AMD Breaks Adobe CUDA lock-in with OpenCL

Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Sean Ridgeley
Date: April 5th, 2013

A change for the better

Real-time work flows are made easier and smoother on OpenCL enabled devices with Adobe's new Premier Pro, previewed yesterday by Adobe and AMD. The new version of Premiere Pro supports OpenCL accelerated effects on AMD FirePro discrete graphics and APUs, as well as AMD's consumer line of graphics products like Radeon GPUs and A-series APUs.

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For some time now, Adobe professionals have been GPU- accelerated courtesy of CUDA and tied to specific high end consumer and professional NVIDIA products to support that acceleration. AMD have now broken that lock-in, a move first hinted at during Adobe's keynote presentation at the inaugural AMD Fusion Developer Summit, 2011.

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AMD will be demonstrating the effects of OpenCL acceleration in person at NAB 2013, the National Association of Broadcasters exhibition and conference which begins on Monday, April 8th in Las Vegas. Along with Dell, AMD will be partnered with Adobe to showcase the OpenCL accelerated Mercury engine in Premiere Pro next, on AMD's FirePro series of workstation cards for professional use.

AMD's internal testing shows the addition of a FirePro W-series graphics card can run Adobe Premiere Pro effects accelerated by OpenCL by up to six times. The basis for comparison here is an older workstation, where it makes more sense to replace just the GPU and update to the new version of the software than it does to buy a new box and software; the lion's share of performance is in the GPU now.

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Click to Zoom & Enlarge

AMD can also show the difference between NVIDIA's latest Kepler based Quadro workstation cards using CUDA and AMD FirePro cards featuring GCN architecture and using OpenCL accelerated effects. The performance increase varies by product but the more affordable solution, the FirePro W5000, is claimed to be 27% faster than NVIDIA's Quadro K2000. At the same ~$499USD price point, that makes the FirePro a compelling option over the Quadro card, ostensibly a quarter more performance for free.

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Click to Zoom & Enlarge

AMD's as of yet unreleased Richland APU will see benefits, with the integrated Radeon HD 8670D graphics of the A10-6800K speeding up a color corrector effect by upto 4.3 times over the quad core CPU alone. Acceleration rates like that make more advanced effects and editing more palatable to more users, something that will help adoption rates of AMD APUs for prosumers and hobby video enthusiasts.

The enhancements to Adobe Premiere Pro put Windows users in a position to compete with Mac users, who have had OpenCL acceleration for some time. The list of accelerated effects includes, but is not limited to:

  • ProcAmp
  • Sharpen
  • Color Balance (RGB)
  • RGB Color Corrector
  • Lumetri -- Compression 1
  • Lumetri -- Cinematic 1
  • Lumetri -- Sepia
  • Lumetri -- B&W Yellow Filter
  • Lumetri -- Maxiumum Desaturation
  • Lumetri -- Back in the Day
  • Lumetri -- Dreams 2
  • Lumetri -- Duo-toning
  • Lumetri -- Warm Overall

Effects such as these can provide adjustments to video footage that offer primary and secondary color correction, gamma irregularities, color shifts, color layering and matching in real time, so users can preview changes in real time on marked segments of video before committing to the full render.

In a press release today, Neal Robison, Senior Director of Software Alliances at AMD spoke of creativity at the speed of thought:

"AMD and Adobe are dedicated to delivering professional and consumer level solutions that support open standards and provide artists everywhere with the ability to create at the speed of thought. Through AMD's strong relationship with Adobe, video editors no longer have to wait for the rendering of edits, effects, and composites - most everything can now be achieved at high-quality in real-time."

Support for OpenCL in a high profile application like Adobe Premiere Pro is a great step for AMD. In a single product update, the performance and capabilities of their existing install base has been increased usefully. Ideally this trend towards common and open standards will be pervasive across all ISVs, and Adobe will be joined by many other big names looking to use OpenCL to remain competitive and innovative for their future products.