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Monday, June 29, 2009, 03:40 pm PT (06:40 pm ET)

Apple sees brief iPhone 3GS shortages; NVIDIA intros CS4 plugins

Apple nearly saw a repeat of last year's sellouts on the weekend with widespread, but brief, iPhone 3GS shortages at many of its US retail stores. Also, NVIDIA has launched plugins that let Macs with newer video cards dramatically speed up tasks in Adobe's Creative Suite 4.

iPhone 3GS stock runs dry over the weekend

Keeping to its now traditional approach of tracking iPhone supplies closely in the immediate wake of a launch, Apple has posted an iPhone 3GS availability tool that lists stock by store and by model — and which has hinted at continued strong demand for the third-generation handset a week after it first appeared.

As followed by ifo Apple Store, the weekend began with only minor shortages that saw 29 of 257 shops nationwide reporting any kind of limited availability. By Sunday evening, however, very few stores had any stocks of the white iPhone 3GS model while only the white 32GB model was available at more than 52 percent of stores. Black versions of 16GB and 32GB models were only available at just over a third of stores at 35 percent each, and about 39 stores had no stock whatsoever.

A day later, the situation had improved substantially, with only six stores reporting no iPhones in stock and only a small amount more going without one or more models.

Whether or not the situation will remain the same in weeks to come is hard to tell. Last year's iPhone 3G launch saw even more severe shortages around this time last year and maintained a similar dire state for weeks afterwards, but it's possible both that Apple has better prepared itself for its latest launch as well as that economic woes have kept certain customers out of stores.

These figures are updated hourly and so should be accurate for the iPhone maker's own supply, but they don't include AT&T, Best Buy or Walmart, all of whom play an important part in Apple's true sales numbers.

NVIDIA releases Adobe CS4 CUDA plugins for Macs

Owners of more recent Macs with fast video cards were given an extra speed advantage on Monday with a new set of Adobe Creative Suite 4 plugins.

The suite includes four plugins from third parties and centers on Elemental Accelerator 1.2, a video processing add-on. Those using Mac Pros with a Quadro FX 4800 video card can use the general-purpose computing feature of these graphics chipsets to accelerate video encoding for H.264-formatted videos well beyond what would be possible with the processor alone. NVIDIA estimates that the task can run 11 times faster than it would without the plugin.

The others, from Boris FX ,proDAD and Red Giant Software, provide less conspicuous gains but help out other key apps in Adobe's library, including After Effects, Flash and Photoshop.

Such plugins are a rarity for the Mac, which has supported CUDA since last year but has only occasionally been supported by widely available apps. The situation should change with the release of Mac OS X Snow Leopard in September, when the universal OpenCL standard will encourage cross-platform support and let both ATI and NVIDIA cards run the same special code.