Adobe began shipping its Creative Suite 4 (CS4) this week, and perhaps the most significant new feature from a typical Maximum PC reader's point of view is the support for GPU acceleration in Photoshop CS4 and other components, including Bridge CS4, After Effects CS4, Premiere Pro CS4, Acrobat 9, and Flash Player 10.
While NVIDIA touts its new Quadro CX GPU product line for Photoshop users, you can use existing NVIDIA and ATI GPUs with Shader Model 3.0 and Open GL 2.0 support to accelerate Photoshop and other CS4 apps. The level of OpenGL 2.0 acceleration depends upon the GPU and the amount of video RAM a particular card includes.
How much memory do you need? You need at least 128MB of video RAM to enjoy any level of acceleration. However, for best performance and results, you should have at least 256MB of video RAM, and cards with more than 512MB of RAM handle large images better. Sorry, Windows XP Professional x64 version users, there's no GPU acceleration for you.
For a list of tested cards/GPUs, see Tech Note kb405711.
If you're planning on moving to Adobe Photoshop CS4 or one of the Creative Suite 4 SKUs that includes Photoshop CS4 and you're already gaming on the same box, the good news is that most recent gamer-oriented video cards will accelerate Photoshop CS4. However, if you have a hand in choosing photo-editing hardware for the office, it's time to start loading up those systems with better GPUs as well.