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After Effects and the state of GPU computing. By Phil Rhodes

Posted by Phil Rhodes on January 17, 2013 • 


What exactly is GPU computing and what does and doesn't use it?

"As we saw back in December in Eyeon's informative video, GPU computing is a very powerful technique that, during the last year or two, has begun to break out of a niche. The original application of graphics cards was, obviously, video games. 3D rendering software such as Max and Lightwave have been using games-oriented graphics hardware to produce approximate previews of the scene for some time. More recently, the world's most popular operating system learned how to draw its user interface using more features on the graphics card, saving the CPU from spending its valuable time working out which window is on top.


What's new

What's new is the application of graphics processing units to calculations which are not, at least directly, graphics-related. Projects such as Folding@Home have used GPUs for simulation in medical research, and in the last couple of versions, some postproduction software has begun to apply the same technology to rendering effects. Even video games have followed the curve, and now commonly do physics simulation for both rigid objects and soft bodies, smoke, and liquid.

While this is all good, but it could be better.


To understand why, it's probably worth recapping how modern GPUs work and what they're therefore capable of doing."




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