Beta versions

A new version of PTGui will be released soon, and you can download a beta version already. This beta version is now being tested but may still be unstable. If you don't encounter problems with PTGui 9.1.9, it is better to wait for the next release version.

What's new?

New stitcher

The current stitching engine in PTGui started life at a time when most PCs were still running on a single processor and graphics cards were only used to display things on a screen. But in the past few years computers have become more powerful by increasing the number of processor cores, and these days the graphics card (GPU) can be used not only for display but for general computing as well. A GPU is an extremely powerful processor with many hundreds of processor cores, but software has to be rewritten to be able to use that power.

That's exactly what's new in the PTGui 10 beta: a new stitching engine, rewritten from scratch to get the best performance on modern hardware. For GPU processing the stitcher uses OpenCL, a technology supported by both major GPU vendors (NVIDIA and AMD) and supported on Windows and Mac. Of course stitching without using the graphics card remains possible, and CPU stitching performance has been improved as well. The new stitcher also uses significantly less memory, which speeds up stitching of large gigapixel panoramas in particular.

The goal for the new stitching engine is to be fully compatible with the current stitcher; changes are entirely under the hood and the only difference you should notice is a reduction in stitching time.

So how much speedup should you expect compared with PTGui 9? This depends on many factors such as the GPU's processing power versus the CPU speed, how much time is spent writing the results to the disk, etc. Initial tests suggest a speedup anywhere between 1.5x and 10x depending on hardware and on the kind of panorama. But to give one benchmark as an example: the Gigapixel Panorama Speedtest on a particular machine (6 core Intel i7, Windows 8.1, 32GB of RAM, AMD Radeon HD7870, Samsung SSD) stitches in 35 seconds, compared to 151 seconds in PTGui 9.1.9.

In this beta version the new engine is used only when stitching the final panorama. But we plan to use it to accelerate other parts of PTGui as well, such as the Panorama Editor, Detail Viewer and Publish to Website.

New tone mapper

The other change in PTGui 10 beta is a new tone mapping algorithm for HDR panoramas. The new algorithm gives natural looking results, comparable in quality to Exposure Fusion. It's easy to use and much faster than the previous algorithm, which could take a very long time for large panoramas.

Hardware requirements

To use the GPU for stitching a video card supporting OpenCL 1.1 is required, with a minimum of 512 MB video RAM. Every recent GPU from AMD and NVIDIA should work. At least 2 GB of video RAM is recommended: although the panorama doesn't need to fit entirely in the video RAM, moving data between the CPU and the GPU is relatively slow and should be avoided to get the best performance.

Laptops have less powerful 'mobile' GPU variants to keep down power consumption, and many laptops only have integrated graphics. On a laptop with discrete GPU the new stitcher will run somewhat faster on the GPU than on the CPU, but the difference is not extreme. Integrated graphics are not supported at all (and would be slower anyway). But Windows desktops can easily be upgraded with a new GPU, and adding a $300 GPU (like the HD7870 from the above benchmark) will result in a significant speedup.

On Mac upgrading a GPU is mostly impossible: only the previous generation Mac Pro has replacable graphics hardware. iMacs only have mobile class GPUs or integrated graphics. The new Mac Pro on the other hand has been designed with GPU computing in mind and will be an ideal machine for running PTGui (even though PTGui currently only uses 1 of the 2 GPUs). On a Mac PTGui requires OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later for GPU stitching.

Finally keep in mind that with this improvement in stitching speed, disk speed is actually becoming the limiting factor. Replacing a spinning hard disk with an SSD will make even more difference than before.

Detailed list of changes

Known issues

The following problems are known to exist in the current beta:

Feedback

Since this is a beta version it may contain bugs; therefore your feedback is much appreciated. Post any bugs, comments to the PTGui Google group but please check the Known Issues list above before posting.

Installing multiple versions side by side

You can try the beta version without overwriting your existing copy of PTGui. On Windows select a different installation folder when prompted during installation (e.g. C:\Program Files\PTGui Beta). On Mac the PTGui application can be copied from the install disk image, renamed, and installed in any folder on your mac, not just the Applications folder.

If you have accidentally overwritten your copy of PTGui you can always download the former version again from this website.

Download

Download PTGui or PTGui Pro, version 10.0beta3

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