Adobe, the software development powerhouse behind Photoshop, Premiere, and dozens of other content creation suites, has finally embraced the power of the GPU. Amazingly, until Adobe's CS4 suite of graphics software came out this year, the company which has nearly built their empire on graphics related software, relied entirely on the system's CPU for processing. Despite major advances in the performance and infrastructure which surrounds the GPU market, Adobe's software was never written to take advantage of the newer programmable hardware. No matter how fast of a graphics card you had, nothing would make Adobe software run faster than higher clocked processors, more memory, or faster hard disks. Until now, the graphics card has been completely secondary in the Adobe world with the exception of a few custom filters, only being used for display output rather than using the graphics processor for its intended purpose, accelerating on-screen graphics.
With Adobe's newly launched Creative Suite 4, the game changes completely, and there are some pretty interesting repercussions because of this change. Many applications in Adobe's new CS4 suite, specifically Photoshop, After Effects, Acrobat, Premiere, and Bridge, are now supporting GPU acceleration. Now, adding GPU acceleration to the mix is not a cure-all for performance, and suddenly doesn't throw all of the graphics processing on to the GPU. These applications, as system intensive as they are, are still programs which work and live in a 2D world; there is very little true 3D interaction in these programs, which is typically where GPUs thrive. However, through the use of OpenGL, Adobe can effectively use your system's GPU to accelerate some 2D drawings on-screen.
If your system has a graphics processor internally (and well, at this point, it's very likely that your system does), this means that Adobe's Creative Suite 4 will run a bit snappier if you enable the OpenGL drawing / GPU acceleration features. This also means that graphics card companies can start showcasing how their individual products can help improve your Adobe CS experience, something which has been previously off-limits due to the nature of the Adobe suite. Just how much a faster GPU will help and where GPU acceleration plays into your daily Adobe workflow are the two big questions lurking--which we help to answer today.
Nvidia is betting that there is a market for Adobe CS accelerators, and their first foray into this area is what we're looking at today, the Quadro CX. This is not a daughterboard which works with your standard graphics card, this is a full-on, pro workstation graphics card which just happens to have a link with the Adobe CS suite through software for accelerating specific content types, similar to the QuadroFX for 3D content creation software. It's a new product segment which the rest of the market is still somewhat confused as to how to address, but Nvidia is taking their first step towards getting Adobe software running through their GPUs in order to run them faster. Let's see if it's paid off...