs, more cores can mean more power, but the program needs to be written to take advantage of it, and not all are. OpenCL optimized programs really put all the GPU power you can throw at them to work.

Read full article at No Film School “What’s the Deal with GPU Expansion, Anyway?”

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from No Film School)

Bret Hoy

Bret Hoy

Bret Hoy is a filmmaker, photographer and writer based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Mainly focused on documentary and experimental film, he has produced, directed, shot and edited many short films and a few long form works.

He shoots a lot and often.
Bret Hoy

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