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Author Topic: New Powerfull Workstation  (Read 16717 times)
Christopher
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« Reply #40 on: November 17, 2009, 09:05:30 AM »
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Quote from: Gemmtech
Lots of Ram & a couple fast HDs does NOT equal state of the art.  Your 1st problem is you are using a MAC, so you are overpaying (a factor of 2) for a machine and receiving no benefits.  If this were a discussion about 3D animation or even 3D CAD programs, then we could talk, but static images using Photoshop might take some ram, but that's about it.  It's a total waste of cash to overpay today for negligible returns.  What's high performance?  Period?  Have you ever tested various machines with various configurations to see what works best?  I doubt it, if you had, then you wouldn't be using a MAC.  If this is a discussion about best bang for the buck, or even highest performance computing than a MAC doesn't even enter the discussion.

Well I agree on you on the mac part when it comes to costs. I also really doubt that 8 cores bring any real advantage over 4. (Main point between Xeon and i7) However I think there is no better way to speed up working with larger files than fast disks / Raid setup and lots of ram. I agree as well that PS is not state of the art, it is a joke when it comes to usage of modern technologies, than however it is a lot cheaper than 3D animation software and similar stuff. The main problem I really see is that there is no competition which can actually put pressure on Adobe. I mean there really is nothing out there besides PS.

If you look over the Mac Performance Guide one can see some clear benefits to some fast components, however it would be better to actually try out some other system combinations. I would love to see what the speed difference between a 8 core system with 32GB ram compared to a 4 core system with 24Gb ram is. Is it 10 or 15 % ? Which In could care less about, or is it 30 or even 40% which for example would be a lot for me. I haven't found the answer and I fear I won't because there aren't to many test out there.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2009, 09:09:10 AM by Christopher » Logged

Gemmtech
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« Reply #41 on: November 17, 2009, 09:11:17 AM »
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Well that is the main point why I am arguing about different solutions. I'm not planing on buying the most expensive stuff out there. I will get the things which will actually boost my performance. As example, going with a i7 System I would get the i7 920/30 which is quite a low end model, but can easily be clocked to the same speed as the high end models.  And you argument is just old. with electronic you can always wait and get something faster, however I need something which comes close to the 100% which are possible now. Not in 6 months. (besides that your argument is flawed because you just can't get something 6 months later for half the money which is twice that fast. (only if you would buy ONLY Top End products, which would be stupid.)

Some might be able to work with larger files on a medicore system and get coffee between each mouse click, but I certainly can't.

I guess you kind of answered your own question, huh?  I'll agree that if one is using his/her machine for business (as I do with 3D CAD) and the faster you can process the file the more money you can make then it's just a question of payback.  If a machine which costs $10,000.00 more saves you 30 minutes per day at $100.00 per hour then your payback is 200 days or less because you can section 179 the thing so there's also a tax savings as well as a time savings.   If it's 10 minutes savings per day, then the payback is 600 days and if it's 2 minutes per day......................................................... I'm sure you get the point.  Computers are like cars, the final 2% of performance is the most expensive, is it worth it?  If racing cars is your business and winning is the goal, it's worth it.  How many images do you process a day?  How much time can you save?  Is it better to have 2 or 3 medium priced machines running rather than one super high performance machine?   I've been building high performance computers for 12 years and I currently run 6 machines and any two of those machines is faster than my fastest machine.  Some people tend to overspend on what they don't understand.
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Christopher
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« Reply #42 on: November 17, 2009, 09:17:14 AM »
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Quote from: Gemmtech
I guess you kind of answered your own question, huh?  I'll agree that if one is using his/her machine for business (as I do with 3D CAD) and the faster you can process the file the more money you can make then it's just a question of payback.  If a machine which costs $10,000.00 more saves you 30 minutes per day at $100.00 per hour then your payback is 200 days or less because you can section 179 the thing so there's also a tax savings as well as a time savings.   If it's 10 minutes savings per day, then the payback is 600 days and if it's 2 minutes per day......................................................... I'm sure you get the point.  Computers are like cars, the final 2% of performance is the most expensive, is it worth it?  If racing cars is your business and winning is the goal, it's worth it.  How many images do you process a day?  How much time can you save?  Is it better to have 2 or 3 medium priced machines running rather than one super high performance machine?   I've been building high performance computers for 12 years and I currently run 6 machines and any two of those machines is faster than my fastest machine.  Some people tend to overspend on what they don't understand.

Yes I understand you, the for me the frustrating part is that one can find so little information about real performance. I mean yes I can find LOTS of infos on 3D stuff, Video stuff, raw power, games, audio only very little on image software.

I mean even though I use the computer to make money, I would never buy it as a complete package. I mean if I even start to put together a DELL or whatever, I reach a price around 2twiche or 3 times what I would need to pay otherwise. Besides that I love to build computers. I think if I could make digital cameras i would build them myself, too.

I think there is one perfect example. (I know there are many but it is something I love) Intel has their great Extreme edition of every CPU generation. Which in most application is not even 10% faster, but costs twice the money compared to the next CPU in line.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2009, 09:19:42 AM by Christopher » Logged

Gemmtech
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« Reply #43 on: November 17, 2009, 09:42:07 AM »
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Quote from: mmurph
Chrsitopher,

You know as much about this as I do. I'll describe what I did - with improvements for my "slips" - FWIW. (I do have a degree in photography, and one in computer science.)  

My target is usually about 85% on a cost/effectiveness basis. Beyond that it is just cheaper to wait 6 months and buy a better base machine for $600 instead of $2,500 today, as you mention. Plus, I over obsess and overengineer when designing, but on a day-today basis, that extra 5% to 10% is totally irrelevant.

So, I built a core network of 4 machines with 2 gigabit lans. One for "local" data - photoshop macgine, server, nas - and one for "external" data - wirelress lan, laptops, etc.

I would suggest 2 machines as a start:

1) A Photoshop/Lightroom **only** box that may not even have a daily ionternet connection! Probably an i7 920, and

2) An application/data/storage server for **everything** else - any core applications, data storage, offload processing, printing, backups, etc.  Probably a Dell Poweredge quad Xeon 300 or 500 series, no highg-end video required.  With dual gigabit network cards and a hardware Raid controller (a 3rd box would be an actual NAS, in addition to this server.) Base cost $500 + RAID card + RAM + disks.

In the photo machine, I personally would put 3-4 320GB WD 7200 drives in Raid 0 or similar for OS. Apps, and Scratch disk (2 or more separate logical drives of course. As many as you can squeeze. Cloned for instant re-install)  I am ambivalent on SSD - a bit too pricy yet.   (I got the WD Caviar Blue for $30 each. They area great size for OS, aps.)

Then a couple of 1 to 2TB HDD's - one for RAW files (local working copy) and one for WORKING files (lightroom database, etc.) Backed up to the Ap/Data server often over gigabit.

For RAM, I'd do as much as I could with 2GB chips.  The 4GB chips are just too effing expensive! Might as well buy an extra box instead for $600!!!  

My 3rd box is the NAS with 6TB and Windows Home Server. It is off 90% of the time.

My 4th box is my "everythinhg else" machine -a dual core laptop with 4GB  for watching TV, music listening, e-mail, Outlook, etc.  I keep the server as a pure server (Running Hyper-V: was ESXi from VMWare.)

Everything else - bluray players, tv's, 3 other laptops, etc run off of the "external" lan to avoid traffic.   There is actually a bridge to a 3rd router, which is the internet gateway for all.

Just thoughts. Have fun!  (Sorry for typos, hand pain ....)

Cheers,
Michael

This is simply more logical and is close to the way I do things.  I have a cheapo machine that does nothing but internet and email, then I have another cheapo that has all my financial information(SCSI HDs).   I then have a dual xeon configuration (5520) that has all the trimmings, this is my main 3D box it includes all SCSI HDs, (I might add SSDs next year) & 24GB RAM  then I have two 3.06 I7 running on an Intel board (X58) with 12GB again all SCSI HDs.  I mostly stick with Intel or Asus MBs & SCSI HDs for their incredible speed and reliability.  I also own a couple Imacs, an HP laptop and I just purchased a MBP 15" which I took to the Riviera Maya with NO dual boot Windows 7 crutch, I wanted to learn the MAC OS and see what the differences were.  I will tell you this, if you boot up everyday a MAC will save you about 1-2 minutes in boot time    It certainly boots and shuts down quicker than any windows machine that I've ever built.  I just ordered an X25-E for the MBP and will be taking it with me to Bali in 4 weeks.  SSDs have less issues with higher altitude, they consume less power and produce less heat, that's why I was an idiot and spent $700.00 for 64GB.  I also have a NAS, but that's irrelevant.        

If you want to send me some files that I can test on my various machines I could let you know what kind of time savings you'd be looking at?  I don't use that one program you mentioned to do panos, but I do have PS (both Win & MAC versions), LR and Nikon Capture NX2.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2009, 09:45:49 AM by Gemmtech » Logged
Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #44 on: November 17, 2009, 10:19:38 AM »
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I am thinking about an 8 core Mac with 32 Gb memory, with stitching and stacking for macro in mind.
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alain
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« Reply #45 on: November 24, 2009, 04:38:20 PM »
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Quote from: Christopher
Yes I understand you, the for me the frustrating part is that one can find so little information about real performance. I mean yes I can find LOTS of infos on 3D stuff, Video stuff, raw power, games, audio only very little on image software.

I mean even though I use the computer to make money, I would never buy it as a complete package. I mean if I even start to put together a DELL or whatever, I reach a price around 2twiche or 3 times what I would need to pay otherwise. Besides that I love to build computers. I think if I could make digital cameras i would build them myself, too.

I think there is one perfect example. (I know there are many but it is something I love) Intel has their great Extreme edition of every CPU generation. Which in most application is not even 10% faster, but costs twice the money compared to the next CPU in line.
Hi Christopher

I found a small program that can test disk write speed for specific size.  If there's some write caching, it will take it in account.  Continous tests don't do that.

Small HDD test software
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« Reply #46 on: November 25, 2009, 10:19:51 AM »
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I just finished building a Core 2 Quad system and have been very happy with its improved performance.  My simplistic take on the matter:

* load up on as much RAM as you can afford.  This will mitigate the effect of any other slow IOs (HDs, USB, ethernet, etc...).
* Include SSD in your solution.  They are substantially faster in real world apps.  
* Don't pay the premium for bleeding edge.
* I haven't seen it mentioned.  Get a decent video card with lots of VRAM.

Another note, I use PTGui extensively, and one thing I was disappointed to see was that even in its 64-bit version, it never uses more than 2GB of RAM. I am working with 15MP images from a 50D that are saved in TIFF format, but I have never observed PTGui use more than that 2GB of RAM.  The greatest single improvement I have seen with PTGui was the use of a small (30GB) OCZ Vertex SSD as both the source-file location and the temp file location.  This has increased speeds by (estimated) three-fold.
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« Reply #47 on: November 27, 2009, 06:35:38 AM »
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I also think that a fast I/O subsystem is more worth than 8 or more core cpus.

At the moment most software is still not there. Take a look at Mr. Chambers tests (or any other site doing benchmarks on Photoshop).  PS and LR have still a lot place for improving performance on many core machines. They don't scale well. And I estimate that it'll still take some iterations of both programmes before the can efficiently use every core in 8 or more core machines. This isn't only PS's and LR's problem. The vast majority of software is not optimized for high degrees of cpu parallelization. And the major desktops oses (MacOS and Windows) are only now beginning to improve in this respect. Vista/7 and MacOS 10.6 are a big step forward in that regard but both have still plenty of room left. So, hardware at the moment is quite some way ahead and software is only beginning to catch up (3D seems to be on the fore in this regard).

So, a high clocked 4 core system is in most cases as fast (or at least not that much behind) as an equally clocked 8 core system. Yes, of course, depending on how many programmes are running in parallel, responsiveness will likely be better, but the individual programmes will most likely not execute (much) faster.

So, fast SSDs (maybe in RAID 0 or similar configurations), a high clocked (i7) cpu, as much RAM as one needs to fit the largest files in (plus some), is the current way to go for a photographer's workstation in my opinion.
A server for centralized storage of documents and other data is also a good idea when one syncs between the workstation and, say, one's laptop. So even if (or rather when) the workstation is under full load one can still get all the other work done.

Ah, and the advice of getting a card with much vram is especially true with MacOS based machine but also with Windows based ones since both systems try to keep the graphics on the card. For MacOS see: AnandTech and Ars Technica with the later going quite deep into the matter. In the AnandTech article you can scroll down to the end where he gives an example of memory usage in PS CS4. I haven't found anything similar for Windows 7 but this: Ars Technica. Still, more vram helps
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #48 on: November 27, 2009, 08:45:27 AM »
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Quote from: Vautour
So, a high clocked 4 core system is in most cases as fast (or at least not that much behind) as an equally clocked 8 core system. Yes, of course, depending on how many programmes are running in parallel, responsiveness will likely be better, but the individual programmes will most likely not execute (much) faster.
So, if one uses Word to write a post for this forum, while phocus is working its way through a large number of 60 Mpx files and Photoshop is busy, then you would get benefit from an 8 core machine?

I expect that two networked machines would be faster.
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« Reply #49 on: November 27, 2009, 12:45:40 PM »
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Quote from: Dick Roadnight
So, if one uses Word to write a post for this forum, while phocus is working its way through a large number of 60 Mpx files and Photoshop is busy, then you would get benefit from an 8 core machine?

I expect that two networked machines would be faster.

I have been known to have my laptop sitting right next to my desktop--using both simultaneously.  It seems ridiculous to many people, when the PC is really churning on an HDR mosaic panorama, it can be necessary.  Though, with that said, my latest desktop build has yet to be overwhelmed with anything I have thrown at it.

8GB RAM
PCI-ex 1GB VRAM
Intel Cord 2 quad Q9550 (2.8GHz)
30GB SSD for temp files and scratch disk
Internal RAID 0 for storage
« Last Edit: November 27, 2009, 12:46:01 PM by fike » Logged

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« Reply #50 on: November 30, 2009, 10:57:11 PM »
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Have you gotten your new workstation bought/built yet?
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Christopher
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« Reply #51 on: December 01, 2009, 05:11:09 AM »
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Quote from: titan
Have you gotten your new workstation bought/built yet?

Nope still traveling for a few more weeks, but I will certainly write some feedback once I have finished it.
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Vautour
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« Reply #52 on: December 01, 2009, 05:11:40 AM »
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Quote from: Dick Roadnight
So, if one uses Word to write a post for this forum, while phocus is working its way through a large number of 60 Mpx files and Photoshop is busy, then you would get benefit from an 8 core machine?

I expect that two networked machines would be faster.

Basically, yes. See here (and other articles of Mr. Chamber's (the Mac Performance section is very good and thorough and largely applies to Wintel machines as well): Many Core Perfomance w PS CS4/MacOS

From a software development perspective we're at a point now where most of us need to learn new skills to take advantage of the processing capabilities of modern cpus, mainly that we now have more than one cpu core. And we're at the beginning of this process which will take years to fully settle in the minds of the development community.
I guess that the next generations of programmes such as Photoshop will be much better at parallel computing than they are now. But of course especially with such big software like Photoshop you can't make major design changes (and I bet there is need for quite some major overhaul) in one or two iterations. You'd basically need to make something in the way Apple did with MacOS 10.6. Not many new user visible feature but a major overhaul of the underlying architecture (such as introducing (and using) thing like Grand Central as a technology to help developers write concurrent code faster (and easier)). But I guess this won't happen.

And indeed: Is the workstation already built and if so, what's the final configuration, if I may ask?
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« Reply #53 on: December 01, 2009, 07:44:40 AM »
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Quote from: Joh.Murray
Sure!  Populating the 4th memory slot will disable triple memory (interleaved) access.  It is only there for backward support - you are correct in populating by 3's....
The manual for an Intel motherboard states that when all four slots are filled, it may result in "less than optimal performance." It does not state that triple channel is disabled. What would happen, instead, is that memory usage that extends into the range of that of the fourth module -- Channel A, DIMM 1 -- performance in that range will only have a single channel while everything else that fits in the first three -- Channel A, DIMM 0; Channel B; and Channel C -- will still have the performance of triple channel goodness.

You are right, though, that for best performance populate in matching sets of three.

Additionally, I haven't found any X58 motherboards that have eight memory slots. Just three, four and six. (You've stated in another post four and eight slots for an X58 chipset. I'm still figuring out how this forum works as it is very different from phpBB.) And, I have found no evidence to back up your statement regarding reduced performance from having all of the slots filled with a Core i7, with exception to the "less than optimal performance" which I've explained. Though, I haven't really found anything to refute that claim either.

More to the point, however, is that the impact to performance is not noticeable to the end user. We're talking about a difference of seconds or at most a few frames per second in games. A greater impact on performance would be running out of memory and going to the page file because of a ridiculous suggestion to not utilize all of the memory slots. When working with such large files, as is being suggested, it is more important to have the most memory possible available for use. After all, it isn't as if the OP is running Sphinx where memory latency is the determining factor of performance.

A four year old article, but still relevant to this discussion:
Exploring the performance impact of memory latency at The Tech Report.
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« Reply #54 on: December 01, 2009, 01:43:37 PM »
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Quote from: titan
More to the point, however, is that the impact to performance is not noticeable to the end user. We're talking about a difference of seconds or at most a few frames per second in games. A greater impact on performance would be running out of memory and going to the page file because of a ridiculous suggestion to not utilize all of the memory slots. When working with such large files, as is being suggested, it is more important to have the most memory possible available for use. After all, it isn't as if the OP is running Sphinx where memory latency is the determining factor of performance.

A four year old article, but still relevant to this discussion:
Exploring the performance impact of memory latency at The Tech Report.

Great report, but irrelevant to the new architecture the X58 Chipset offers.  The 4th Slot offered on some mainboards is simply there for backward compatibility.  Populating it will turn off on-die QPI memory access and revert back to Front Side bus (northbridge) operation.  QPI (triple channel interleaved memory access) offers up to 25.6 GB/sec bandwidth, effectively doubling that of 1600Mhz FSB.  The architecture furthermore reduces latency.  Populating that 4th slot turns all this off.   If you are looking for an X58 board with that extra slot look no further than Intel's WX58BP:

http://www.intel.com/products/workstation/...bp-overview.htm

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« Reply #55 on: December 03, 2009, 07:06:43 AM »
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Remember in all this discussion of memory performance that the worst DRAM memory performance will always be faster, by many magnitudes, than the fastest hard drives or flash.  I think people overthink RAM speed as a major contributor to overall system performance.  For our work, we are always dealing with scratch disks and pagefiles.  Those are our worst enemies.  

MORE RAM will almost always be better for image processing.
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