Resolution 101 Feat. The Tourist Guy  

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Resolution 101 Feat. The Tourist Guy

by VRabbit » Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:51 am

I just install Vista 64 on my computer and also put 8 GB of RAM. I have a quad core processor and after reading some other discussions/forums I am considering on building a RAID 5 with 3-4 Raptor hard drives. This is a huge expense..at least for my pocket. So here is my question. What setting will increase the speed of stitching from a-z. I have been doing time test on the same project which is 11 pano 360 degee scenes which consist of 24 images (8 "3 set bracket"). Thus far the best setting that I found worked to speed up the total stitching time was with the redering set to high in setting and also memory turned up to 2.8 GB for the cache... I am unfamiluar with the purpose of cache. I understand that its used to write to RAM instead of disk/temp files. However I am wondering if I have the setting backwards for this. The point of this post is I want to determine from other fellow users what setting will really make my computer zip. As of now when redering its only using a total of 2.25 GB of RAM and I just installed 8 GB. it would be so nice to see it use its full compacitiy. I am happy to say that the 4 processors are maxing out at 100% a lot of the time. The wierd thing is that when running Vista and whatever applications that are on my desktop... I am using 2.08 GB. SO does that really mean that Autopnao is using only .25 GB or RAM? Please help. I am looking to really speed up the time of this and any settings that can be mentioned will really help.

Dection Settings. Having more than one instance decetion will this help decrease total time spend on stitiching several tours?

Aligrithums any sugestions.

I want to use smartblend because its great.

Thanks

VRabbit


1st image before using AutoPano...2nd Image during use... Hoping it will help illustrate the use of RAM and how its not using to much.





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by [bo] » Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:32 am

APP does not really need much RAM. The MAIN, MAJOR (I cannot stress that ENOUGH) factor, when using SmartBlend, is HDD speed.

I've noted increases up to TWO times (sometimes even more) when I put two Raptors in my system - one for the system disk+swap+software install, the other for APP projects and temp file. I can only imagine what will happen with stripped Raptors or some of the new SSD drives with large cache!
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by VRabbit » Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:22 pm

Can you explain more on how to set up one for the system disk+swap+software install, the other for APP projects and temp file. I think I understand what you mean. Like right now I have two hard drive on my computer. I have Auto installed in the typical c: so if I gather what you are saying am i better off saving all my App rendered files onto the other drive? If that is true. I do understand how to save to the other drive if this is true. But how would you adjust the temp file settings to go to another drive... Also what are temp files for? Sorry for all the questions I am learning as we go. Hopefully someday I will be as skilled as you and assisting answering other peoples questions.

Thanks

Vrabbit

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by fma38 » Thu Dec 18, 2008 11:02 pm

Temp files are mainly generated by smartblend, during the last rendering stage. But if you import raw images, APP will convert them in tiff before using them. These tiff images are also stored in the temp dir (which is set from the preference dialog).

Here my config... I also have 2 HDs: 1 for the system and home partitions (and swap, but as I have 8GB memory, swap is not used very often), and one for all my photos. In addition, each disk has a partition dedicated to temp files. Why one on each drive? Because they are in raid0 to make only one big partition dedicated to temp files, so both disks can be used, depending on the load. This really improve perfs. All my softwares use this temp partition, so even if I'm developping raw at the same time, perfs won't fall down.
Frédéric

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by VRabbit » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:55 am

Hmmm doubt that there is any easy way to make partitions in each drive for temp files. Everything you mentioned makes sense. I am still a bit confused but tis probable due to my lack of knowledge with computers compared to you guys. I am not sure if I have raid 0 or 1 with these two hard drives. is there a way to tell in your settings. I am running Vista 64 home prem. I appreciate your guys post and enjoy learning more on the tech side of things.

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by fma38 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:37 am

You need either a raid controller on your mother board, buy such raid controller, or run linux and use kernel soft raid: this is what I do.
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by [bo] » Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:08 pm

Before we begin - I'd never drop RAW files into APP. So I don't need much space for de-rawing temps and I save a lot of time.

Basic setup. Maximum simplicity. Single 150GB VelociRaptor: used for OS install, APP install, OS SWAP, APP temp. Extra - install PhotoShop on the same drive, use the same drive as PS/Bridge cache/temp/swap. I won't bother with partitions, just make sure I setup JkDefrag screensaver and that's all. I'd make a folder "Projects" on the disk and put my TIFF files in there. Next just use APP with SmartBlend and enjoy double the productivity (compared to a single 7200rpm drive), also quicker OS boot and quicker PS.

Middle level-setup. Two 150GB VelociRaptor. One for OS and software and images, the other for all swap/temp/cache. Don't forget to move the OS swap file to the other disk. This would allow working on bigger projects. Also, the OS drive won't fragment as much.

High-end setup. A Raptor for the OS and software + a few more Raptors and a dedicated RAID controller (NOT motherboard soldered one!!!). You need at least 3 disks for RAID5 or some similar setup. You get plenty of space, speed, redundancy. What more could you want. Mind you, even that setup is *fairly* accessible for the amount of power it offers!


VERY IMPORTANT: If you're using Multiband instead of SmartBlend, the HDD is not at all that important! The most valuable part of the computer in that case is the CPU, so a nicely clocked Q6600 or (in a few months) i7 920 would be the best.
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by fma38 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:47 pm

To put temporary files, you don't need raid5, so using 2 partitions of 2 disks in raid0 is very simple and really efficient. (much more than the middle-level setup, as access to that temp. files is done on 2 disks *at the same time*).
Frédéric

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by [bo] » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:39 pm

fma38, stripping disks is nice for a quick boost and you can easily do it with on on-board RAID, however I'd never put an OS on a stripped set. So I'd need three disks and that's more like a higher-middle-level. But I guess at some point things boil down to preference...
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by fma38 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:23 pm

Why don't you want to put the OS on a stripped set?
Frédéric

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by GURL » Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:44 pm

USER wrote:Having more than one instance decetion will this help decrease total time spend on stitiching several tours?

In my opinion you should try launching several copies of APP and see what happens when each of them is stitching a different panorama... (I suppose selecting the "1 CPU" option for each copy is useless or worse but...)

BTW, to see what is happening about memory usage I prefer to use the Process tab of the Task Manager which shows per program used RAM (in the screen capture Util. Mémoire means Memory usage, Processeur means CPU % and Nom de l'image shows that the guy who translated the GUI was not understanding the matter...)


Last edited by GURL on Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by [bo] » Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:54 am

fma38 wrote:Why don't you want to put the OS on a stripped set?

Because I've had continuous bad experience with RAID0 and I don't like unstable platforms. I like simple things and hassle-free solutions. Also, as I wrote - it's about personal preference.

What happens when the RAID breaks and that happens inevitably, more sooner than later and generally all the time? You have to rebuild, reinstall, setup all from beginning. Yes, having an image of the drive helps, but still it's an operation that only I in my small company can manage and what if I'm on location... Out of town... For two weeks... What if one of the drives fail after 9 months and you cannot find the same in retail, so you have to change both?

I know it's about chance and stuff, but my hardware preference is shaped by the things that happened to me in the past. How come in the last 15 year I've had a single HDD fail (after I dropped it two feet on cement) and in the same time I've rebuilt stripped drives so many times I cannot remember? At one point my local server was using stripped set of 4 disks for the day-to-day work files and I was rebuilding the thing literally every week.

At the end it's a personal thing and the good part is that the current hardware allows for very diverse approaches to a problem.

The point of this thread is not to point the one and only solution, as I don't believe there are universal "best ways". It's about a person making a decision, fitting in his own context.
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by fma38 » Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:11 am

Ok, I think we didn't understand each other... I totally agree that the system should not be on a raid0 partition; this is very dangerous. But in my solution, I only have the temporary partition on such raid0 device. I use a small part at the end of each disk to build that raid0. The rest of the disks is normal. So, both system and images are on normal partitions.

Don't know if it is possible with a raid controller, but very easy to do with soft raid kernel-based on linux. This is a very cheap solution, and very efficient. And no more no less secure that a standard installation.

I don't use raid1 for system or images, because it slows down things (raid5 is nice, but more expensive), but I have automatic backups on another internal disk, and a every-night synchronization on 2 other disks, out of home.
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by [bo] » Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:20 pm

Ooooh, I see now, you're talking about software raids... I cannot comment on that, as I have no experience with it. Glad you have it working with nice results and easily, but I don't use Linux as well too, so I have no idea what in takes in that enviroment.

When I was younger and learned about RAID technology, I had a teacher that began a lesson about soft raids with a big chalk lettering across the blackboard: FORGET SOFTWARE RAID. And then we moved forward, so I kinda forgot about it :D
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by VRabbit » Mon Dec 22, 2008 8:08 am

'[bo wrote:']
fma38 wrote:Why don't you want to put the OS on a stripped set?

Because I've had continuous bad experience with RAID0 and I don't like unstable platforms. I like simple things and hassle-free solutions. Also, as I wrote - it's about personal preference.

What happens when the RAID breaks and that happens inevitably, more sooner than later and generally all the time? You have to rebuild, reinstall, setup all from beginning. Yes, having an image of the drive helps, but still it's an operation that only I in my small company can manage and what if I'm on location... Out of town... For two weeks... What if one of the drives fail after 9 months and you cannot find the same in retail, so you have to change both?

I know it's about chance and stuff, but my hardware preference is shaped by the things that happened to me in the past. How come in the last 15 year I've had a single HDD fail (after I dropped it two feet on cement) and in the same time I've rebuilt stripped drives so many times I cannot remember? At one point my local server was using stripped set of 4 disks for the day-to-day work files and I was rebuilding the thing literally every week.

At the end it's a personal thing and the good part is that the current hardware allows for very diverse approaches to a problem.

The point of this thread is not to point the one and only solution, as I don't believe there are universal "best ways". It's about a person making a decision, fitting in his own context.

I agree with everything you metioned. First and formost I want to build a system that if it does break it can be fixed easily. So if thats the case I suppose I need to stack my chips up and wait till I can develop something that is Raid 5. I guess I am the type of person that wants to think ahead. I own a business that does virtual tours and we are expecting mroe and more tours to come in ona daily basis. I am trying to determine what I can do to make the A to Z process go as fast as possible. I am trying to figure out how to change the settings so the temp files are saved on a seperate hard drive. My computer has two 300 Gm hard drive. They are of couse 7200 RPM since I bought it straight from Best Buy. Its not a bad computer at all. The quad core processors help and with the recent install of Vista 64 and 8 GB of RAM I do see improvements. I feel the biggest step now is to make a Raid 5 system. Unforunatly to make Raid 5 it does cost a lot. I am thinking I will wait till some of the 15K RPm hard drives drop in price. At that point I am thinking of buying 3 of them and making Raid 5. No one in here has mentioned 15K RPM hard drives. Is there a reason for that? Just curious and you all seem to know your computer tech stuff a lot. Will someone please provide instructions on how to save the temp files etc on a seperate HD. I figured i could at least utilize my other hard drive and it sounds like it will speed up the time some. By the way I am stitching Jpeg files and not Tiffs, I have never done RAW becuase of file size and time. The two factors that are a must for me is a decent quality pano and of course the time of processing.

Thanks

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by [bo] » Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:24 am

SAS - it's great technology. I used a lot of SCSI disks back in the day (external boxes, 4 disks of *huge* capacity - 9GB ;) ), had a 2x9GB SCSI RAID1 as my main server storage in those times...

The main "problem" is the price. A nice controller (3ware, etc) costs. The disks cost quite a bit too. So a drive and controller could cost as much as three Raptors (which are enough for RAID5). Check the links below. If you have the money, that is the way to go. However in my case projects are not *that* time sensitive and usually most time is spent in Photoshop. So while one machine is used for pano composition and rendering (in the same time), the other is used for retouch work on the ready panos.

I'm currently looking into SSD and Flash storage, but that technology it's not "there" yet. Also, if Alexandre pulls some trick out of Kolor's hat and manages a SmartBlend2 that's not as much dependent on HDD speed, this whole thread will be obsolete and we'll be talking about clocking i7 940 CPUs and GTX 280s to get maximum pano processing speed! :D


Controller:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816116064

150GB retail SAS disk:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822332012

150GB oem SAS disk:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136296

150GB oem VelociRaptor:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136296
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by Ath » Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:06 am

I have a pair of WD 640GB SATA2's in RAID0, using the "motherboard" RAID function (which is really just driver level software RAID anyway), though it works great!

It's my secondary drive as a scratch disk for photoshop, and pano stitching and video editing, very fast! :)

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by r-myan » Sat Dec 27, 2008 4:50 pm

For what expensive RAID?

c2d 4400mhz, 3.25Gb DDR2 ram(4Gb total), 7200rpm 32mb HDD (XP 32-bit)

35 images panorama (3 megapixel images, APP used ~800mb for temp on this panorama))

temp folder on
1Gb RAMdisc - 2m7s (bottleneck - cpu)

temp folder on
HDD 7200rpm - 12m5s (bottleneck - hdd)

so why APP use HDD instead of free RAM? :(

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by DrSlony » Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:42 pm

Yes, I have 8GB RAM and APP could put it to much better use.

Also, AlexandreJ, would it be possible to define two temp dirs, one would be 100GB on my disk, the other would be e.g. 6GB RAM? So APP would use the RAM temp dir for often read and written stuff, and the 100GB for the rest?

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by mediavets » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:12 am

I found this comparison of system specs and stitching/rendering performance interesting:

http://www.gigapan.org/viewGigapan.php?id=10516&window_height=664&window_width=1126
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by klausesser » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:14 pm

"I used a lot of SCSI disks back in the day (external boxes, 4 disks of *huge* capacity - 9GB ), had a 2x9GB SCSI RAID1 as my main server storage in those times..."

I´m using a RAID0 with a hardware 2-channel card and 2 scuzzy drives now for 11 years in my PowerMac G3. It runs without a single problem since then.
I like scuzzy hardware-RAIDs a lot.

In my G5 i have a sATA RAID0 using the on-board 2 channel controller - now for about 4 years without a problem. The MacOS X 10.5 is on it. But i guess it´s not a real hardware-RAID. I didn´t care - it runs.

In my next machine (maybe a LinuxPC) i will have again a hardware 2-channel controller for level0 RAID - using it for APP´s, Photoshop´s and 3D-render apps like Maya, Cinema4D and some Audio stuff like Logic and ProTools.
My OS will be on a 500GB device exclusively for the system.
A 4th device/stack will be reserved to store photographs and renderings.

In the end there will be NEVER enough disk-space when running bigger projects . . :cool:
So i think about a hot-swappable array of exchangable drives. It´s cheaper than burning backups on DVD or Blueray to have ONE drive exclusively for ONE project - having projects of hundreds of pictures each, stitching, editing and rendering may be in several differing kinds. Keeping all stages has advantages . . :cool: And 160GB drives are cheaper than the equivalent in DVD/BlueRay - not to forget the time of burning.

best, Klaus
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. Coco Chanel

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by hankkarl » Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:08 pm

There's been a lot of talk about drive RPM in the APP forums. RPM is important, but its not the only thing to worry about. For example, WD has two lines of consumer drives, Black and Green (I think the Blue series is being phased out). See http://www.wdc.com/en/products/index.asp?cat=3&language=en

The Black series offers dual processors and high reliability. Its similar to the server grade drive. The Green is advertised as power-saving. Both drives can be had with 32M cache in the 1TB version and both can spin at 7200 rpm. Note that the green drive is "intellipower" which varies the speed between 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm, but is sold as a 7200 RPM drive.

Another thing to remember is that Windows slows down when there is less than about 20% free disk space, and crawls when there is less than 10% left, and that head seek time can be a factor. (More data on one cylinder = less head movement.) So bigger drives are faster if all else is equal.

I just replaced a couple of drives on my server with WD 1TB Caviar Black drives, moved the data drive (D: ) from the physical disk that also had the C: (system) drive, and saw a very noticable improvement on all the systems connected to the server. Network speed as measured by Task Manager went from a high of about 4-5% (bursts) to a high of 12.5% sustainable (on a 1Gb ethernet). The limiting factor is now the processor utilization.

So the disk type, size, free space, and partitioning may well affect APP (and all other programs).
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by VRabbit » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:01 am

'[bo wrote:']SAS - it's great technology. I used a lot of SCSI disks back in the day (external boxes, 4 disks of *huge* capacity - 9GB ;) ), had a 2x9GB SCSI RAID1 as my main server storage in those times...

The main "problem" is the price. A nice controller (3ware, etc) costs. The disks cost quite a bit too. So a drive and controller could cost as much as three Raptors (which are enough for RAID5). Check the links below. If you have the money, that is the way to go. However in my case projects are not *that* time sensitive and usually most time is spent in Photoshop. So while one machine is used for pano composition and rendering (in the same time), the other is used for retouch work on the ready panos.

I'm currently looking into SSD and Flash storage, but that technology it's not "there" yet. Also, if Alexandre pulls some trick out of Kolor's hat and manages a SmartBlend2 that's not as much dependent on HDD speed, this whole thread will be obsolete and we'll be talking about clocking i7 940 CPUs and GTX 280s to get maximum pano processing speed! :D


Controller:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816116064

150GB retail SAS disk:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822332012

150GB oem SAS disk:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136296

150GB oem VelociRaptor:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136296

I just got 3 raptos. They where on sale at best buy of all places. 20% off, local and cheaper that new egg or amazon. I got each one for 200 bucks... They are 300GB each. So now I am looking for a good raid 5 controller. I have read several reviews online. Such as this link that i found interesting. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cheap-reliable-raid-5-storage-compared,832.html there are several other write ups on tomshardware.com that i enjoyed. Bottom line the more I dig into this the more I get lost. I feel I am gaining knowledge but now understand how different each one can perform. I also looked at your link to the raid controller on new egg. I notices its sata/sas capatible So now that you know I have 3 raptors do you have any suggestions. By goal is to have something that runs them fast, easy to maintain/rebuild/swap and install. Of course the cheaper the better but I want to make sure I get a good set up since i spent the money on the raptors. As of now since i needed to get the computer set up quick I have it in raid 0 and guess what I already have a hard disk issue. You said it perfectly above my saying that you want reliability and not have to rebuild all the time. This is key to me.

Since we are on the topic does anyone know if a raid 5 with 3 disk will out perform a raid 0 with 2 disk... Reason why I ask is I thought about even running a raid 0 with two raptors and then run a raid 1 mirror with one disk to at least have a copy.

I am up to suggestions. This Raid stuff I am trying to grasp/understand and I feel I am learning a lot but I am not afraid to ask for advice.

Thanks

P.S. If you want any benchmarks please send the link to a program and I will do test for both raid systesm so we can compare.

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by [bo] » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:02 am

The RAID5 setup will be much more simpler to maintain and in most cases - more reliable than a mirrored strip set. 0+1 or 10 RAIDs will be faster, especially in the "read" part, but performance depends on many things... Also, you can make a measurement yourself, use HD Tune or HD Tach or any other tool and measure random read/write values with bigger file chunks on 10 and 5 RAIDs . This will give you a pretty definite answer for your specific configuration. That's my opinion.

I'd like to point you to the last post in this thread. So as you see it depends on your situation. Currently, I'm not willing to get involved with controllers, cooling (you cannot have a RAID without proper cooling), bigger case, bigger PSU, noise levels rising, etc... I've done it before, quite a few times. It's just too complicated at this point and I've got other things to worry about. Plus disk performance is not *that* critical to me, as I don't do huge projects. So I'd just get a Drobo and stick 4 Velociraptors in it and that's that (and it's already budgeted, just have to find a way to deliver a Drobo to Bulgaria). It should be a huge boost over a single Raptor and even that single Raptor is much better that a single 7200rpm drive for smaller batches now. But to each his own...

I checked the article and I'm sorry to say that I don't have experience with the LSI brand. Also, those controllers seem to be marketed as "accessible", last two I got were from the more expensive 3Ware brand, but I've had no problems with those. If I had to go with any of the listed there, I'd choose Adaptec, only because I trust the brand (I own two LVD SCSI controllers from Adaptec that haven't been switched off for the last 15 years...)
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by tived » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:53 am

Bo,

a word of warning, regarding the drobo, we have one with 4 Samsung f1 disks in it, running in a Mac environment, we have the network module as well.

One word - SLOW!!!! and the samsung F1 disks are not slow.

I would strongly advise against buying a Drobo, I was unfortunately the one recommending it to my friend, because I had heard so many good things about it from other photographers on the net, but I am seriously beginning to wonder what their idea of Fast is. This Drobo, is NOT fast at all and I regret that we bought it.

I have not tried it, in a PC system, but for us its a dog, running next to an X-server and a Mac Mass storage array

YMMV

kindest regards

Henrik

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