With the introduction of the Mercury Graphic Engine, Adobe Photoshop CS6 makes greater use of your computer’s graphics processor, or GPU, making complex graphical calculations run a lot faster. But why is this?
In a nutshell, Central Processing Units (CPUs) are general purpose chips designed to cope with any task. A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is a specialist processor built for maths- intensive calculations such as those involved in graphics rendering and video editing. When an application requires a lot of this sort of work, it uses the GPU to do the heavy lifting.
The GPU is faster at these sort of tasks because of the way it’s designed. While a typical CPU might have four to eight cores, which work in parallel to spread computing tasks more efficiently, a GPU might have hundreds of smaller cores, all designed to crunch through data sent to it by the CPU. This allows it to break down maths-intensive jobs and process them much faster, so their applications run quicker.
Adobe has added GPU acceleration to several existing Photoshop features. For example, the Liquify plug-in, which lets you ‘smear’ an image like dragging your finger across a still-wet oil painting, is now much smoother. Using CS5, the image updated only gradually, and brush sizes were limited to 1500 pixels.
In the preview versions of CS6 the update is instant, even with brushes around 10 times the size. That’s the power of the GPU.
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