Photoshop to get GPU and physics acceleration

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.

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From John Nack on "Oct. 1" (aka, "Just make something up")
"I didn't say anything about schedule. In fact, I never said that any of this stuff is promised to go into any particular version of Photoshop. Rather, as with previous installments, it's a technology demonstration of some things we've got cooking--nothing more."

In terms of GPU acceleration *generally speaking* Photoshop is far from the first mainstream app to use the GPU. Flash Player, Final Cut Studio, and Java SE all use GPU acceleration for graphics functions. Now, if Adobe is actually doing a significant amount of GPUPU calculations -- that is, really programming custom code for the GPU -- that would be a different matter. But it sounds as though at least some of what they're doing is traditional GPU graphics stuff.

As for the Mac GPUs, the only issue I'd see is the MacBook / mini line with their weak integrated Intel chipset. And Apple has already failed to certify those machines for Final Cut Studio as a result. But even there, the trend is toward integrated GPUs possibly being even faster than "dedicated" chips down the road. So there's definitely a lot more coming on your GPU.

wow thats awesome

i dont use or cant even afford photoshop
but its good to see software making use of a gpu

thank goodness, this is a long time coming. it'll also be a good reason to force IT to upgrade my license, cheap jerks...

Yeah, and I'm pretty confident that Adobe has a lot more engineers than the Pixelmator Team. And a lot more employees. And a lot more time to plan stuff. And a lot more serious meetings.

Sorry, it was time for my Adobe rant.

Pixelmator is simply using CoreImage and other facilities provided by OS X. They are nice and pretty powerful. But Adobe will be developing their own code because their color demands and features are much more robust -- much larger files as one example. Also, Adobe will be developing its own code so that they can make a common code base portable across platforms. Pixelmator looks good on the surface but can't really be used for real work yet. And will be always tied to features exposed by OS X.

(PsykX said @ #6.1)
Yeah, and I'm pretty confident that Adobe has a lot more engineers than the Pixelmator Team. And a lot more employees. And a lot more time to plan stuff. And a lot more serious meetings.

Sorry, it was time for my Adobe rant.

And yet, if you've ever had the curse of needing to use their InDesign SDKs, you'd wonder if more engineers and more employees is really the case... Adobe must hate their developers- big time.

Older versions of PS already have GPU optimization but you can barely tell the difference. I hope this one will take, if not full, advantage of a decent video card. I mean c'mon, nobody wants to spend 500$ only for gaming.

Crazy, last week Adobe was all over the news bitching about all the misinformation floating online about using ppu/gpu acceleration for rendering (saying it was too impractical).

Trustworthy?

Interesting indeed.

I definitely feel this is a great and logical step, however everyone knows Mac's are not known for their high end GPU's in most of their standard configurations.
Sure, you can upgrade your GPU, but up until this point I never had to do so.
Then again even though I use Photoshop daily, it is not for print, and I avoid using filters like the plague, but still it sounds as if the affect on things will be across the board.
Looks like in one small regard, my times, they are a changing... And it appears without any doubt for the better.

While this would help things performance wise, wouldn't they also be helped better if they just supported multi-threading better anyways? They did improve performance from CS2 to CS3, but still, does it even fully use dual or quad core CPUs? I have to say no.

This almost feels like a "Plan B" move to me. I dunno, maybe I'm wrong.

(GP007 said @ #2.1)
While this would help things performance wise, wouldn't they also be helped better if they just supported multi-threading better anyways? They did improve performance from CS2 to CS3, but still, does it even fully use dual or quad core CPUs? I have to say no.

This almost feels like a "Plan B" move to me. I dunno, maybe I'm wrong.

Right now in CS3, while you're working on an image, the GPU doesn't need to do anything but display it, so it's mostly just sitting there. Operations are CPU bound. We offload some of that work to the GPU for a couple reasons. First, the GPU is incredibly good at it, since it is highly optimized for this type of processing. Second, this frees up a lot of CPU time to do things the GPU can't or won't.