Photoshop Beta Performance

Adobe cares about performance. How do I know? Because there is a team of us on Photoshop whose only job is performance. I spent all of my time for this cycle doing nothing but performance, a lot of it on start up time. I thought spending my time to make the product launch faster would be valuable, and it looks like that was the correct decision.

Any application can be made faster and Photoshop is no exception. As I have mentioned in the past, it is my responsibility to make sure that Photoshop’s performance improves with every release. The beta was released while I was away on vacation, and I see that a few questions came up on the bulletin boards during that time, which were effectively answered by people on the team. Still, I am want to throw my voice into the ring to answer and help where I can.

One of the biggest questions that I have seen, and one I hope to tackle here now: 64 bit. The question seems to be: Why isn’t the beta 64 bit? My answer to this is: Why does it matter?

Photoshop will run on 32 and 64 bit OSes well. It will take advantage of the hardware you have as best it can. That is the most important thing to keep in mind – Photoshop will run well on the hardware that you have.

If we shipped a version of Photoshop that was 16 bit, but still ran on all of the 32/64 bit OSes, would that matter? If we determined that a 16 bit application would run users tasks faster on these OSes, wouldn’t you want that version? I and others here verified what would give our customers the most bang for their buck on this release (since, I really am the person who says this all of the time here, since that is who I am and why I am here at Adobe). I could have spent this whole cycle moving us to 64 bit rather than working on startup time, but would that give you more of what you want? Add 20 seconds to the startup time you are seeing for the beta for all versions/platforms of Photoshop and compare the value of that version to one where the histogram would be 10% faster on 64 bit machines (and most of the rest of Photoshop being 5% slower). It is true, there are some things, like histogram, that would be 10% faster, I wrote the code to verify this. But, the rest of the product would have been slower without a few people spending the whole cycle going over all of the slow parts and bringing them back to where they were on 32 bit. Most operations on a 64 bit application like Photoshop are actually slower by a small amount if time isn’t spent optimizing them.

So, remember, while most of the people on Photoshop are bringing you way cool new features, I and the handful of people on my team are in the backroom trying to save you time and make your work go faster. We made choices based on bringing you the best that we could out of the various choices of where to spend time – at least that is my belief. As Scott said in his blog, most of the benefit and the reason most people ask about 64 bit isn’t because of a known technical advantage, but of a marketing advantage, while here on the team we would use whatever technology that would bring advantage to you, even if it were 16 bit.

I hope I have addressed your concerns over 64 bit at least. I’ll be on the public boards and the beta boards looking to answer your questions about performance – there are quite a few performance minded people already there, so I will chime in when I can.

Edward Kandrot