NVIDIA Quadro CX Review and Adobe CS4 GPU Acceleration
Adobe Photoshop CS4 GPU Acceleration
Adobe Photoshop CS4 takes advantage of the power of the GPU to work with images in a way that wasn't really possible on standard CPUs before but creating a "digital canvas" that is interactive. When working with very large and high resolution images in Photoshop, system memory is often the limiting factor, and by using the GPU and its extremely high memory bandwidth architecture Adobe is able to dramatically change how some features interact with the user. While standard CPUs work with memory in a very sequential fashion (even the new triple-channel Core i7 from Intel) GPUs are used to working with massively parallel datasets in very large chunks lending themselves well to image manipulation.
NVIDIA's Quadro CX allows for features like real-time image rotation, zooming and panning, all in a very smooth and progressive fashion. The software also uses the GPU hardware for removing the very common aliasing artifacts (jaggies) in non-standard zoom steppings.
While impressive, none of these are really "benchmark-capable" changes to the system even though they are VERY important to real-world usage of the application. What I decided to do for my Photoshop CS4 testing was to provide you with some videos of the new features at work and then describe them to you below in text. I think you'll find that new features and improvements are really quite impressive.
To enable these features in Adobe Photoshop CS4, go into the Performance section of the Preferences window and make sure that "Enabled OpenGL Drawing" is enabled.
Test 1: Bird's Eye Zoom Tool
The "Birds Eye View" feature in Photoshop CS4 allows the user to quickly zoom out of an already zoomed-in image in order move position on the image and revert back to the zoomed-in level in a different area. In previous versions, and without OpenGL GPU acceleration, a user would either have to use a thumbnail in the corner to see find a new zoom section or just guess based on their zoomed-in view.
Click to Download PSbirdseye.wmv video - 6.4MB / 00:39
Test 2: Pan and Rotate
The new "flick pan" feature for Photoshop could be seen as merely a fluff feature and I would tend to agree - it reminds more of the iPhone than of anything that would be THAT much more useful than the standard pan feature. Regardless, you can use the hand tool to "toss" the image around the screen in real-time. This video also shows off the rotate tool that I'll discuss below.
Test 3: Split screen Rotate
On the right panel when you attempt to use the same tool, you are met with a message indicating that the feature is unavailable without OpenGL enabled performance. I then set out to use the much more common rotate tool for Photoshop and attempt to rotate the 20k x 20k pixel image by 43 degrees to the right and am met with a VERY LONG WAIT... So long in fact that I didn't bother recording it all the way.
This is definitely a feature that could potentially offer dramatic time savings for professionals that work with files this size on a regular basis.
Test 4: Split screen zooming
The zooming function changes a bit when used with the OpenGL accelerated CS4 model as well. No longer will you see stuttering or preview lags during operation but instead with the power of the GPU the software is able to offer a smooth, and fast, zoom for files of all sizes.
Our final video doesn't really show anything different in terms of features but does offer a good overview of how quickly you can manipulate and move around in a large file very quickly with the power of a GPU behind Adobe Photoshop CS4.