Nvidia and AMD have both invested plenty of resources in general-purpose GPU computing, and—especially in Nvidia's case—a fair amount of PR hype surrounds the whole subject. Eager to get in that spotlight, S3 Graphics has now released an application that demonstrates the GPGPU capabilities of its latest graphics processors.
Dubbed S3FotoPro, the application essentially harnesses GPU power to pretty up 2D images. S3 claims its Chrome 400-series GPUs handle the app's algorithms "magnitudes (>100x) of times faster than the latest CPUs in the market today." Here's the company's detailed spiel on S3FotoPro:
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 calls on the power of the S3 Graphics GPGPU to perform the transformations and adjustments needed to beautify the image. 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.
S3 doesn't go into a lot of detail about exactly how it wrote the app, though, simply mentioning, "The complete re-design of the Chrome general purpose programmable shader architecture supports an SIMD instruction set to efficiently calculate computations on parallel data workloads and thousands of concurrent threads." That sounds an awful lot like it used proprietary assembly code instead of a high-level API like Nvidia's CUDA or AMD's Brook+.
Nevertheless, the simple fact that S3 is getting busy on the GPGPU front bodes well for its parent company—VIA. Considering Intel is working on its own programmable graphics processor, and AMD already sells GPGPU-capable products, VIA may have to offer similar capabilities in its future platforms in order to keep its Nano processor (and potential successors) somewhat competitive.
In the meantime, you can grab S3FotoPro from the downloads section of S3's website. The software requires a Chrome 400-series card and either Windows XP or Windows Vista.