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The Adobe Pixel Bender plug-in is now available as a free download. According to Adobe, the plug-in provides "automatic runtime optimization on heterogeneous hardware' to run Photoshop filters faster.
'Pixel Bender is best suited for the kind of algorithms in which processing of any pixel has minimum dependence on the values of other pixels. For example, you can efficiently write a kernel to manipulate brightness of the image because brightness of each pixel can be changed independently. You would not want to use Pixel Bender to compute a histogram, because a histogram requires the values of all the pixels in an image.'*