Adobe’s GPU Acceleration is Not That Great After All. Yet.

May 4, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Adobe’s GPU Acceleration is Not That Great After All. Yet.

May 4, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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One of the celebrated improvements in Lightroom CC is the faster performance, said to be up to ten times faster, thanks to the software’s ability to leverage the graphic processor unit (GPU).

A few days after the official release, however, an Adobe engineer shared additional information regarding GPU acceleration and turns out it might not be all that great. Not right now, at least, and not for everybody.

At the moment GPU acceleration is only available in the Develop module, and even then not all editing controls enjoy it.

Additionally, while GPU implementation offers no advantage for some functions, certain others will actually take longer with the acceleration enabled.

This information also applies to Camera Raw 9.0 for Photoshop/Bridge CC.

Eric Chan, a Camera Raw engineer, shared a bit of insight into the new GPU acceleration on the Adobe forums.

The first thing he points out is that only the Develop module can use the GPU, and states that they began with speeding up interactive image editing due to the increasing popularity of high-res monitors. The fact that a 4K monitor requires four times the amount of pixels to be rendered and displayed than on an HD monitor makes this speed upgrade necessary.

Chan mentions that high-res displays can enjoy a 10x or more speedup when leveraging the GPU and that “the bigger the screen, the bigger the win”.

Other modules and functions (Library, Export, Quick Develop, etc) do not use the GPU and their performance should not be affected whatsoever regardless if you have the GPU acceleration enabled or not.

Most editing controls within the Develop module are said to have full GPU acceleration. These include the basic and tone panel, panning and zooming, crop and straighten, lens corrections, gradients, and radial filter.

Local brush adjustments and spot clone/heal are some of the controls that do not currently support GPU leveraging, but they may in the future.

Explaining why only some functions are faster in Lightroom CC, Chan lists the problems and tradeoff involved in implementing GPU support. The first difficulty has to do with the software’s complexity and time constraints. Basically it’s not easy rewriting such an advanced piece of software and Chan and his colleagues had a limited amount of time. “For this particular version of Lightroom, we weren’t able to take advantage of the GPU to speed up everything”, he says. “Given our limited time, we needed to pick and choose specific areas of Lightroom to optimize”.

Next up the post states that while GPUs are marvelous at high-speed computation, having to transfer data from the CPU to the GPU can slows things down. Loading full-resolution images and switching from one image to another are mentioned as two examples that will take longer with the acceleration enabled. In this case, the bigger the screen, the bigger the loss.

Remember I said that some functions won’t benefit from GPU support? Well Chan adds that “decompressing sequential bits of data from a file — like most raw files, for instance” is one of them.

Finally the post refers to the GPU itself installed in the user’s computer. A GPU that works with Photoshop will not necessarily work with Lightroom, and older cards (4-5 years old) could offer no advantage or even slow you down. Unsurprisingly, Adobe says that you will get better performance from newer, high-end GPUs.

Understanding that this info will disappoint some users, Chan has a few words of encouragement:

“This is the beginning of the GPU story for Lightroom, not the end. The vision here is to expand our use of the GPU and other technologies over time to improve performance. I know that many photographers have been asking us for improved performance for a long time, and we’re trying to respond to that. Please understand this is a big step in that direction, but it’s just the first step. The rest of it will take some time”.

[via Adobe forums]

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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14 responses to “Adobe’s GPU Acceleration is Not That Great After All. Yet.”

  1. Joshua Gary Avatar
    Joshua Gary

    Lightroom is a lot slower on my PC for sure.

  2. jasonfweb Avatar
    jasonfweb

    My MacBook Pro gets a lot hotter even just having LR6 open and doing nothing (no background processes active). When LR5 is open, my computer is around 44 °C; When LR6 is it gets to 85°C or more. Again, it’s just open, not processing images or anything

  3. Paul Zynosky Avatar
    Paul Zynosky

    Not the first report of this that I have seen.

  4. Deacon Blues Avatar
    Deacon Blues

    I actually regret upgrading too soon before all these problems came to light. Should have waited for LR7.

  5. Chris Yarrow Avatar
    Chris Yarrow

    Slower on my iMac too. Not impressed.

  6. mike Avatar
    mike

    We are only at the beginning of dedicated GPU processing in consumer software. Give it some time and this will really change how things work.

  7. Marc Feldesman Avatar
    Marc Feldesman

    What about dual GPUs, as in the new Mac Pro? Double speedup or does it only use one?

  8. Steve Duffey Avatar
    Steve Duffey

    LR CC will not take advantage of my fairly new AMD Radeon card despite meeting the specs. I am not alone. Guess Adobe didn’t test with non NVIDIA cards. Things like this make me want to give C1 a try except for the time getting over the learning curve of new software.

    1. Shifty303 Avatar
      Shifty303

      If you know Lightroom then you know C1 for the most part. C1 images come out much sharper and with better color IMO but the controls don’t seem as polished as Lightroom controls.

  9. csnyder82 Avatar
    csnyder82

    “Local brush adjustments and spot clone/heal are some of the controls that do not currently support GPU leveraging, but they may in the future.”

    This is what I was looking forward to when they announced Lightroom would utilize your GPU. The only thing that is slow for me is the adjustment brush and it’s one of the few items not supported yet.

  10. Andrew Sible Avatar
    Andrew Sible

    So, we can crop and add gradients faster but now switching photos, one of the slowest actions IMO, is even slower. Oh and spot removal has no acceleration…

    Well I guess we shouldn’t hold our breath for “fast” and “lightroom” to be synonymous.

    Does LR 5.7 get any GPU goodies or just LR6?

  11. Denni Russel Avatar
    Denni Russel

    Launching, importing, and exporting are also DRASTICALLY slowed down. I did a direct comparison between the two. Here are some times to make your hairs go grey.
    *All times in seconds.
    **GPU acceleration unchecked in CC.
    ***Face detection paused in CC.
    ****Mobile sync paused in both 5.7 and CC.
    *****Catalogue already has over 100,000 images.

    Launch
    5.7: 6.4
    CC: 12.02

    Importing 5 CR2s from a 5DM2 and convert to DNG
    5.7: 14.95
    CC: 27.69

    Import 5 high quality jpgs
    5.7: 3
    CC: 4.45

    Export 5 full res Jpgs from DNGs
    5.7:13.57
    CC: 30

    Export 5 1200×800, 72 ppi Jpgs from DNGs
    5.7: 5.32
    CC: 9.57

    Export 5 1200×800, 72 ppi Jpgs from full res jpgs (original imports)

    5.7: 3
    CC: 6.88

  12. Eggz Avatar
    Eggz

    Chiming in to share some actual tests result (w/ video) about Lightroom 6/CC’s new GPU acceleration feature

    I was really curious about the specifics of Lightroom 6/CC’s new GPU utilization features. Since the info online wasn’t very specific, I did some testing of my own and put it in a video. The next paragraph begins a summary of the results, but the video that gives the full story. It includes all of the details on how I tested (and also explains the nerdy background for those interested).

    Having GPU acceleration is great! I and many others have been waiting for it, appreciate its introduction, and hope to see the feature expanded in the future. That said, we begin with baby steps.

    A total of three Lightroom functions are GPU accelerated (no others):

    —–Global (not local) image adjustments in the Develop Module

    —–Cropping

    —–Inspection (i.e. zooming in, panning across the zoom, and zooming out)

    With just three functions accelerated, that means the three key new features in this release have been tied to the CPU, and they are not GPU accelerated (nor is export accelerated).

    —–HDR Generation

    —–Panorama Generation

    —–Facial Recognition (this one’s especially slow)

    I’ll look forward to the future. It’s a great start, Lightroom team. Keep heading in this direction!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeBqmM2mOjQ

  13. affinityseattle Avatar
    affinityseattle

    “Given our limited time, we needed to pick and choose specific areas of Lightroom to optimize”

    – So, stop building useless consumer-focused tools like face detection meta tagging, book design, slideshow improvements, web page creation… focus on speed! SPEED!

    My 390X GPU has 8GB of ram. Why can’t LR load in 8GB of sequential raw data while I make coffee so we don’t have to wait for sequential loading with 3+ second flickering delays shot-to-shot (which should be lightning fast over PCIe anyhow but for Adobe isn’t??) 8GB would be hundreds of files, no?