Adobe, CS4, CS4E and 64 Shiny Glorious Bits

This week was full of announcements about the forthcoming Adobe Creative Suite releases. To me, the important part of that gaggle o’ code is Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop CS4 Extended (CS4E). I picked up CS3E less than a year ago, taking advantage of an upgrade path from CS2 to CS3E for a premium cost over an CS2 to CS3 upgrade. More on that later.

With the announcements came the confirmation that CS4/CS4E on the Mac platform will still only be 32-bit. I lamented about this a while ago, but it’s worth mentioning again that I’m not happy about being boxed in to only 4GB of addressable memory space. Nothing I’m doing right now is using anything beyond a GB of RAM, so it’s not the end of the world… yet. Adobe is dismissing this as a non-issue, as they measure the impact with an eye toward speed. Speed is great, and I want all of that I can get, but I also want to have wide, green pastures available to me, even if I don’t use it all. 64 bits of addressing would definitely help.

The other interesting thing about the new Photoshop is utilization of hardware acceleration on the graphics card for a variety of typical tasks. However, it kinda reads that the Nvidia cards (GeForce and Quadro) are the favored cards. I’m still trying to see if there’s any benefit from my stock ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT card. To upgrade the video card, Apple sells the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT (512MB) for close to $300; a Quadro is easily twice that. Unless my card will drag some love out of Adobe, I’m probably outta luck on getting any benefit from this upgrade.

This release is the first upgrade to the CS Extended environment, and I expected to see a similar price for CS3E to CS4E as there is from CS3 to CS4. That ain’t the case. CS3 to CS4 is $199, but the move to CS4E from CS, CS2, CS3 or CS3E is $349! I already paid that version change tax once, and it’s ludicrous of Adobe to expect that same path to be paved in my gold twice, especially when there’s not that much benefit in the CS Extended versions for me… for now.

With the lack of functional benefit for me, the appearance that the hardware accelerator may pass me by, the lack of 64-bit love, and the crazy upgrade policy, I believe I’ll end up waiting for CS5E, and see if the pot’s a bit sweeter.