Need to speed up this Mac!

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by daveeed, Nov 14, 2009.

  1. daveeed macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    #1
    I am setting up a new mac pro for an artist client and am starting to freak out about being able to make it fast enough. Client is an artist who works exclusively in photoshop and creates files with many layers. Currently client is working on a PowerPC G5 with 2.5GB RAM, original 74GB hard drive, original video card, PShop 7, 20" Cinema Display.

    Client is typically working with 11" x 17" 300ppi files that have many (over 500) layers and average about 350-500MB on the disk with the largest taking up 862MB. To give you an idea what it is like to work with these files consider this:
    862MB file on the disk- when open in photoshop lower left info shows 64.9MB/2.34GB
    File takes almost 6 minutes to actually open!!
    Just redrawing the screen (zooming in or out) can actually take 42 seconds!! I'm not sure how my client was actually tolerating this. Question is will the new MacPro give me the improved performance required and how can I trick it out so my client can be productive? Here is the machine:

    MacPro 2.93 Quad core running PS CS4
    Will bring up the RAM to 12GB
    Will use stock video card (hopefully it will suffice)
    Big question is the storage- here is what I am thinking:
    Use an SSD for boot drive and applications in optical drive bay
    HD1 and HD2- Good 1TB drives in stripe raid 0 for data and scratch disc
    HD3- Good 2TB drive for full backup

    option 2 is to have a third drive in the RAID for more speed
    option 3 is to have HD1 and HD2- Good 1TB drives in stripe raid 0 for data and scratch disc, HD3 and HD4- Same Good 1TB drives in stripe raid 0 for backup.

    My question: Which drive setup do you think makes the most sense and what specific drives do I use for the RAID. Do I need the more expensive enterprise drives which cost 2x a WD caviar black? Is there anything I am missing that will really improve the speed? Thanks!
     
  2. zachsilvey macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Battle Ground
    #2
    When redrawing the screen for zooming and panning around the image in photoshop, as well as a lot of other things, cs4 uses OpenGL heavily which means the beefier the graphics card the faster it works. I don't have personal experience with the Geforce 120 gt but when working with 10 megapixel raw files the old 7300 gt works very well so I assume the 120 gt will be sufficient.

    I don't have much advice for the drives except that beware of raid 5 if you plan on using Apples Raid Card, I have had issues when restoring after a lost drive.
     
  3. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    #3
    Basically, Enterprise HDDs have a UBE rating (Unrecoverable Bit Error) of 10E15* as compared to 10E14 on normal drives.

    If you really want speed and redundancy, maybe put the OS/App disc on one of the ODD-SATA ports and run RAID-10 on four 3.5" drives for the usage array, using the largest 7200RPM drives you can afford (a general trend is that the larger the drive on the same RPM will have a greater data transfer rate). Just realise that on software RAID the array wouldn't be seen on a Windows partition.

    Dunno about booting from the ODD-SATA ports, though. I assume its doable (people do it with Windows). That and you would need a 5.25" to 2.5" adapter/bracket/enclosure of some kind. Then again, a solid-state drive has no moving parts (why not use duct tape :p:D)

    And sorry about all the parentheses.

    *1 error per 10^15 bits
     
  4. frimple macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #4
    Um... why don't you try it and see? You're providing a service for a client, yes? Seems like in your line of work you would benefit from this knowledge firsthand so I suggest trying out your theory with some real world data. People can hypothesize all they want but the proof in the pudding is the real world experience. I think you're in a unique position to try it and then tell us the results :)
     
  5. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #5
    Go for RAM instead of a scratch disk and use an octad because it gives you way more RAM and six memory channels. Use 4x8GB plus 4x4GB sticks for 48 GB of six channel RAM and you will max out the memory capacity and bandwidth of the Nehalem system design.

    For quick loading you can use a 160 or 320 GB Intel Gen2 SSD in ODD bay "B".

    Primary mass storage can be done on a RAID0 of 2X 1,5TB drives. Backup on 2X 2 TB drives. Run religious automated backups and your client will not need much in the way of mirroring.
     
  6. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #6
    More RAM is better than any SSD or fast HDD. Although Photoshop is 32-bit on OS X and therefore limited to 3GB of RAM, OS X will allocate the remaining free RAM as a scratch disk for your Photoshop needs.
     
  7. 300D macrumors 65816

    300D

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #7
    You can also make a RAM disc with the following commands in the terminal.

    Code:
    diskutil erasevolume HFS+ "r1" `hdiutil attach -nomount ram://4612000`
    The last number being block size.

    To make bigger than 2.2gb, use multiple commands changing "r1" to "r2", "r3", etc and combine then using the following command.
    Code:
    diskutil createRAID stripe RaidRamDisk HFS+ /Volumes/r1 /Volumes/r2 /Volumes/r3
     
  8. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #8
    There is also the option to fit 64 GB of four channel RAM. It would be a bit slower than 48 GB of six channel but still be massively faster than any disk memory.
     
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #9
    Option 1:
    • Put the OS drive in the empty optical bay
    • Use a 3x drive stripe set; HDD 1 - 3 (only provides throughput, no redundancy)
    • Backup disk in HDD 4 (2TB model would give some room)

    Option 2:
    • Put the OS drive in the empty optical bay
    • Build a software RAID 10 (gives improved throughput + redundancy, but not as high a throughput as a 3x stripe set)
    • Backup via external

    Backups could be done via an eSATA card and a Port Multiplier based external enclosure as well, in order to fit additional capacity (i.e. JBOD) if 2TB is too small. A little more now could save the MTBR (mean time between replacement) of the backup drive (rate of capacity use). You can use consumer drives here.

    Enterprise drives would be recommended (i.e. WD RE3's), though it's possible to use consumer models (Caviar Blacks are still decent, but doesn't have the MTBF in terms of hrs of an enterprise drive).

    Beyond that, you'd need to go with a proper RAID card (containing an NVRAM solution for parity based arrays and more ports than an MP can provide).

    Since the client wants speed in graphics, the HD4870 would seem a better choice as well.

    PS can only use 2 cores though. So a Quad core could run two instances simultaneously. An Octad would be overkill IMO, unless there's other software not mentioned to utilize the system.
     
  10. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #10
    The proposal was made to maximise RAM use instead of disk and not based on core utilization. If speed is the objective RAM would be faster than any disk.
     
  11. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    Location:
    NYC
    #11
    Why stripe them? Just create a bigger RAM disk? :confused:
     
  12. flatfoot macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    #12
    Because for some reason the maximum size for a single RAM disk is 2.2GB in OSX.

    I would, however, concatenate the RAM disks because striping them will actually slow things down. (see macosxhints-forum)
     
  13. daveeed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    #13
    Thank you for all your help!!! It is true I am providing service for a client but I am not getting paid. That is because this is my only client and also my spouse! Nevertheless, I still have to provide good solutions.

    All your advice is very helpful. Some I understand (like OpenGL and RAID 0) and some I don't- like what is a RAM disc and how do I make commands in a terminal? I'm not sure I want to get into that. I can buy components and stick them in though and hook up the wires and install software!

    I can tell you this- the computer MacPro 2.93 QuadCore is on order- I cannot change that. I will be adding RAM for a total of 12GB but I could add another 4GB for 1GB6 total if it would help. I have read that you can put an SSD boot drive n the 2nd optical bay and just let it dangle.
     
  14. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    #14
    Terminal is OSX's command line interface, something akin to Command Prompt on Windows systems. Basically, one types in commands instead of going through a GUI - some commands, such as the RAMdisc setup can only be done through Terminal. You can access Terminal in the Utilities folder in OSX. ((My Utilities folder is in the Applications folder))

    A RAMdisc is where the computer creates a disc on the installed RAM instead of an actual drive that you plug in. Bad news bears, anything saved there disappears with a shutdown. Its the fastest type of drive, but I don't like the tradeoff.

    I would follow Nanofrog's advice. Personally I would opt for option two (since I described it in my earlier post :p), but it all depends on what feels better for your spouse.
     
  15. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #15
    11x17 @ 300 PPI with 500 layers and it takes only 6 minutes to load. That's not too bad depending on the layer options. It does depend tho. If it's just simple opacity levels and/or alpha (layer) masks then that's kinda slow but if he's using layer blending modes or any of the advanced blending modes and/or (effects) layer styles then this is mostly a photoshop limitation. If the later he probably will not get that much more speed out of a brand new 2.93 with 16 GB of RAM. It might (maybe) be cut down to 4 min. It would be the very best of ideas to get one file from him, take it to the Apple center, copy it onto their hard drive, install the trail Photoshop, and play with it. Then you'll know for sure! But I can almost promise you that you'll get about the results I mention here.

    I just created a 11" x 17" x 300 PPI image with 500 simple opacity adjusted layers each with a paint-dab or stroke in it and on an 8-core 2.66 GHz Intel Xeon machine it took 70 seconds to load. That's loading it from a 3-drive RAID0. If the storage device were a single slow drive typically found in a PPC Mac you can add about 5 to 8 seconds to that. This in and of itself is interesting because it shows that even a drive 4 to 6 times faster than the one he's currently using will only yield small improvements - meaning the "bottleneck" is indeed PS and not the drives (for loading and saving anyway... scratch performance is a little different). Saving my sample file took 35 seconds and again you can multiply this time by "whatever" if the layer mixing and etc. are anything more than simple opacity blends.

    The 40 seconds to update the screen is likely because it's needing to read from or write to it's scratch disk. While editing, the scratch disk can get fairly huge. The file alone loaded into PS occupies about 4 Gigs or system memory (divided among VM, SM, and Scratch) so that's over his current limits already, right? The best scratch drive for PS by the way, is a fast SSD (64 GB would be way fine! - or even better two 32 GB SSDs in RAID0). Setting up a RAID of conventional (rotational media) drives for "storage" of PS documents is a waste of time and money - single drives are easier to deal with, roughly the same speed (for PS file loading), and less risky. Anyway when updating the screen from a scratch drive like he's using, 40 seconds is very common even on the newest/fastest MacPro. The SSD will help in this area more than anything else. For RAM, the amount needed is AT LEAST 16 GB of RAM and hopefully 32 GB. Just changing my file to 16 BPP momentarily for an edit and then back (twice with minor edits) consumed all of the 3 GB of IP memory and another 22.3 GB of scratch disk to complete the processing and display it. Later when PS goes 64-bit all of that can be contained in RAM alone thus speeding things way up. Had I only 12 GB of RAM when the scratch size reached something like 32 GB (which is fairly common) my system too would take a loooong time to update the screen - presumably even with a 64-bit PS. I've seen more than 5 min. a few times and I have 12 GB of RAM (enough for all of PS's current demands). In fact the redraw that occurred the second time I went to 16 BPP took 3 minutes and 41 seconds. The conversion itself took about 15 minutes - I didn't time that part tho. So 40 seconds is well within reason when talking about photoshop. :p Many or most of the edits that cause a redraw after that will again take about three and half minutes to redraw the image. Zooming and scrolling is faster once it's finished redrawing the data to the (flat) image buffer (which is what you actually see on screen).


    Anyway, knowing what's going on can help you make the right purchase decisions for your pal. I think for PS, I would want maxed out RAM for when 64-bit PS ships, an SSD for scratch speed, one large HDD for the system and image files, and another (external!) HDD of about the same size for backup. The CPU speed may not be as critical as these things. Although CPU core speed (GHz) of course does make a difference I'm not sure it's worth the thousands extra you'll pay for it and in the vast majority of edit sessions I doubt it's even noticeable.
     
  16. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #16
    I run 8GB RAM disks all the time…

    For example:
    Created a 4GB RAM disk
    [​IMG]
     
  17. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #17
    Based on what Tesselator is saying you better find out if 32 or 64 GB is enough RAM for 64-bit Photoshop if you want real fast operation. I suspect changing that spec on order for an octad would make sense just to get 8 RAM slots.

    I'm running OS X from a 2 x 80 GB Intel Gen2 RAID0 array in the second optical bay. They run of an Areca-1210 RAID card. I have all HDD ports free for mass data storage and backup and can make clones via eSATA to external disks.
     
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #18
    12GB would be sufficient though, and the 12GB kit (3x 4GB) has come down. OWC's selling it for $467.99USD.

    Then follow what flatfoot is saying. Concatenate say 3 - 4x RAM disks (2.0GB each) for 6 or 8GB, and the balance is left for the OS and application.

    Fast disks (HDD stripe set and SSD) also load the RAM disks faster as well, and the idea is to minimize the bottlenecks as much as possible.

    I left the possibility of an Octad out, as the OP mentioned a specific Quad (presumed that the budget wouldn't have allowed for an Octad model).
     
  19. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #19
    I don't think so. Remember, he says his pal is editing 500 layer images. For now while PS is 32 bit, 12 GB is about right: 3 GB of image process cache, ~ 3 GB of PS app memory, 3 GB for the OS + it's cache(s), and some room left over to maneuver. So that's the recommended minimum IMO. With 500 layers (especially if they are significant) he will be hitting the PS drive cache frequently.

    When PS goes 64-bit however (6 months? 1 year max?), for his purpose I think 24 GB would be a tad on the light side and 32 GB would be the sweet spot. Sure it costs money but what doesn't? IMHO, if money is a significant factor, it would be FAR more beneficial to go for the 8 RAM slotted 2.66 or 2.26 octad and spend the difference ($1,400 and $2,600 respectively) on RAM. PS is a one core pony for the most part (and will be for the foreseeable future) so we're only really talking about 0.4 GHz from the to 2.26 to the 2.66 or 0.27 GHz from the 2.66 to the 2.93. 32 GB of memory (8 x 4GB kit) is only about $1300 right now.

    The extra RAM will be the difference between waiting 3 minutes for a redraw and only having to wait 10 or 15 seconds - probably several times on every image - pretty much no matter what Mac model he gets. If he goes with the Quad MP tho the same amount of RAM will cost him around $2,500.


    Also keep in mind that fairly conclusive tests (done by yours truly) have shown that faster drives (even 10x faster) will not load layered images into PS significantly faster than slow drives.
     
  20. hugodrax macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 15, 2007
    #20
    Wont a ramdisk just be paged or does it become wired memory?
     
  21. justit macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 1, 2007
    #21
    :rolleyes:
     
  22. justit macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 1, 2007
    #22
    Much better advice. Nothing in Photoshop uses octo, it's completely overated. And the day it does, there will be much better chipsets at cheaper prices.
     
  23. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #23
    I do not think that the linked RAM would be the best choice. Intel strongly recommend ECC RAM. UDIMMs in 1 and 2 GB density and RDIMMs in 4, 8 and 16 GB density.
     
  24. KeriJane macrumors 6502a

    KeriJane

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Location:
    ЧИКАГО!
    #24
    If you're coming from a G5 you're going to love a Mac Pro. :)

    My advice is for:

    Plenty of memory - 6 or 12GB should be fine until 64-bit PS comes out. I'm not sure how the Nehalem MP's handle memory, but try to get maximum channels enabled. Is that 3 or 6 channel? I know the older MP's had 4-channel if you used 4 or 8 slots.

    A strong video card - the GT120 is OK, the 4870 has a 256-bit memory bus which may help.

    I advise using Caviar Black drives instead of the expensive and unproven SSDs. The Caviar Blacks do great for me over here. Maybe give SSD's a little more time to mature. In a year or two those things are going to be faster, more reliable and cheaper.

    For Hard Drive arrangement, maybe 1 for boot, 2 or 3 for a RAID array and an external Firewire800 enclosure for Time Machine backup.

    If you're Photoshopping, don't get all cheap on the monitor. You want something that is color accurate and fairly large. Apple Cinema displays are outstanding as are the likes of NEC, LaCie, LG and EIZO professional or proofing systems. Good resources are SWOP, IDEAlliance, GRACol.

    Here's a couple of links:
    http://www.swop.org/certification/monitorList.asp

    http://www.lge.com/products/model/detail/w2420r.jhtml

    Have Fun with that new Mac Pro....
    You're gonna love it! :D

    Keri
     
  25. 300D macrumors 65816

    300D

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    May 2, 2009
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #25
    2.2GB is the biggest OSX can produce.

    Only possible with the 64-bit kernel of SL.
     

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