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Then And Now: Adobe Photoshop And WinZip

Better With Time? The A8-3870 And Pentium G630, One Year Later
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If you're interested in how some ISVs have exposed support for graphics-oriented APIs in their productivity software, check out Can OpenGL and OpenCL Overhaul Your Photo Editing Experience?, which digs into the details. Today's story is geared towards mainstream users and is primarily based on our standard benchmark suite. Over the course of the last year, a handful of our go-to tests were updated to exploit hardware able to leverage OpenGL and OpenCL support. Photoshop and WinZip are two of them.

Adobe Photoshop CS6

Adobe's Photoshop is one of the most highly-regarded image editing apps. The latest version, part of Creative Suite 6 (CS6), now supports GPU acceleration through its Mercury Graphics Engine (MGE). However, the implementation is limited to a few new filters and features. Adobe realized this through OpenGL and OpenCL, making a comparison to older versions of the software impossible. It also means that any OpenCL/OpenGL-capable hardware will give you access to acceleration.

The supported functions are indeed pretty useful, and utilizing them simply requires a driver update. This is a short list of the accelerated filters:

  • Adaptive wide angle
  • Liquify
  • Oil paint
  • Wart, puppet warp
  • Field blur, iris blur, tilt/shift
  • Lighting effects gallery
  • New 3D enhancements


Most of the features require Windows Vista or Windows 7, and at least 512 MB of graphics memory may be required, too. This isn't Adobe's first effort to accelerate certain operations within Photoshop. Check out this Adobe forum thread for more details. The thread also provides troubleshooting information.

WinZip 16.5

An overhaul of Corel's most recent version finally takes better advantage of threading, whereas old builds were fairly poorly threaded. For the first time in a long time, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade if you're a loyal WinZip user (at least from a performance perspective).

This latest version also employs OpenCL support on certain AMD-based graphics engines. This doesn't mean CPU performance gets deemphasized, though. In AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition Review: Give Me Back That Crown!, we dug deeper into WinZip's behavior, discovering that switching on OpenCL put more stress on the CPU, but barely touched the graphics resources. We asked Corel for an explanation, and received the following:

"Our algorithm dynamically uses OpenCL acceleration on files that will benefit from it, continuing to use the CPU cores for files that are processed faster on the CPU. GPU acceleration leverages the CPU to prepare files for compression. Operating in parallel, our GPU acceleration will enable the CPU to process files much faster (as the GPU completes compression and encryption tasks that the CPU starts), and so it is normal to see an increase in both CPU and GPU utilization when OpenCL is enabled. Depending on the file set you are using for your tests you’ll see varying degrees of GPU acceleration."

Our workload is actually a mix of large and small files, though it's possible that we'd see more speed-up, as a percentage, on lower-end CPUs, rather than the Sandy Bridge-E-based chips that are already overkill for such a task. The bottom line is that enabling OpenCL has a profound impact on speed.

Similarly, the Pentium enjoys a boost. Its two cores don't scale quite as well, though. And because Corel has yet to enable OpenCL support for Intel-based platforms in WinZip, its improvement isn't as pronounced.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    blazorthon , September 10, 2012 5:14 AM
    hapaxogcWhy not compare the AMD to the new Pentium G2120?


    That probably wasn't out when this review was in the works.
  • 18 Hide
    DjEaZy , September 10, 2012 9:54 AM
    ... open standards F.T.W.!!!
  • 16 Hide
    blazorthon , September 10, 2012 5:07 AM
    Is it just me, or does every time the old systems are said to be better, the graph shows the opposite and every time the old systems are said to be worse, the graph says otherwise?
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 10, 2012 5:06 AM
    Why not compare the AMD to the new Pentium G2120?
  • 16 Hide
    blazorthon , September 10, 2012 5:07 AM
    Is it just me, or does every time the old systems are said to be better, the graph shows the opposite and every time the old systems are said to be worse, the graph says otherwise?
  • 24 Hide
    blazorthon , September 10, 2012 5:14 AM
    hapaxogcWhy not compare the AMD to the new Pentium G2120?


    That probably wasn't out when this review was in the works.
  • 4 Hide
    lahawzel , September 10, 2012 5:46 AM
    I think he was more referring to the fact that the Pentium G630 is significantly cheaper than the A8-3870K ($68 vs. $110), hence making the compared processors not on equal grounds.
  • 11 Hide
    blazorthon , September 10, 2012 6:00 AM
    LaHawzelI think he was more referring to the fact that the Pentium G630 is significantly cheaper than the A8-3870K ($68 vs. $110), hence making the compared processors not on equal grounds.


    Not if you factor in the cost of a graphics card. That card was probably omitted here because this isn't about gaming performance.
  • 12 Hide
    jezus53 , September 10, 2012 6:06 AM
    Quote:
    We used MSI’s A75MA-G55 mini-ITX motherboard...


    I think you mean Micro ATX.
  • -3 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , September 10, 2012 6:12 AM
    1. Read the Adobelink you provided.
    the Mercury Engine in CS6 does not use CUDA! Thats a big win for consumers.

    2. Even though 7zip is highly multithreaded, in real world usage, it does not scale so well. Mostly it uses 35-50% of a quad core. It can use 100% CPU in compressing one big file( > 100MB size).

    3.The reply given by Corel is complete BS. They did not even give an example of usage where winzip would use the GPU.

  • 12 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , September 10, 2012 8:38 AM
    Article page 4It comes as no surprise that most apps perform similarly in 2012 as they did in 2012.
  • 4 Hide
    ohim , September 10, 2012 8:48 AM
    mayankleoboy11. Read the Adobelink you provided.the Mercury Engine in CS6 does not use CUDA! Thats a big win for consumers.2. Even though 7zip is highly multithreaded, in real world usage, it does not scale so well. Mostly it uses 35-50% of a quad core. It can use 100% CPU in compressing one big file( > 100MB size).3.The reply given by Corel is complete BS. They did not even give an example of usage where winzip would use the GPU.

    Mercury Engine in CS 6 does use CUDA .. what the hell are you talking about there ?
  • 3 Hide
    jijibu , September 10, 2012 9:01 AM
    LaHawzelI think he was more referring to the fact that the Pentium G630 is significantly cheaper than the A8-3870K ($68 vs. $110), hence making the compared processors not on equal grounds.


    AMD has way more powerful GPU and it's strong in multithread operations. Besides those facts, AMD has good overclocking potential :) 
  • 6 Hide
    alidan , September 10, 2012 9:27 AM
    ohimMercury Engine in CS 6 does use CUDA .. what the hell are you talking about there ?


    probably meant cuda exclusively anymore.
  • 18 Hide
    DjEaZy , September 10, 2012 9:54 AM
    ... open standards F.T.W.!!!
  • 3 Hide
    ojas , September 10, 2012 12:14 PM
    mayankleoboy11. Read the Adobelink you provided.the Mercury Engine in CS6 does not use CUDA! Thats a big win for consumers.2. Even though 7zip is highly multithreaded, in real world usage, it does not scale so well. Mostly it uses 35-50% of a quad core. It can use 100% CPU in compressing one big file( > 100MB size).3.The reply given by Corel is complete BS. They did not even give an example of usage where winzip would use the GPU.

    1. It does. Not supporting it would have been a loss for consumers (yes i support open standards too, but at least there's some competition this way. Software should support both imo). anyway link: http://www.nvidia.com/object/adobe-cs6.html

    2. I've seen my CPU use well over that, 80-100%, yes it's a quad core. Depends on your settings, probably, and the files being compressed. I use tweaked "ultra" level compression with LZMA2.

    3. Don't know what to think. No examples, yes, but seemed to be an adequate response. Giving them a benefit of doubt.

    @article:

    Yeah i guess the authors are right...it's already swimming through my head, that if the difference in the price is $40, you'd expect to see this kind of performance delta...then again cheapest Core i3 is $120 on newegg...and no point comparing another SB pentium because you'll get similar results.

    Probably you guys will have to do this again with the G2120! :p 
  • 2 Hide
    rootheday , September 10, 2012 12:15 PM
    why are you using drivers from the beginning of 2012 for this comparison instead of current drivers. For example, why 15.22.54 graphics driver for the Intel system? Sandybridge based Pentiums are supported on the 15.26.12.2761 drivers dated 7/11/2012 and also on the 15.28.0.2792 drivers (which add Win8 support).
  • 9 Hide
    CaedenV , September 10, 2012 12:15 PM
    go AMD! I don't think this speaks much to their hardware division, but speaks volumes about their marketing department, and the company's willingness to work with software companies in promoting open standards (which they take the best advantage of). Definitely a lesson learned from their dealings with nVidia locking them out of the professional market for so many years.

    That being said, this is hardly a fair comparison. A $70 part vs a $110 part is not much comparison at all. Throw a $60 GPU with openCL support and I would love to see how these stack up then.
  • 8 Hide
    ojas , September 10, 2012 12:19 PM
    Oh and, BTW. AMD may have just played a trump card here, going with OpenCL and GPGPU computing. What they couldn't do with raw performance, they've done with smart optimization. The future is perhaps Fusion, below the i5s and i7s at least.
  • 1 Hide
    ojas , September 10, 2012 12:25 PM
    Though i dunno. If Intel push this same concept against ARM...AMD is non-existent in the SoC space, afaik.
  • 11 Hide
    CaedenV , September 10, 2012 12:27 PM
    This is why people don't buy new computers. why buy a new machine, when it gets faster over time with OS and software upgrades? Truly this is a strange paradigm compared to the previous 20 years of software always getting bigger and slower. Now software gets more feature-full as well as faster with updates. What a world we live in.
  • -8 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , September 10, 2012 12:55 PM
    how about slapping together a few hunderd ARM cores on a PCIE card, add a x86 to ARM binary converter, and you have a sooper fast co-processor.

    Wait, thats what Intel MIC is
  • 5 Hide
    blazorthon , September 10, 2012 12:56 PM
    mayankleoboy1how about slapping together a few hunderd ARM cores on a PCIE card, add a x86 to ARM binary converter, and you have a sooper fast co-processor.Wait, thats what Intel MIC is


    Intel's co-processors are not using ARM. They use simple x86 cores (based on the Pentium III if I remember correctly).
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