Photoshop CS4

Photoshop is famously known for taxing your computers resources, but beginning with the upcoming CS4 version, it'll finally be able to make use of the muscle of your computer's graphics chip.

Photoshop CS4 takes its first steps in using the graphics processing unit, or GPU. For example, the graphics chip helps Photoshop CS4 easily zoom in and out, rotate the canvas so you can easily reorient an image for the best sketching angle, display and manipulate 3D objects, and handle color correction.

Using integrated graphics chips opens up new doors but also creates its own challenges. First of all, graphics chips are designed to discharge pixels to the screen, not sending them back to the main processor, so not all tasks can be accelerated.

Another problem is that Adobe will need to work carefully on hardware compatibility and people with older machines may need to upgrade the video card; card with 128MB of memory is recommended.

The upgrade price for Photoshop is $199 for the Photoshop CS4 and $349 for CS4 Extended; prices for the new versions are $699 and $999.

The Extended version adds an assortment of special-purpose abilities for dealing with scientific applications, dealing with medical imagery, and creating 3D subject matter. The company also offers its consumer-level Photoshop Elements for about $100 and its online Photoshop Express for free.

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