Adobe turns to OpenCL rather than NVIDIA CUDA for Mercury Graphics Engine in Creative Suite 6

Adobe has just announced Creative Suite 6. CS 5.5 used the Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere Pro, which takes advantage of NVIDIA’s CUDA library in order to accelerate processing when an NVIDIA GPU is present. Just to be clear, this is not just graphics acceleration, but programming the GPU to take advantage of its many processor cores for general-purpose computing.

Premiere Pro CS6 also uses the Mercury Playback Engine, and while CUDA is still recommended there is new support for OpenCL:

The Mercury Playback Engine brings performance gains to all the GPUs supported in Adobe Creative Suite 6 software, but the best performance comes with specific NVIDIA® CUDA™ enabled GPUs, including support for mobile GPUs and NVIDIA Maximus™ dual-GPU configurations. New support for the OpenCL-based AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 6770M cards available with certain Apple MacBook Pro computers running OS X Lion (v10.7x), with a minimum of 1GB VRAM, brings GPU-accelerated mobile workflows to Mac users.

PhotoShop CS6 also uses the GPU to accelerate processing, using the new Mercury Graphics Engine. The Mercury Graphics Engine uses the OpenCL framework, which is not specific to any one GPU vendor, rather than CUDA:

The Mercury Graphics Engine (MGE) represents features that use video card, or GPU, acceleration. In Photoshop CS6, this new engine delivers near-instant results when editing with key tools such as Liquify, Warp, Lighting Effects and the Oil Paint filter. The new MGE delivers unprecedented responsiveness for a fluid feel as you work. MGE is new to Photoshop CS6, and uses both the OpenGL and OpenCL frameworks. It does not use the proprietary CUDA framework from nVidia.

It seems to me that this amounts to a shift by Adobe from CUDA to OpenCL, which is a good thing for users of non-NVIDIA GPUs.

This also suggests to me that NVIDIA will need to ensure excellent OpenCL support in its GPU cards, as well as continuing to evolve CUDA, since Creative Suite is a key product for designers using the workstations which form a substantial part of the market for high-end GPUs.

6 thoughts on “Adobe turns to OpenCL rather than NVIDIA CUDA for Mercury Graphics Engine in Creative Suite 6”

  1. Adobe’s European prices are routinely 50% higher than American prices. It’s absurd.

    Regarding OpenCL vs CUDA, I just wish everyone would standardize on any one API for GPU computing already. I don’t care which one so long as it works on all modern video cards…

  2. It’s not so much that prices are higher in Europe, but that prices are abnormally low in America. Not just software, but consumer goods of all kinds — from chocolate candy to laptop computers. And it’s not just Europe. The same laptop will cost less in the US than in China — despite being produced in China.

    It’s not surprising that Adobe opted for OpenCL. This is a company that has learned from experience how easy it is to be burned by a platform: (1) the OS X transition (2) the revitalization of Mac shortly after they shifted focus to Windows (3) enforced Cocoa-ization after the termination of the Carbon x64 port (4) the growing unease at the uncertain future of the of the Mac workstation product line.

    Besides which, Photoshop uses OpenGL. It’d be natural for Premiere to use OpenCL.

  3. @Svenbent

    The Benchmark you linked is telling the opposite of your statement. The GTX680 is far ahead in terms of comuting on that benchmark at least.
    It just takes a third of the AMD Flagship and is even faster as the Nvidia DualGPU GTX 690 – maybe SLI support isn’t that good, driversided.

    The most important thing for me, for wich i would like to have a clear answer is. Does CUDA a better job than OpenCL.
    I would like to know because i want maximum performance for my new GPU.
    Even if the support will in the future go in the direction of OpenCL – i bet CUDA is a Plus.
    Because Nvidia Cards can both, OpenCL and Cuda. So they should be more effectiv – or can someone clear this up?

    Oh for me it’s just about Photoshop CS 6. I don’t use other parts of the Suite yet.

  4. @Antharyus, take another look – the GTX 680 is the slowest in that graph. It is a well known fact that the 6xx series was designed with crippled compute capabilities, in addition to the DP support being limited to 1/24(?) of the SP speed. If you want to fastest compute GPU right now at consumer prices, you have to get an AMD.

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