advice on buying mac for scientific computing - tomography

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by shaunb83, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. shaunb83 macrumors member

    Dec 11, 2008
    Colleagues and I are currently exploring options to compute and visualize x-ray tomography data that we have been collecting.

    There are several freeware programs available that all seem very good, and we now need some hardware.

    We've been advised to get the best videocard possible, with RAM and CPU being secondary to this (as well as needing heaps of hard drive space, but that isn't really an issue).

    I'm guessing that a MacPro is probably in order, though am curious whether a high end iMac might be able to do it.

    If any other users, esp. scientists visualizing data, have advice about an appropriate system to buy we'd be grateful.

    I've always been a Mac person, but am considering getting a Windows machine in this case, because it seems as if Apple seems determine to cripple it's computers with inadequate video cards.

    Please contribute your $0.02! Thanks.

    p.s. does anyone have experience with whether employees at an apple store would be willing to install 3-rd party software to test how different mac models perform??
  2. techound1 macrumors 68000


    Mar 3, 2006
  3. rwdds macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2005
    I use my Mac Pro to evaluate 3D Cone-Beam CT Scans for dental implantology. I have to use bootcamp but the visualization is extraordinary. I am also able to process the images in vmware on a MBP. Slower but definitely usable.
  4. Mebsat macrumors regular

    May 19, 2003
    If you ask the store manager (the real manager), nicely and explain that you are seriously considering buying a MacPro vs. another platform, they will usually let you install software on a machine (they are all wiped nightly/netbooted anyway). They will delegate the task to someone and it will probably involve some waiting around for that person to get done selling iPhones. I've done it multiple times.

    Saturday might not be a good day to try this...

    Here's some radiology/microscopy links, radiology might be off-topic (assuming you are more TEM than medicine):
  5. AMB123 macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2010
    Are you planning on using it for reconstruction of projections or just for visualization of already reconstructed 3D data? If just for visualization then an Imac would probably be fine. I have used my PowerBook G4 to manipulate 3D files up to 400mb in size, it's choppy but it works.

    If your looking for a fast recon platform I use an Acceleware AxRecon on one of my CTs and really couldn't be happier. But that is probably best suited for situations where thru put is high.
  6. shaunb83 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 11, 2008
    Thanks for the advice - our data sets are from synchrotron x-ray computed tomography - we'd like to be able to manipulate 1024^3 images (gigabyte).

    Might head down (or phone ahead) to the apple store to see if they can accommodate.
  7. MacVibe macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2009
    I agree with the recommendations about testing the software you are using ahead of time.

    Although Matlab is sold for the Mac, my experience, using the most recent versions, is that it is much faster (numerical calcs) in windows 7 and the graphics are much faster as well. I point the blame at the Matlab port and not the mac.

    Matlab certainly isn't free but I bring this up because it may be much worse for freeware.

    If you are usingfree ware, I suspect you are planning on downloading from macports, or compiling yourself. I think you will be unhappy with any graphics performance because nobody giving away software has actually spent the effort to optimize the the graphics performance. Please follow-up on this thread to prove me wrong as I have similar computing needs.

    If your computing needs are so specialized, I suggest you choose a machine and os that is really best. If you already know what software you want to use, check out reviews, users groups, and forums to see what hardware has the best performance.

    $0.02 !
  8. shaunb83 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 11, 2008
    Hi - We are looking either at using Drishti (Australian National University) or MeVisLab to do both the reconstruction and the visualization.

    There do seem to be a bunch of good Freeware software out there, put together by university and/or government consortiums.

    I think what we'll do is test some systems - probably Mac and Windows based, and see what seems best.

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