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Old Jul 29, 2006, 1:50 PM   #21
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On the topic of hardware for image processing - I design image exploitation systems, yes the images that the end users slam around are 500MB to 1GB++ in size.

A fast processor is certainly a good start. Usually something with a lot of integer speed, AMD processors works very well here. Multiple core processor chips and or multiple processor chips will ONLY help if the software is written to take advantage of having multiple processing units (its called multi-threading). Check with the software vendor of your imaging package - if they take advantage of multiple cores - it will help. It they are going to and your getting an new system then it will help when the next software upgrade comes. Otherwise, a fast CPU.

Next Memory - Max out the box (if it 32 bit) with 2 GB of memory. It is not all that expensive now - If you have an older box with less, go to http://www.pricewatch.com and find order some additional memory. It will speed things up quite a bit.

Disk - Most of you are using Windows - and windows has a cach memory that is used a lot. A fast disk interface will produce great results here. If your getting a new box specify SCSI Fast and Wide either 160 or 320 with at least a 10,000 rpm drive, 15,000 rpm would be better. The reason here is that Windows is not like Unix/Linux where as it utilizes memory first then when it get close to running out then starts using the disk for swapping (i.e., virtural memory). Windows is optimized - actually designed and written with the understanding that your going to open up another window at any moment, thus they are going to be ready and swap early and often to be ready. You can have 2 GB and it will try to keep 1GB free and swap like crazy. There is very little users can do about this. Developers will create ram disks to fool windows and cache the image parts there, thus keeping a high memory utilization. Bottom line fast disks will certainly help.

Bus - the PCI bus has become a bottle neck, especially between the processor and disk, the PCIx or ePCI has a much higher transfer rate. The higher end workstations will be using the newer bus. Using a compatable high end caching disk controller will help a great deal here also.

RAIDs - you can RAID your disks, thus spreading the thruput across multiple drives. Your talking money here. Unless your out on the ragged edge - not worth it. If it takes a few hours to process an image - start early. HP has an imaging lab in Colorado, that specializes in only designing and building very high end imageing workstation using COTS parts. Bring $$$$$

All in all - a 2.8 GHZ processor, 2GB memory and a fast disk all contribute to a fast imaging workstation.

Now notice I did not address the video card - normally they are not used for the image processing. However - on some very custom software there is a trend to use multiple high end video cards as numerical processing units. This type of custom software is very expensive. Normally a standard gaming video card with OpenGL for around $25 to $50 with 128MB of memory on it is all that is needed, and it will be very fast (The kids will be using your system for online games).
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 9:17 AM   #22
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Many thanks for putting the facts on the table about the "whys" and "hows" of how a computer handles photo images.At least for me, that is very helpful. Many thanks!

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