New Adobe Photoshop Brings Super Resolution Feature and Speed Improvements for M1 Macs

New Adobe Photoshop Brings Super Resolution Feature and Speed Improvements for M1 Macs

Today, Adobe has released the first version of Photoshop designed to run natively on M1 Macs, and the company promises significant speed improvements in the new version. Along with this, Photoshop on iPad has gained two new cloud features, and Camera Raw has gained an interesting new feature dubbed "Super Resolution."

M1 Macs have shown a lot of potential for performance improvements (particularly relative to cost) and impressive battery life. Today, Adobe has announced the availability of the first native version of Photoshop for M1 Macs, and it promises some impressive speed improvements, with resource-intensive features like Content-Aware Fill running about 1.5x faster on average. There are a few features that are not yet available in the M1 version of Photoshop, such as Preset Syncing and Invite to Edit Cloud Documents. The company advises that if you need these features that you use Rosetta 2 until they are available.

All versions of Photoshop will now also have access to Super Resolution in Camera Raw. Leveraging machine learning that has been trained on millions of photos, this new feature promises to enlarge images while preserving edges and details, effectively increasing the resolution of photos. This feature is powered by the GPU, making it run much faster. 

Lastly, Photoshop for iPad users will now enjoy Cloud Documents Version History and Cloud Documents offline access. The first feature allows users to browse and revert back to different versions of files that are up to 60 days old. Users can select certain versions so that they don't expire as well. Users can now also store cloud documents offline as needed.

You can read more on Adobe's official blog post here.

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Ryan Cooper's picture

This is cool and exciting at all. But I can't help but wonder? Why rush to make M1 Macs better so aggressively when Windows performs horribly? That must be a wildly bigger audience, why not fix it first? Seems like an odd choice to me, though, I get that Apple probably was leaning pretty hard on them.

Jim Tincher's picture

Out of the box the M1 Macs are running circles around Intel processor machines, Photoshop is faster too but it's runnning in "emulation" mode... the new release is native for the M1 processor thus the even greater performance. As for Intel there's nothing to be done to make that faster until Intel releases a better processor.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Oh, I know, that is unquestionable, but the number of Photoshop users on Windows must outnumber Photoshop users on M1 Macs by 1,000:1 or even greater. Why not invest in the bigger problem first? Windows performance has been awful for years. I even plan to buy an M1 Mac at some point so will have an appreciation of the M1 performance, but I want to edit on my desktop rig, not a laptop.

As for the assertion that nothing can be done on intel processors and it is intel's, that's hogwash. Adobe regularity has one of my 8 cores at 100% and the other 7 idle. My GPU sits idle. Meanwhile, Photoshop's ram footprint grows and grows until it either crashes or becomes unusable. There are some fundamental implementation flaws in the windows version that need to be addressed. Lightroom is even worse. Meanwhile, the same machine can edit 4k footage with butter smoothness in DaVinci without even spiking the CPU or the GPU.

I don't even push it all that hard anymore. There was a time when I worked with 36mp composite files containing hundreds of layers on my old iMac (5+ years ago) and it handled them ok, not great, but ok. These days I'm just retouching 24mp files, max 10-15 layers and Photoshop chugs constantly. Its like playing a video game at 10fps. If I try to open an 8gb composite now, Photoshop has a meltdown.

My specs are as follows:

- i7 9700k running at 4.7ghz (8 core)
- 64gb of 3666mhz ram
- 2x M.2 NVME SSD (both bench at 3.2gb/s. One contains the OS/apps, the other contains footage/scratch)
- RTX 2070 GPU

Not the epitome of elite, but plenty powerful enough that photo editing should be trivial but I think my point is relevant. Most users have it much worse than me.

Rayann Elzein's picture

This. Exactly this. I had a 8700K pushed to 5 GHz on all cores and it was still not enough for Lightroom. So blaming Intel for Adobe's poor performance on Windows machines is err... quite a joke. By the way, I just switched to a Ryzen CPU (3950X, with 16 cores) and an RTX 3090, and yes, Lightroom's performance has improved, but only slightly... Luckily this was not my reason to go this way, but video editing was.

Ariel Martini's picture

Windows version isnt broken, it should perform similarly to an Intel Mac with same amount of memory. Remember that Photoshop default is set to use less memory than the system offers, so if you are having problems maybe take a look at this. Also make sure your scratch disks are set to use your SSDs. They didn't fix photoshop for M1, they are just providing a native compile.

Ryan Cooper's picture

It doesn't. Not even close. Not even in the realm of close. My old iMac running an HDD that is 7 years old destroys my modern Windows rig in Adobe performance. (But the Windows rig utterly obliterates it at running anything else) I don't believe it is just my machine because EVERYONE I know suffers from similar issues on Windows. For example, Rayann above on what is an insanely cutting edge spec machine.

Regardless though, Adobe on Mac is also pretty poor in the great bit scheme of things. The whole: "max out one CPU core and leave the rest idle" problem is alive and well on my mac as well. Its just not as severe. I've been trying to solve this for a year. I've reinstalled the OS, swapped out drives, swapped out the Motherboard, upgraded ram, upgraded SSDs, the works. I'm at a conclusion now where my mistake is expecting modern performance out of an app that was poorly architected a decade ago. I even did a 3 hour screen share with an Adobe tech where he tried everything he could think of and only succeeded in making things worse. His end conclusion was: "This is as good as you can expect, editing images is a complex process". Mine is: "Boy are you lucky there is no serious competition in this space or you would lose your entire userbase"

It has been a huge bummer. I thought I was buying a huge upgrade when I swapped to Windows and my editing workflow has been much slower ever since. (Though I still don't regret the buy because I've really enjoyed the gaming experience as well as the DaVinci performance)

Edit: I'd also add, that I know Adobe knows how to do it properly because Super Resolution appears properly architected. When I run it, all 8 cores share the load, as does the GPU. It is very fast. I can do 10 images in under 15 seconds. Anything new Adobe adds seems to do just fine. Its just all the old features and the main UI that chug. Unfortunately, that' represents the majority of my time. I think the fact that I can Super Resolution a high res photo faster than I can change tabs in LRC is probably the most telling thing. Like wtf?

jon N's picture

So I notice Lightroom updates are available today but the Super Resolution feature is not yet included. But camera raw in Photoshop will serve my purpose for now, as I’m unlikely to use this new feature for batch processing. I usually pay little attention to camera raw updates which normally adds new cameras and lenses. ACR 13.2 in the latest version of Photoshop is worth looking at more closely. But use Super Resolution carefully on individual files unless you want to quickly fill up your hard drive. One of my 50MB raw files resulted in an up-res file size of 668MB!

N.B. Super Resolution Enhanced DNG images created in ACR can be imported into Lightroom.

Ariel Martini's picture

This super resolution is pretty groundbreaking. Medium formats became fancy accessories

Ryan Cooper's picture

Wow, you are right, this is wild. This should be the lead headline on every photo website. This is a game changer.

Edit: I'd also add that this feature also is useful for Medium Format so I don't know if it really invalidates MF. I think the more accurate summary is: "Every camera on the planet just became sharper, regardless of make or how old it is" so long as its owner makes use of this feature. That's an insanely exciting thing that benefits virtually every photographer. Even my film buddy is pumped for this because his film scanner effectively just got an upgrade.

jon N's picture

I think this Resolution tool is a nice feature for those who don’t have Topaz which offers better options. The original Enhance feature was really aimed at those interested in pixel peeping into their raw files. This new feature quadruples resolution using artificial intelligence – advanced machine learning - producing a new enhanced DNG file. I think it will be good for those who want to print larger images especially if the original has been heavily cropped. It’s a one click solution which seems to do a pretty good job and it can be used on tiff or jpeg files; so is not restricted to raw files like the original Enhance Details feature. I’ve tried this in Photoshop’s camera raw dialog and hope to see it in the next Lightroom update.