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2013 Mac Pro: GPU and Sharpening

Last updated 2014-01-17 - Send Feedback
Related: 2013 Mac Pro, gear, GPU, Mac Pro, Macs, memory, Photoshop, video

Get Mac Pro at B&H Photo. See also MPG’s computer gear wishlist as well as diglloyd-recommended performance packages for Mac Pro.

A big thanks to Other World Computing for loaning MPG the upgraded 2013 Mac Pro! Ditto for B&H Photo for loaning the 6-core Mac Pro. 64GB memory kit for 2013 Mac Pro provided by OWC.


Support for a fast graphics processor (GPU) holds huge potential.

The Jan 16 2014 release of Photoshop CC v14.2 delivers upon that potential for sharpening.


See the test machine configurations.

WOW! But keep reading below.

Update March 7 2014: this improvement has apparently been reversed—OS X 10.9.2 and Photoshop CC 14.2.1 is about 3X slower (with GPU) than shown here, yet CPU-only test is identical.

2013 Mac Pro performance: Photoshop CC sharpening with and without GPU

Both the 2010 Mac Pro with ATI Radeon HD 5870 1024MB video card and the 2013 8-core 3.3 GHz Mac Pro with D500 GPUs absolutely fly compared to sharpening with the CPU only.

The 2013 shows a 75% reduction in runtime (4X speed increase), and the 201 Mac Pro shows a 61% reduction in runtime.

The 2013 model is twice as fast as the 2010 model with the GPUs in use, but there is only about a 21% difference when the CPUs are used for sharpening without GPU support.

It’s unclear if both GPUs are being used, or just one.

Observing CPU usage during the sharpening, around ~3 CPU cores are used. Note that the 8-core 3.33 GHz CPU outperforms the 3.5 GHz 6-core on paper in that range due to its faster Turbo Boost. It apparently pays off here with a significantly faster time. The test was re-run several times, with highly consistent results.

The 2010 Mac Pro with a higher end video card could be be given new life if more functions improve to this degree.

This test is a mix of Smart Sharpen + Unsharp Mask + Sharpen Edges.

2013 Mac Pro performance: Photoshop CC sharpening with and without GPU
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