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photo computers: dual core, dual cpu, or single?

 
 
Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)
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      05-21-2006
I'm looking at upgrading my computer system to handle my
digital photo work. I run photoshop cs2 plus other applications.
In looking at computers, I see a lot of dual cpu and dual core
(perhaps even two dual-core cpus). My question for digital
photo work is: is there a processing advantage in photoshop
with dual cpu systems (besides the obvious like running
another application with minimal speed loss)?

In general, I do large format photography (600 mbyte to 2 gbyte
image files), and am starting to do digital mosaicking
(I did about a 100 frame 8-mpixel/frame mosaic in Hawaii
last week). I'll be getting a system with minimum 2 gbytes
ram, expandable to at least 4, with drive slots for minimum
four 500-gbyte sata II drives.

Any experience with fast performing systems would be appreciated.
E.g. I'm looking at alienware computers at the moment.

Roger
Photos at: http://www.clarkvision.com
 
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bmoag
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      05-21-2006
The truth is that right now there is not much significant difference between
running CS2 on a fast single core or fast dual core processor even though
some CS2 processes are said to be dual threaded. I base that on my personal
experience processing image files up to 100mbs in size on fast single core
AMD and Pentium systems and a very fast AMD dual core machine. The dual core
machine may be slightly faster but not overwhelmingly so.
However the future may bring more dual threaded programs, CS3?, so it makes
little sense to purchase a single core machine for high end work.
If you are getting 2 gbs of RAM motherboards of all ilk tend to run more
stably with two 1gb sticks rather than 4 512mb sticks.


 
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Steve Wolfe
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      05-21-2006
> In general, I do large format photography (600 mbyte to 2 gbyte
> image files), and am starting to do digital mosaicking
> (I did about a 100 frame 8-mpixel/frame mosaic in Hawaii
> last week). I'll be getting a system with minimum 2 gbytes
> ram, expandable to at least 4, with drive slots for minimum
> four 500-gbyte sata II drives.


Definitely dual-core. Lots of areas of CS2 will take advantage of it. My
workstation has dual dual-cores (that's four cores), and I can often watch
CS2 max out all four cores on heavy operations.

Besides, with dual cores getting as cheap as they are (you can get into
one for as little as $130 now), you might as well. And they'll be more
responsive under load.

If your images are that large, consider getting a motherboard with LOTS of
memory slots. CS3 will reputedly be 64-bit, and will take advantage of all
the ram you can give it. If you're working with 2-gig images, then 4 gigs
of memory would be an absolute *minimum*, and 8 would not at all be too
much. After all, that's only what - two history states, after the other
various functions of photoshop?

steve


 
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=?iso-8859-1?Q?Rita_=C4_Berkowitz?=
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      05-21-2006
Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark) wrote:

> I'm looking at upgrading my computer system to handle my
> digital photo work. I run photoshop cs2 plus other applications.
> In looking at computers, I see a lot of dual cpu and dual core
> (perhaps even two dual-core cpus). My question for digital
> photo work is: is there a processing advantage in photoshop
> with dual cpu systems (besides the obvious like running
> another application with minimal speed loss)?


What are you running now? I'm asking since it might not be worth upgrading.
It's best to look at you I/O and see if that might give you the best bang
for your buck.

Yes, we use dual Xeons and they do show a good boost in performance.

> In general, I do large format photography (600 mbyte to 2 gbyte
> image files), and am starting to do digital mosaicking
> (I did about a 100 frame 8-mpixel/frame mosaic in Hawaii
> last week). I'll be getting a system with minimum 2 gbytes
> ram, expandable to at least 4, with drive slots for minimum
> four 500-gbyte sata II drives.


Most performance hits and bottlenecks are with the disk I/O. Get yourself a
good RAID setup with some fast drives. SATA or SCSI will do fine. I'm
partial to SCSI since they have much better performance and reliability over
SATA.

> Any experience with fast performing systems would be appreciated.
> E.g. I'm looking at alienware computers at the moment.


You're better off building your own. If you want a motherboards or prebuilt
you might want to look at www.supermicro.com. Their systems and MBs are
rock solid and bulletproof.







Rita

 
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Steve Wolfe
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      05-21-2006
> If you are getting 2 gbs of RAM motherboards of all ilk tend to run more
> stably with two 1gb sticks rather than 4 512mb sticks.


Only if you're talking about cheaply-made motherboards. When you get into
motherboards of decent quality, it doesn't matter how many DIMMs you stick
in them, they still work just fine. Of course, they do cost more than the
$100 boards you see at the local computer shop. Wait until your motherboard
has 32 memory slots.

steve


 
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Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)
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      05-22-2006
Rita Berkowitz wrote:

> What are you running now? I'm asking since it might not be worth
> upgrading.
> It's best to look at you I/O and see if that might give you the best bang
> for your buck.


I have a del 8200: 1.8 GHz Pentium 4 with 2 300 GByte ide drives
and 2 GBytes ram. The problem is it is usb 1 only, I also have firewire.

I need to run more than two disk drives, so I need a bigger
enclosure to hold more drives. I find usb 2 too slow for this to
use external drives. Sata II is 3 gbytes/second and has very good
performance, better than scsi (on paper--is this true in practice?).

> Most performance hits and bottlenecks are with the disk I/O. Get
> yourself a
> good RAID setup with some fast drives. SATA or SCSI will do fine. I'm
> partial to SCSI since they have much better performance and reliability
> over
> SATA.


I agree about scsi performance but 500 gbyte scsi drives do not
exist and the large capacity scsi disks are a scam price wise
(many times ide or sata).

I run raid systems at work (about 14 terabytes) and am considering it
for home. But raid must be backed up too. We had one raid
box failure: a fan stopped working and cooked 14 250-gbyte
drives over a weekend. All data were lost. Fortunately it
was backed up onto another raid array in another building.

My plan is 500 gbyte sata 2 drives backed up by 500 gbyte
usb 2/firewire drives (multiple drives that get rotated).
Currently I back up using 3 sets of usb disk drives that
I rotate. A seventh usb drive is also attached to the system
for real time backup. I believe offline backup is safer.

I find ide performance adequate for my needs (it has not been
an issue on my current system). Reading gbyte images is plenty
fast. My main issues are disk storage, a faster cpu that can
use more memory, and faster usb. I also want my current 1.8 GHz
system for a linux box.

>> Any experience with fast performing systems would be appreciated.
>> E.g. I'm looking at alienware computers at the moment.

>
> You're better off building your own. If you want a motherboards or
> prebuilt
> you might want to look at www.supermicro.com. Their systems and MBs are
> rock solid and bulletproof.


I'm open to doing this. Having never done it I am in the dark
as to what to choose. Is there some recommendations listed
somewhere that is current? I'm after good performance, but not
state of the art (you pay too much for state of the art that
just gets surpassed in a few months anyway).

Thanks for the help,

Roger

 
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Rich
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      05-22-2006
Anything as long is it isn't Apple and hasn't got an Intel chip in it.
For motion images, Hollywood studios use AMD machines now almost
exclusively.
See the May (I think) issue of P.C. Magazine.

 
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David J. Littleboy
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      05-22-2006
"Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> I need to run more than two disk drives, so I need a bigger
> enclosure to hold more drives.


Really. I figure one needs _four_ fast internal drives for heavy duty
Photoshopping.

0: OS + other software
1: OS swapping drive
2: Photoshop swapping drive
3: User data

I suppose 0 and 3 could be on the same drive, but on-demand loading of
binaries could interfere with user data reads and writes. (I prefer to keep
user data on a separate drive from the system for other reasons, so I need
(but don't have) all four.)

> I find usb 2 too slow for this to
> use external drives. Sata II is 3 gbytes/second and has very good
> performance, better than scsi (on paper--is this true in practice?).


I have two internal 60GB Sata internal drives and just got a Maxtor 200GB
USB 2 drive.

Nbench gives 49 and 36 MB/sec (write/read) for the Sata and 20 and 23 for
the Maxtor. Althouth that is a nasty hit, it's still livable. (That's for
100 MB test files.)

> My plan is 500 gbyte sata 2 drives backed up by 500 gbyte
> usb 2/firewire drives (multiple drives that get rotated).
> Currently I back up using 3 sets of usb disk drives that
> I rotate. A seventh usb drive is also attached to the system
> for real time backup. I believe offline backup is safer.


You're a better man than I. (I backup to DVD+R and keep my photo archive on
the 200GB drive.)

>> You're better off building your own. If you want a motherboards or
>> prebuilt
>> you might want to look at www.supermicro.com. Their systems and MBs are
>> rock solid and bulletproof.

>
> I'm open to doing this. Having never done it I am in the dark
> as to what to choose. Is there some recommendations listed
> somewhere that is current? I'm after good performance, but not
> state of the art (you pay too much for state of the art that
> just gets surpassed in a few months anyway).


I've looked into building my own, but ordering from Dell has always been
easier. However, getting off the beaten track (e.g. wanting four fast
internal drives) is usually not possible.

By the way, we've been stuck at 3Ghz for three years now, and there are some
pundits* who claim this is all we're getting for the foreseeable future, and
that multiple CPUs is the only way to go. Since I buy into that theory**,
IMHO, if you want something that will stay close to the bleeding edge for
the mid-term, you want at least dual CPUs. Of course, in the short term,
most current software probably doesn't make best use of dual CPUs so it may
be a wasted expense in the near term. (My PC is a 3GHz/2GB two-year old
antique.)

*: http://www.gotw.ca/publications/concurrency-ddj.htm

**: I even _like_ the theory. I really hate it when lazy software developers
claim that efficiency doesn't matter since computers are always getting
faster, and would like to see people spending more time thinking about
computing smarter rather than computing with more bells and whistles.

David J. Littleboy
Tokyo, Japan


 
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Kevin McMurtrie
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      05-22-2006
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
"Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

> I'm looking at upgrading my computer system to handle my
> digital photo work. I run photoshop cs2 plus other applications.
> In looking at computers, I see a lot of dual cpu and dual core
> (perhaps even two dual-core cpus). My question for digital
> photo work is: is there a processing advantage in photoshop
> with dual cpu systems (besides the obvious like running
> another application with minimal speed loss)?
>
> In general, I do large format photography (600 mbyte to 2 gbyte
> image files), and am starting to do digital mosaicking
> (I did about a 100 frame 8-mpixel/frame mosaic in Hawaii
> last week). I'll be getting a system with minimum 2 gbytes
> ram, expandable to at least 4, with drive slots for minimum
> four 500-gbyte sata II drives.
>
> Any experience with fast performing systems would be appreciated.
> E.g. I'm looking at alienware computers at the moment.
>
> Roger
> Photos at: http://www.clarkvision.com


Photoshop can use multiple CPUs for many tasks.

I don't know about Windows, but MacOS X and Linux will run much faster
with lots of RAM. I'd go with about 5 to 12 GB of RAM. Even if you
only have a 32 bit application (4GB limit), the OS can use the rest for
file caches. Photoshop could be swapping image chunks to its temp file
to avoid its 4GB limit but the OS will cache its temp file in the
remaining RAM.
 
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PossumTrot
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      05-22-2006
Since M$ new OS (Vista) will be out within a year (supposedly) you might
want to check the recent info from M$ about minimum hardware requirements.


"Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in
message news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> I'm looking at upgrading my computer system to handle my
> digital photo work. I run photoshop cs2 plus other applications.
> In looking at computers, I see a lot of dual cpu and dual core
> (perhaps even two dual-core cpus). My question for digital
> photo work is: is there a processing advantage in photoshop
> with dual cpu systems (besides the obvious like running
> another application with minimal speed loss)?
>
> In general, I do large format photography (600 mbyte to 2 gbyte
> image files), and am starting to do digital mosaicking
> (I did about a 100 frame 8-mpixel/frame mosaic in Hawaii
> last week). I'll be getting a system with minimum 2 gbytes
> ram, expandable to at least 4, with drive slots for minimum
> four 500-gbyte sata II drives.
>
> Any experience with fast performing systems would be appreciated.
> E.g. I'm looking at alienware computers at the moment.
>
> Roger
> Photos at: http://www.clarkvision.com




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