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S3 Graphics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Via Technologies that specializes on discrete graphics processing units, has unveiled its own proprietary S3FotoPro tool that enhances quality of photos. The tool uses the power of S3’s graphics processors for processing of general data and is one of the first GPGPU applications of its kind. S3 claims that it will attempt to leverage the power of its GPUs on other consumer-oriented software as well.

S3FotoPro uses a proprietary and complex smart-image algorithm to analyze and automatically adjust macro and micro details within a picture to enhance the picture quality. The application utilizes the power of the S3 Graphics Chrome 400-series chips to perform the transformations and adjustments needed to improve the image quality, claims the company. Available picture enhancements include: Color clarity and correction, de-fogging, skin smoothing, gradient blending, saturation and tonal balance adjustments and optimizations, and many more improvements.

Both leading developers of graphics processors – ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia Corp. – have been talking about general purpose computing on GPUs for many years now, though, very few applications actually utilize GPGPU nowadays. S3 Graphics has so far been quite about GPGPU, but with the release of its S3FotoPro software the company shows that it is also interested in the technology.

“Markets that can benefit from S3 Graphics GPGPU technology include high-performance computing (HPC), HD video transcoding/encoding, scientific, engineering, medical, imaging, physics, and many other areas. The potential and opportunities to leverage this novel technology are just starting to open up and the full potential has yet to be realized,” said Dr. Ken Weng, general manager for S3 Graphics.

Even though GPGPU is hardly popular today, its importance is going to increase in the coming years now that OpenCL application programming interface developed specifically for general-purpose computing on stream processors is available and Microsoft DirectX 11 with “computing shaders” support is just around the corner.

Unfortunately for S3, its graphics processors offer tangibly lower performance compared to offerings by AMD’s ATI unit as well as Nvidia. As a result, S3 will hardly be able to seriously capitalize on the GPGPU going forward, especially after Intel Corp. enters the market of discrete graphics chips with its Larrabee product.

Tags: S3 Graphics, Chrome, GPGPU

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