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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:21 pm 
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Hi,

I need to stitch large numbers of images and my current computer can't cope, so I am thinking of upgrading/building a new machine just for running APP. I'd like to know what people recommend.

The problem: I want to stitch 250 to 500 (and maybe more) 8Mpix images. I was told in the APP forum by someone that this makes me a "heavy user" (they didn't say where I can find a rehabilitation programme though :-)).

I am currently using Windows XP Professional (32-bit) on an Athlon 64 3500+ running at 2.2GHz with 2GB RAM. With this setup I can render upto 250 8Mpix images in about 8 hours. Any more than 250-ish causes APP to crash.

Solution 1: Upgrade current kit. Ideas: try overclocking, get more RAM, use a 64-bit operating system and 64-bit APP - I am happy to move to Linux but not happy to pay for a 64-bit Windows OS.

Solution 2: Build a new system. I can afford £350 ($690, €430) for a new processor, motherboard and RAM. For this I can get an Intel quad-core running at 2.8GHz, an ASUS P5K and 8GB RAM. Do you think that would be money well-spent? My friend bought a 1.8GHz processor for £50 and overclocked it to run at 3GHz and his system is way faster than mine. I have no experience at overclocking but obviously I'd rather pay £50 than £150 for a processor.

NB I am not interested in paying money to squeeze out a bit more performance: the difference between 8 hours rendering time and 7 hours is not significant to me.

Any thoughts or suggestions welcome!

Happy Rendering,

A

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:02 pm 
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1) You dont need more ram. Future versions of APP are supposed to use more available ram, but you dont NEED it.
2) You dont need a faster processor. Faster processor = always faster stitching, but you dont NEED it.
3) Use the 64bit version of APP. If you dont mind learning to use a new operating system then install Ubuntu (the easiest and closest to Windows, recommended) otherwise buy a 64bit copy of Windows (bla). First make sure your processor is 64 bit. This will allow you to work with much bigger panos on your current hardware. The cheapest solution.
4) If you want to upgrade, the processor has primary importance. Secondary is a lot of swap space and HD speed. Tertiary is RAM.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:50 pm 
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Thanks for that DrSlony.

DrSlony wrote:
Future versions of APP are supposed to use more available ram

Are you saying that currently APP doesn't always use as much RAM as is available? How much does it use in that case?

DrSlony wrote:
Faster processor = always faster stitching

... and faster rendering I assume?

Processors: Do you have any idea how much of a stitching and/or rendering speed-up I'll get with a 2- or 4-core CPU? (Assume I am using 64-bit APP under Ubuntu.)

Aeris

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Last edited by Aeriscera on Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:18 am 
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1) Are you saying that currently APP doesn't always use as much RAM as is available? How much does it use in that case?
Yes. APP-1.4.1 uses up too 500MB RAM, but future versions will use more, read this post.

2) ... and faster rendering I assume?
Yes. 4 cores = 4 times more computing than on 1 core, 4 concurrent parallel stitching processes so four times as fast, more or less. 64 bit does not mean twice as fast as 32 bit (although it will be a bit faster), but it does mean that you will be able to stitch much bigger panos because APP and your operating system will be able to adress a lot more memory.

ps. I suggested Ubuntu because it is the most popular linux distribution for new users and the most automated, which means two things: a) it is the distribution under which you will have to do the least amount of manual tweaking, and b) it has the largest support group. I personally started my linux adventure with Gentoo knowing that it was powerful yet manual with a steep learning curve. If you dont mind sacrificing several months of your life on Linux then try something like gentoo and then you will understand linux, otherwise use something automated like Ubuntu :]


Last edited by DrSlony on Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:21 am 
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Ubuntu sounds like my kind of OS.

Thanks again.

A

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:36 pm 
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I have a couple of different thoughts:

1. Turn your Anti-Virus runtime off for the APP temp directory (and make sure you have a dedicated temporary directory for APP).

2. how many hard disks do you have? IMO, APP is very disk intensive, especially with larger panos. I think you can speed things up by using five disks:
- put programs on their own drive (usually C: ). don't put a partition here.
- put windows swap file on the next physical disk
- put APP temp space on the next physical disk
- put your source files on the next physical disk
- put your destination pano on the next physical disk

I think APP uses temp images from the APP temp directory, so it may not hurt to have the source and destination files on the last disk.

If the disks are different speeds, APP temp space should probably be on the fastest disk, and (I'm guessing here) the windows temp space on the next-fastest.

The advantages here:
- sooner or later, you'll need more disk space. No one ever has enough, especially with large panos.
- if you decide to get a new system, you can move the disks over easily enough

Other things to consider:
- If you're using SATA drives, is a controller card may be faster than an on-the-motherboard controller?
- what's the rotation rate and cache size of each hard drive?


Last edited by hankkarl on Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:51 pm 
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hankkarl i dont think theres need for 5 disks. You dont need a separate disk for windows, source photos, temp space etc.

You have a disk that we will call SDA, your pc boots up, neccesary things like OS go into RAM, end of OS disk use (almost, i dont count tiny scarce disk accesses like a screensaver loading). Open APP, APP goes into RAM. Open source files (I keep them on a separate disk but thats for security reason, if that disk crashes there will be only photos to recover) in APP, open the pano editor. APP copies these photos to its own designated temp folder and works on them there. All the work it does is in that temp dir, many huge files are written - that temp folder is the most important thing here. It needs to be on a fast disk that during rendering wont be busy with other things. Lets call that disk SDB. It would even be better if that temp folder was actually an array of disks. The pano destination folder could be on SDA since APP will be merging temp files from SDB, so there is no head jumping backwards and forwards like crazy. Thats 2 disks, SDA and SDB. You can OPTIONALLY have a separate disk like I do for source photos, a separate one for your OS's swap space, etc... but they wont speed up rendering, as long as the APP temp dir is on its own free disk (well you can even have photos on a separate disk and have the APP temp dir on that same disk, as far as I know once APP reads those photos once it wont read them again).

One thing I do not know is how APP uses the OS swap space. APP has its own temp dir, and your OS has its own temp space (in Windows its probably on your C: drive unless you moved it and its not a folder but a file called pagefile.sys, in Linux its a dir). APP's temp dir is used very intensively. I dont know whether it uses the OS temp/swap space a lot. If it does, then that should be on an unused disk as well.

To recap, have a free disk for APP's temp dir (or even better a RAID), and POSSIBLY another free disk for your OS's swap space, and you will get max performance. Using more disks is pointless as far as APP's stitching speed goes.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:54 am 
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http://www.autopano.net/forum/t521-cpu-graphics-card-dual-core-s

I still hold my opinion about the 1 : 3 : 7 proportion, at least for my workflow. If you're working with plenty of (and/or big) input images, the proportion should be something like 3 : 5 : 7.

RAM, HDD, CPU that is.

But I consider 2GB RAM an absolute minimum nowadays, 4 or 8 GB on XP 64-bit - a standard. Even more now with 1.4.1 and x64 APP builds.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:32 am 
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I agree. First RAM ! On 64bits version, smartblend can work in memory. That's 10x factor at least.
Secondly 2 HDD : one for temp and one for final render file destination
CPU : a standard q6600 quad core is largely enough.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:33 pm 
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This may not be a lot of use because I've only just downloaded the trial version and used it once on a selection of 14 pics!
I have a Quadcore PC running Windows XP Pro 64 bit with 4 GB 800Mhz RAM and just about everything I do is noticeably faster. AutoPano took no time at all to work its magic on those 14 x 5Mb pics: my jaw is still on the floor! :D

My previous PC was an Athlon 3700 with 2Gb RAM, & XP Home. A graphics render which took 3hr 10 mins on that only took 44mins on the Quadcore :D

But if you do any of your own printing, please make sure you carefully check the availability of printer drivers for 64bit OS. I made a mistake with mine; luckily there are other PCs on my home network still running 32bit which can use it.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 2:32 am 
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You can always have a dual boot machine, x64 your main OS & x86 for those programs which have driver issues & hence print from the other OS.

isn't XP x64 having a 32 bit emulator which lets you have 32bit driver also install on x64 OS?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:32 pm 
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AlexandreJ wrote:
I agree. First RAM ! On 64bits version, smartblend can work in memory. That's 10x factor at least.
Secondly 2 HDD : one for temp and one for final render file destination
CPU : a standard q6600 quad core is largely enough.

OK, so I assume the source files may be on the same disk as the final render with no performance penalty.

But what about windows swap space? This probably depends on what else is going on on your computer, and how much RAM you have, but how much RAM do you need os that the windows swap space will not be used if all you are running is APP? And what if you're running email, photoshop, virus checker, etc in the background?

Right now, RAM is cheap and HDDs are cheap. So if I had three HDDs (Need to get a third just becasue I want more room), what is the best configuration from APPs viewpoint?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:53 am 
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My current production PC is a Q6600 with 8GB RAM and two 74GB Raptors. One for the OS (XP64) + all system and programs' temp folders + swap and the other for the source and destination. Needless to say, I run a PowerDefragment on both each monday.

I hardly do bigger panos than 250-400MB TIFFs, as I don't do 16bit, or bracketing, or real HDR. So this machine is even more than I need and rarely a render takes more than 15 minutes; usually I render with lowest priority while editing the panos in the Pano Editor and then start working on the ready TIFFs in Photoshop while APP finishes the whole queue.

But adding another 8GB of RAM or stripping another two Raptors will help for larger projects. You can also consider a RAID5 or similar with 3+ Baracudas 7200.11, each 500GB, so you have plenty of space, if needed.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:53 am 
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Raid 5 is best for reads, not writes, because writes put the parity bit on a different drive each block. That can slow your writes to 1/2 speed.

Raid 0+1 (striped & mirrored) is the fastest for writes, but you lose 2 drives out of 4.

I'm running Vista Ultimate 64bit with 8gb ram on a Quad Core 2.4ghz. I haven't setup different drives for temp, cache, etc, but after reading this post I really should do that.

I run my renders in low priority, so that they'll stitch while I'm doing other stuff (usually working on the next pano).

I run a cpu vista gadget that shows all 4 cores and their % of usage. When stitching starts, they all max at 100%, which is terrific! But, when it gets to the final blend, it drops back to 1 core (or low usage on each) that seems to be the bottleneck that I've seen.

Kirk


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 8:34 am 
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spyboy wrote:
When stitching starts, they all max at 100%, which is terrific! But, when it gets to the final blend, it drops back to 1 core (or low usage on each) that seems to be the bottleneck that I've seen.

The bottleneck is called Smartblend. If you use Multiband (which you probably should use, if you shoot with a panohead), it should use CPU more efficiently and render quite faster.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:18 pm 
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Just a quick note to say thanks to all who posted here. I now have a Q6600/Ubuntu system ... which runs APP slower than by old Wind*ws machine LOL. Oh well, lots to learn about Linux ... again ... sigh.

I'll do some reading/research and post again in a new thread if I can't sort it out.

Happy Rendering,

A

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:08 pm 
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Aeriscera dont confuse the interface's slugginesh with APP's internal workings and rendering/stitching time. APP in Linux does take longer to open images or redraw the pano preview, AlexandreJ told me it's an issue with X, it would be so sluggish for everyone, for me too. On the other hand, taking aside the gui/screen-drawing time, it will stitch and render in about the same time as on Windows, maybe even a bit faster depending on your linux settings.

...unless you are talking about something else :]


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 4:31 pm 
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DrSlony wrote:
..unless you are talking about something else :]

Maybe I am ... or I am confused :)

Continued here.

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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 9:07 pm 
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Is APP able to run on a PS3 under Linux such as Helmut Dersch's PT gui version?
It is said to be exponentially faster than any existing quad 64 bit machines.?

I have both APP and PT Gui. I prever APP over everything else for production speed and control point work. A PS3 would be smaller and more portable for travel work than a big quad or dual proc box.

Are there any plans for the PS3 and APP?


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:37 pm 
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Anyone using a solid disk HD? Ramdisk for APP? Im considering getting one today. My last render took 12 hours on a phenom quad processor machine. My work is not normal nodal panorama. The last medium size one was 32206 x 13773pixels high. 447 x 191 inches
Im using windows 32 still on a dedicated machine.


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