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Which is better? Processor Configuration vs. Graphics Card for beefy files

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#1
JohnDriz

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I wasn't sure where to post this hardware question and thought software seemed to be the closest fit. I'm on the verge of breaking down and buying a new laptop but first wanted to get a few opinions.

I've heard from various perhaps not so reliable sources that upgrading my graphics card to one with more ram will make a significant difference when I'm choking on 100+mb .ai files or creating raster mosaics. Is this true or would it make more sense to upgrade to a 6 core processor configuration?

#2
David Medeiros

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My understanding is AI won't make as much use of the increased graphics power from a new card as it would from simply maxing out your on board memory. Go for as much memory as you can get in there and you will see an decent increase in performance with large AI files.

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#3
James Hines

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Lets look at it from this point of view:

Lets say you need to use GIS to process your data faster then it does now with a regular built in graphics media card. Now many people do not know this but our field is now starting to use super chip technology just like the video game design industry for faster & better performance of the work flow. Manifold GIS, (boy where's version 9?) as far as I know & please correct me if I'm wrong has grandfathered this, & other companies such as ESRI are starting to catch on. Instead of waiting to process GIS files for countless hours super chip technology reduces the amount of time & therefore creates a better work-flow.

As for a processor I have myself 2 gig of memory & when it comes to processing a large image I simply do not have enough memory. I strongly suggest to pay for a minimum 4 gig's of memory but recommend a full blown 8 especially if you are going to produce large rasters for mapservers.

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#4
dsl

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If you are working locally, don't underestimate the power of having a faster hard drive. Something with 7200 RPMs, or if you can afford a solid state drive I understand those are screaming fast.

Cheers,
David

#5
David Medeiros

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http://kb2.adobe.com...326/326405.html (Mac)

http://kb2.adobe.com...320/320782.html (Win)

Here's what Adobe has to say about increasing performance (there may be some updates to this for CS5). Under hardware configuration you'll see that processor speed and installed memory are the top two items and there is no mention of graphics cards. In addition to HD speed as David mentioned HD size is also a factor as limited free space means fragmented and slow files.

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#6
Andrew Patterson

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Here's what Adobe has to say about increasing performance (there may be some updates to this for CS5). Under hardware configuration you'll see that processor speed and installed memory are the top two items and there is no mention of graphics cards. In addition to HD speed as David mentioned HD size is also a factor as limited free space means fragmented and slow files.


That's pretty much what I was going to say. First, you need enough RAM to open the file. If you have that (and enough for working with it), CPU is your best bet for speed. That said, anything past 2GB available for Illustrator on Windows doesn't help. I think its 3GB on Mac for CS5, but don't quote me on that.

There were plans at one point for utilizing the graphics card for rendering, but that never materialized.
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#7
Adam Wilbert

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It's interesting that Adobe has different things to say about Solid State Drives for Illustrator and Photoshop. For Illustrator, they say that an SSD would be helpful. For Photoshop, they say that it typically won't. In Photoshop most of the operations happen in RAM, so aside from startup, PS doesn't go to the hard drive scratch discs very often.

http://kb2.adobe.com...ate_Disks__SSD_

It's helpful to take a peek at the Photoshop efficiency meter after a typical work session when contemplating hardware upgrades. Anything less than 100% means you're running out of system ram and using the scratch disc.
Attached File  ram_2.jpg   11.4KB   24 downloads

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#8
razornole

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I almost don't want to comment because I know so little about computers other then how to drive certain programs.

With that being said, I love my graphics card. I've never been able to handle raster like I can now. I can just scroll around an image like I do on my smart phone. I can start at the top left corner of a 46" map and end up at the bottom right corner in less then a half second. I just click and throw the mouse in the direction I want to go and click again when I want to stop, and instantly my raster is in full resolution.

Is it my RAM (8 gigs) or graphic card (512mb)? I don't know, but I love the results.

kru
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#9
JohnDriz

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Wow there is a lot of great information from everyone here. One of the core questions I've come across is how much ram do different versions of Illustrator or ArcMap use? I've heard that CS5 is more efficient and allows more ram to be used than it did in CS3 & CS4 for windows. My main issue is crashing Illustrator with large raster images.

#10
Andrew Patterson

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Wow there is a lot of great information from everyone here. One of the core questions I've come across is how much ram do different versions of Illustrator or ArcMap use? I've heard that CS5 is more efficient and allows more ram to be used than it did in CS3 & CS4 for windows. My main issue is crashing Illustrator with large raster images.


Nothing changed on Windows w.r.t. the amount of RAM it can use. Its hard-capped at 2GB. That's a limitation of the OS; I seem to recall that Microsoft flirted with removing the cap in Vista but found that too many legacy drivers crashed when they did. So blame lousy driver writers for that one. This cap should be gone in true 64-bit applications on 64-bit versions of Windows Vista & 7 though (otherwise, what's the point of 64-bit?). So cross your fingers and hope for a 64-bit Illustrator.

In CS5, I believe they upped the limit on the Mac. I had some text from an Adobe person at one point where he or she explained the difference; I might have quoted it or mentioned it sometime on this forum in answer to a similar question.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't have more than 2GB of RAM of course. The rest of the OS & other applications have to fit in there too; having 4GB should be enough to give Illustrator the full 2GB to stretch its legs unless you've got other big applications running simultaneously.

I should mention though that I've rarely seen Illustrator make it to 2GB. Usually it dies out around 1.6GB (I might have made it to 1.8GB once or twice). That's because they do their best to allocate memory smartly, but it still a checkerboard of pages; if you're opening something that big (e.g. a big raster), chances are it needs a hell of a large block of contiguous memory and the odds of there being such a block go down the more memory is in use. So even if you're opening a file that theoretically should fit into 2GB, it might not.
Andrew Patterson
Lead Software Architect
Avenza Systems Inc.

email: andrew@avenza.com
phone: 416.487.5116




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