Santa Clara (CA) – GPU acceleration is one of the most significant trends in today hardware industry, opening the doors to an entirely new class of software. It appears that the next Photoshop will be one of the first mainstream applications that will tap into the GPU for a speed up. And, at least from what we have seen during a first demonstration, the progress is simply stunning.
We have been saying it for a while now, mainstream applications need GPU acceleration to ring in the next major evolutionary step in software development. Far too long we have been stuck in a cycle of programming that relies on increasing clock-speeds, brings acceleration with new CPUs and a slow-down with new software releases. Even if Photoshop supports multi-core CPUs, it is one of those applications that always are very time intensive to use and especially if you are a professional user and work with huge images, then you are very familiar with "The Great Wait", which typically describes the time lost when opening a big file or when applying a filter.
But there appears to be a very effective solution on the horizon, a solution that is most likely more effective than anything else we have seen before and in our experience using Photoshop over the past 14 years. During a demonstration at Nvidia's headquarters in Santa Clara, we got a glimpse of Adobe's "Creative Suite Next" (or CS4), code-named "Stonehenge", which adds GPU and physics support to its existing multi-core support.
So, what can you do with general-purpose GPU (GPGPU) acceleration in Photoshop? We saw the presenter playing with a 2 GB, 442 megapixel image like it was a 5 megapixel image on an 8-core Skulltrail system. Changes made through image zoom and through a new rotate canvas tool were applied almost instantly. Another impressive feature was the import of a 3D model into Photoshop, adding text and paint on a 3D surface and having that surface directly rendered with the 3D models' reflection map.
There was also a quick demo of a Photoshop 3D accelerated panorama, which is one of the most time-consuming tasks within Photoshop these days. The usability provided through the acceleration capabilities is enormous and we are sure that digital artists will appreciate the ability to work inside a spherical image and fix any artifacts on-the-fly.
According to information we were given, all of these new features are part of the next-gen Photoshop, which should be a part of the "CS Next" suite. The package is expected to be released on October 1.