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Adobe soups up Photoshop with Pixel Bender

Photoshop now has a high-performance new special effects technology, Pixel Bender. Adobe showed an online version as well.

Pixel Bender enables a new range of effects sped by a PC's graphics chip.
Pixel Bender enables a new range of effects sped by a PC's graphics chip. Adobe Systems

Adobe Systems on Monday launched a technology called Pixel Bender that brings new effects to Photoshop--and some new work for computers' often-idle graphics chips.

Pixel Bender, presently an Adobe Labs project, is a new engine for enabling many image transformations. Examples include a kaleidoscopic hall-of-mirrors effect, a twirled distortion effect, a fisheye lens effect, and a ray-tracing effect. Some effects are available at the Pixel Bender Exchange.

Photoshop already has a plug-in architecture for many special effects, but Pixel Bender is designed to be easier on programmers creating effects and faster to show them. The acceleration comes through support not just of multicore processors, but also of the graphics processors that Photoshop CS4 now can exploit.

Last night, Adobe posted the new version 1.1 of the Pixel Bender Toolkit for those who want to create their own effects. Photoshop Senior Product Manager John Nack announced availability of the Photoshop CS4 Pixel Bender plug-in on his blog Monday.

But Pixel Bender isn't just for the version of Photoshop that runs on PCs. On Monday, Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch demonstrated the technology running on, the company's online photo-editing site.

"This is under development and will appear in a future update," Adobe spokeswoman Cari Gushiken said of the

Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch demonstrates technology
This abstract pattern shows an image hosted at altered by two Pixel Bender filters, one for creating a halftone dot pattern and one for the tunnel effect. Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch demonstrated the technology at the Max conference. Stephen Shankland/CNET News

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