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Author Topic: I need Speed...Memory...Power  (Read 7669 times)
SteveZ
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« on: October 12, 2008, 12:41:22 PM »
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As a photographer (but not a PC geek), I've come to the crossroads of digital darkroom processing and must decide what computer technology is going to best serve me in the future.

For the past 2 years I've been using Windows XP 32 bit with an Intel Core 2 processor (2.40 GHz) but all this just doesn't cut the mustard anymore. I shoot RAW and save everything in 16 bit. I use a ton of stand alone software and CS33pugins which use up a lot of my system resources and, with CS4 about to be released, I was thinking (do I have a choice?) of upgrading to Windows VISTA 64 in order accomodate more RAM and a new motherboard for faster operation.

Either I do this or make the switch to a MacPro.

So what exactly do I need? Suggestions appreciated.
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mbalensiefer
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2008, 10:07:52 PM »
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The MacBOOKPro was allauded by several publications as the best portable machine available to run both Windows XP AND the Mac OS on.

You can install both apps on one MacbookPro.

Michael
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John.Murray
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2008, 10:11:36 PM »
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CS4 is a true 64-bit application on Vista 64.  It is the *primary* reason, I'm upgrading.  I'm currently running Lightroom 2 on both Vista 64 (8GB RAM) and 32 bit (3GB) platforms.  The extended direct memory access provided is immediately noticeable.

Before you commit, *check* all your hardware vendors for device driver compatibilty:  Certified WHQL signed drivers are not just an option under Vista-64, they are required.
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BruceHouston
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2008, 12:24:34 AM »
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Quote from: SteveZ
As a photographer (but not a PC geek), I've come to the crossroads of digital darkroom processing and must decide what computer technology is going to best serve me in the future.

For the past 2 years I've been using Windows XP 32 bit with an Intel Core 2 processor (2.40 GHz) but all this just doesn't cut the mustard anymore. I shoot RAW and save everything in 16 bit. I use a ton of stand alone software and CS33pugins which use up a lot of my system resources and, with CS4 about to be released, I was thinking (do I have a choice?) of upgrading to Windows VISTA 64 in order accomodate more RAM and a new motherboard for faster operation.

Either I do this or make the switch to a MacPro.

So what exactly do I need? Suggestions appreciated.

You can buy a dual-quad motherboard, populate it with quad-core Xeon processors and 16-32 GB of memory, and have essentially the same hardware as an 8-core MacPro at a MUCH cheaper price.  And, of course, install Vista 64 to be able to access all the memory.  Hire a PC geek to put it together for you if you do not want to fool with it.

Look at Tyan Tempest i5400XT motherboard or the like, populated with Intel Xeon E54xx processors.  The "xx" is the processor speed, and you pay accordingly.  You can buy all parts at Newegg.com.

Best,
Bruce
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Schewe
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2008, 01:11:43 AM »
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Quote from: SteveZ
with CS4 about to be released, I was thinking (do I have a choice?) of upgrading to Windows VISTA 64 in order accomodate more RAM and a new motherboard for faster operation.

Either I do this or make the switch to a MacPro.

If (and this is an important distinction) you often work on really big, multi-layered 16 bit files, then you really should think about Vista 64 with a lot of ram. The reason is that there won't be a 64 bit version of Photoshop until at least CS5 and aside from CPU speed, ram is the single biggest bottleneck for Photoshop. Photoshop CS4 and Vista 64 can give Photoshop as much ram as the motherboard allows and I would say that 16 gigs is a bare minimum and 32gigs or above would be really useful when working on really big files.

If however, you files are not in the 1gig and bigger range, a MacPro with 16 gigs and Photoshop CS4 is very fast...it's just that Photoshop will still be limited to under 4 gigs for the app and free ram for scratch is you use the Force FV Buffering plug-in.

But you really should decide what's important for YOU...
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Czornyj
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2008, 04:32:18 AM »
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Quote from: Schewe
If (and this is an important distinction) you often work on really big, multi-layered 16 bit files, then you really should think about Vista 64 with a lot of ram. The reason is that there won't be a 64 bit version of Photoshop until at least CS5 and aside from CPU speed, ram is the single biggest bottleneck for Photoshop. Photoshop CS4 and Vista 64 can give Photoshop as much ram as the motherboard allows and I would say that 16 gigs is a bare minimum and 32gigs or above would be really useful when working on really big files.

If however, you files are not in the 1gig and bigger range, a MacPro with 16 gigs and Photoshop CS4 is very fast...it's just that Photoshop will still be limited to under 4 gigs for the app and free ram for scratch is you use the Force FV Buffering plug-in.

But you really should decide what's important for YOU...

I also ordered CS4 and now I'm considering some hardware changes. I'd like to buy a fast video card with 0,5-1GB of memory - is generally nVidia GPU recommended, or may it also be ATI (I don't trust nVidia, had some problems with calibration in the past)? Will 4 vs 2 core CPU make any difference? (I work in PS, ID and Ai)
« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 04:33:02 AM by Czornyj » Logged

tived
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2008, 05:25:14 AM »
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Quote from: Schewe
....aside from CPU speed, ram is the single biggest bottleneck for Photoshop.

Schewe,

do you mind if I add something here to your list, ...thanks, Harddrive speed/access is the single biggest bottleneck for photoshop, as it most likely will also be your slowest component in your system (be it Mac or PC)

please correct me if I am wrong.

Fast harddrives or arrays of harddrives be it SATAII, SAS or SSD, is what is going to make your system fast. Exception; if you only work on one file, and/or very small files only. Reading and writing data to disk is what takes up the most time, in the photo editing process, your CPU and RAM will go for lunch, while the you are busy saving your work to disk.

I could be wrong, but this is my experience.

Kindest regards

Henrik

PS: do not store important data on a Raid-0 array....just had one crash on me :-( A Foul I am!!
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SteveZ
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2008, 07:32:15 AM »
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Quote from: Joh.Murray
Before you commit, *check* all your hardware vendors for device driver compatibilty:  Certified WHQL signed drivers are not just an option under Vista-64, they are required.

This is part that worries me, I'm hearing more and more about incompatibility of drivers with Vista-64.
Not sure I understand what you mean by "WHQL" signed drivers, care to explain this?
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Schewe
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2008, 11:37:36 AM »
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Quote from: tived
do you mind if I add something here to your list, ...thanks, Harddrive speed/access is the single biggest bottleneck for photoshop, as it most likely will also be your slowest component in your system (be it Mac or PC)

please correct me if I am wrong.


Well, the only thing I would take issue with you is the "single biggest" part. It's only one of three main factors; CPU speed, ram & Disk i/o are all potentially the "single biggest" depending on the limitations of the others. Basically, all THREE are important considerations and you can't boost one and ignore the other two and expect to substantially improve Photoshop's performance.

If you have a really fast, multi-core machine AND have lots of ram, then yes, the remaining biggest bottleneck is disk i/o. And now with Photoshop CS4's ability to use video GPU there's a 4th factor in play. Note that GPU doesn't do much if anything for "processing" power but will now have a lot to do with UI speed and there are some features that rely upon the GPU.

So, get the FASTEST multi-core, the MOST amount of ram, WICKED fast disk arrays and a big honking video card and you'll have a kick ass Photoshop machine....
« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 11:41:16 AM by Schewe » Logged
button
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2008, 02:50:22 PM »
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Quote from: BruceHouston
Look at Tyan Tempest i5400XT motherboard or the like, populated with Intel Xeon E54xx processors.  The "xx" is the processor speed, and you pay accordingly.  You can buy all parts at Newegg.com.

Best,
Bruce

Thanks, Bruce.  What other motherboards have you found that can accept 32 gigs of RAM?  All I've found are server boards.

John
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2008, 04:57:46 PM »
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Quote from: SteveZ
As a photographer (but not a PC geek), I've come to the crossroads of digital darkroom processing and must decide what computer technology is going to best serve me in the future.

For the past 2 years I've been using Windows XP 32 bit with an Intel Core 2 processor (2.40 GHz) but all this just doesn't cut the mustard anymore. I shoot RAW and save everything in 16 bit. I use a ton of stand alone software and CS33pugins which use up a lot of my system resources and, with CS4 about to be released, I was thinking (do I have a choice?) of upgrading to Windows VISTA 64 in order accomodate more RAM and a new motherboard for faster operation.

Either I do this or make the switch to a MacPro.

So what exactly do I need? Suggestions appreciated.


I would argue that "the best is the enemy of good enough". PC prices have been falling like a stone, so you can get a 'good enough' system for a pittance these days. You can now buy off the rack a quad-processor PC with 8 gig ram and 750 gig hard disk with a good video card for less than $1,200 U.S., running Vista 64. This is more than enough to run Photoshop pretty darned fast for any image file smaller than 1 gig, especially when CS4 permits you to access all that ram. Without a native 64 bit Photoshop, extra ram above 4 gig really doesn't gain you very much.
Yes, you can have a custom built monster system that's noticeably faster than this; but it'll cost, what, three times as much? Four? I'd rather buy another lens.
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BruceHouston
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2008, 09:42:43 PM »
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Quote from: button
Thanks, Bruce.  What other motherboards have you found that can accept 32 gigs of RAM?  All I've found are server boards.

John

Tyan Tempest i5100X (S5375)
Tyan Tempest i5100W (S5376)
Tyan Tempest i5400PL (S5393)
Tyan Tempest i5400XT (S5396) (Appears to be popular among NewEgg users.)
Supermicro X7DCA-3
Supermicro X7DCL-i

I look for number and variety of slots, overall bandwidth of slots (e.g., number of x8 or x16 slots) required peripheral ports, number and type of disk interface ports (e.g., SATA and/or SAS), type of memory slots (e.g, ECC or not) and the relative cost of that type of memory, etc. rather than whether the board is labeled as a "server" board or as a "workstation" board.  The server boards are designed around Intel's highest-performance "Xeon" processor family.

If you prefer a single-processor "workstation" or "gaming" board, see the following article for tests and comparisons between Gigabyte, ASUS, and MSI:

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/1368/1/gi...oard/index.html

I suggest that you look through the dual-quad motherboards on NewEgg and read the reviews.

It appears that NewEgg will take back Supermicro boards within certain timeframes if you are not satisfied, but will not do so with Tyan?

Best,
Bruce
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John.Murray
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2008, 10:14:46 PM »
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Quote from: SteveZ
This is part that worries me, I'm hearing more and more about incompatibility of drivers with Vista-64.
Not sure I understand what you mean by "WHQL" signed drivers, care to explain this?

Sure!  A big "dig" many people have with Windows in general is the stability and security of the platform in general.  

One part of the "trustworthy computing" initiative at Microsoft is directly addressed security issues such as buffer overflows, etc that were not only found in applications, but also device drivers (Microsoft famously published an audio driver framework that had serious buff overflow issues - that code was found later in Creative's current drivers)!  A buffer oveflow is computer memory (RAM) reserved for one application or system process being overwritten by another:  it results in either a compromised or unstable system - typically both!

To answer you specifically - I have a Microtek 120 MF film scanner, with, well, ummm, less than stable drivers running under Windows 2000 and XP (check the Silverfast forums for an idea . . . . . ).  It drove me crazy everytime I used it.  When Microtek, to their credit, release Vista compatible drivers - I was amazed at how *stable* every thing suddenly was - it all just works . . .

Microsoft realized this issue and decided to draw a line:  Any device drivers for Vista 64 *will* pass specific stress and compatibilty tests to recieve certification.  You will no longer have the option of "accepting" an un-signed driver like you do now under either XP or Vista 32.

hope this helps - John

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Huib
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« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2008, 02:03:52 AM »
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The workstation I have is not cheap but runs very fast without any problem the lost 4 mounths on Vista 64
Tyan with 2 Quadcores Intel 2.66Hz and 16Gb memory
Primary HD: 2xVelociRaptors in Raid 0
Scratch 2x SamsungF1 in raid 0
Data 2xSamsung F1 in raid1
and a NVIDIA FX1700 which have GPU
Never had an problem to find the right driver

When CS4 is installed, I like to see which Mac runs and handel big files faster.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2008, 02:05:01 AM by Huib » Logged

BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2008, 09:12:19 AM »
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Quote from: Huib
When CS4 is installed, I like to see which Mac runs and handel big files faster.

I know...  

I just hate the iPhone, that stupid gadget is in the end going to cost me tens of hours of waiting in front of my Mac.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
Huib
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2008, 07:55:25 AM »
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CS4 is installed. Amazing with big files. I run together a 2.7Gb file and a 61 layers file of 8Gb without any problem. Easy moving from left to right zooming in WOW!
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tived
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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2008, 11:51:19 PM »
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Quote from: Schewe
Well, the only thing I would take issue with you is the "single biggest" part. It's only one of three main factors; CPU speed, ram & Disk i/o are all potentially the "single biggest" depending on the limitations of the others. Basically, all THREE are important considerations and you can't boost one and ignore the other two and expect to substantially improve Photoshop's performance.

If you have a really fast, multi-core machine AND have lots of ram, then yes, the remaining biggest bottleneck is disk i/o. And now with Photoshop CS4's ability to use video GPU there's a 4th factor in play. Note that GPU doesn't do much if anything for "processing" power but will now have a lot to do with UI speed and there are some features that rely upon the GPU.

So, get the FASTEST multi-core, the MOST amount of ram, WICKED fast disk arrays and a big honking video card and you'll have a kick ass Photoshop machine....

Ok, I stand corrected, I will agree to all of that :-)

Henrik
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narikin
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« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2008, 01:08:04 PM »
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agree with all the above.

right now Vista 64 has a huge advantage over all Mac systems with full 64bit Photoshop CS4.
forget about scratch disks, raid 0, velociraptor drives and the like - go for Vista 64 and plenty of RAM

I'm up and running here with 16gb on my Tyan dual processor motherboard (3 years old, but now like having a new machine!)
unless you have oodles of $, I'd get a decent mid level Vista 64 workstation that can take plenty of RAM.
choose a machine/ motherboard that doesnt use the latest rarest speed of RAM, i.e. $$, but get one with  plenty of slots

oh, and dont forget to use the Readyboost facility in Vista with a CF card, for another 4Gb system memory -certainly not as fast as system RAM, but another nail in the coffin of ever needing a scratch disk at all.

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Don Libby
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« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2008, 02:20:27 PM »
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My main studio computer has been a (for some time now) 64 bit with 8GB of RAM.  I also have one disk spinning at 15k that I dedicated as a scratch disk.  I had used Win XP Pro 64 until about 10 months ago when I switched to Vista Ultimate 64.  In the past 10 months Iíve found Vista to be a very stable platform from which I run CS3 and soon CS4.  Iíve also loaded C1 4.5 Pro and find that this works great as well.

don
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2008, 03:22:28 PM »
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An alternative viewpoint...  

I went through this same decision last year after being a PC user since the IBM XT.  Because of numerous negative issues with Vista -- and I won't elaborate here in an effort to avoid flame wars -- I went Mac.  Yes I had to swallow hard and hold my breath -- for maybe all of three days. Then nirvana.  Not only that, I run three Win-only programs in Fusion running XP and it runs faster in a Mac Pro window than it ever did on my Dell Dual Xeon workstation!  I can honestly say I feel zero desire to go back to Windows machine --

Best of luck,
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