Photoshop World – Heavy Lifting

Well, another Photoshop World come and gone.  This year Adam Jerugim and I did a presentation on setting up a machine for doing very large file work.  Thank you again to those who attended – we were up against some interesting stuff.  I know I promised to have this entry up on Monday, but I’ve been struggling with getting PowerPoint to let me extract the information in a good way.  I’ll probably have to update this entry a couple more times as I figure out how to get what I want pulled out.

I wanted to call out a couple of things that are currently buried in the speaker notes, and I’m not sure if I got them across appropriately.  First, setting Photoshop’s memory percentage to 100% only makes sense if you’ve got more than 4GB of RAM in the machine, and again, only if you haven’t run into trouble running the filters you need that way, and are on CS3.  We’ve improved our ability to back off in the case that the machine we’re on starts to page every version.  However, it’s still important to watch that free RAM (or, in the case of Vista, the amount still being used for the system file cache).  It’s important that you watch what’s going on on your system when pushing things to their limit.  If you’re regularly seeing free memory (or the amount of free memory + system cache on vista) go below 20MB, it’s time to back off that memory percentage setting and try again.

Someone had asked a question at the end about RAID types, and I wanted to repeat that here – for fastest performance, RAID 0 with 2-6 drives for the Photoshop primary scratch disk is the fastest way to go, but isn’t a good place for storing files unless you’re going to back them up very frequently (daily?) to a big server on the network.  RAID 0+1 or RAID 5 would add in the reliability at some cost in performance or the need for additional drives.  We still need to measure which of those is the best way to go.  It’ll be about throughput.

So, here’s the current version of the presentation.  The animations don’t come across, and I still have to go through the speaker notes and clean them up and get a good export of that.  Hopefully within the next day or so, and I’ll update this post.


[Update: I meant to get the version of the presentation with extended notes up before my travels, apologies for not getting that done.  I’ll get that up and catch up on the comments when I return in October. -Scott]

[Update: Sorry this took so long, but PowerPoint and I had to come to an, um… understanding.  So below is the link to the annotated version of the presentation, with all slide builds manually exploded apart so that they are actually usefull. -Scott]


8 Responses to Photoshop World – Heavy Lifting

  1. Dave Story says:

    Scott, Adam, very well written. It’s not easy to walk folks through all this stuff. Would be nice to see how much improvement the various systems you recommend actually yield, in time sense.I think it’s also useful to just explain to folks how much more complicated it is to manage the kinds of systems we have these days, when dealing with images that are in the very large range.Dave[Thanks, Dave! We did have a couple of graphs buried in the middle there. We’ll also be working on a white paper where we’ll be diving a bit more into details, and we’ll see if we can have more numbers in there. That’s also where we’ll get more into the complexity of these things. -Scott]

  2. Tived says:

    Wow, first time I have read such a well written and balanced article, on this topic.My hat off for you both.I do retouching for other photographers, so to me the performance of the computer is very important and every bit of juice I can squeeze out of it, is time saved. I am currently using PC/windows xp x64.I have found it really difficult to find good information on the topic of photoshop performance, and have over the years played with various configurations. I am looking for ways to improve or eliminate the system bottlenecks. However, I have also come to conclude, that, the best performance increase is in the workflow 🙂 not in the computer itself.(you can leave this out if you wish)The boring bit, the systemWindows XP x64 and Adobe CS3 Design Premiumcustom build locally (almost 2years ago)Tyan S2895 mainboardDual Opteron (Dualcore) 285 2.6Ghz, 8gb of ram2x nVidia Quadro FX 34009x scsi hard drives 36-300gb 10-15k rpmcurrently connect to an Adaptec 2120S RAID controller PCI-X.I have my OS on a RAID0 partition on a pair of Fujitsu 147gb 10k, but still very fastand I have a scratch disk, made up by 3x 73gb 15k seagates 15.4 the rest is JBOD + plus back up disks – for major backup I have an HP DL385 with a HP MSA-500 a 14 scsi disk array in raid6.I am starting to wonder if Adobe, is writing better code for the Mac’s or that the Mac’s OS is giving the application better memory management and more of it, then windows is.I have available to me, on various machines windows XP x32, x64, Vista x64 and server 2003 x32, though I have not been running PS on my server, yet! but if server 2003 has better memory management, allowing PS or CS collection to utillise the memory better, then that is certainly an option.My apology if I have gone outside the topic. I just got very excited to read the topicthanks for sharingHenrik TivedA Dane in western Australia[You are welcome. That is certainly one killer setup. I agree on the workflow sentiment. “Less time between fewer clicks” is how I like to characterize performance, to make sure and capture that. – Scott]

  3. Steven Bland says:

    I am the type that likes to know what is going on in my system and thus am always monitoring . . . well, everything. Most users are not like us though.Why not implement an “Adaptive Memory Management” OPTION where Photoshop makes intelligent decisions based on known factors like: Memory installed, memory available at Photoshop startup, and of course “has the free mem gone below 20MB” during the current session. When this option radio button is checked, Photoshop could dynamically change the memory setting such that the next time it is launched it is running more optimized.What do you think?Steven Bland[Actually, much of that is already built-in. We watch for a few things and do indeed back off dynamically – no restart needed – if we see the system paging. As with any such system, it’s not an immediate adaptation, and naturally doesn’t capture the same level of performance as avoiding the paging situation in the first place. Note that on Vista, free memory often ends up at near zero with the super aggressive file caching it does, so watching for non-resident pages in our address space is the only proper measure we have. -Scott]

  4. gantico says:

    thank you for your great guide, it opened my eyes for a better comprehension of things behind Photoshop’s performances.I guess that a PC with 4 separate disks would be the best option (one for OS, one for OS paging file, one for Adobe scratch file and one for project files), but I wonder what would you recommend in case of a Pc with 3 disks:A)disk 1: OS + OS paging filedisk 2: Adobe scratch filedisk 3: project filesB)disk 1: OSdisk 2: OS paging filedisk 3: Adobe scratch file + project filesthanksGiovanni Antico[Option A. Keeping the OS, paging file, and applications on a single drive is fine since once the machine is booted there isn’t much contention for disk I/O among those three things. Having the project files on a separate disk from Photoshop’s primary scratch can help speed the loading of really large files. -Scott]

  5. joshbond says:

    Scott, I hope to one day meet you.josh[I’ll be at Photoshop World in Orlando. Adam and I will do our presentation again, updated some. -Scott]

  6. BillThompson says:

    Anyone else doing over 5 gig images with CS3? I am working with enormous photomerge files using 30-60 leaf images assembled. Have new intel 2×3 dual core with 8 gigs of ram which is what I was told would be the best system I could presently get.[That’s an excellent start, I’d really recommend getting at least a 4 drive RAID 0 set up as Photoshop’s primary scratch- because you will run out of address space doing that kind of operation, and scratch file performance will end up being the bottleneck. Given that you’re also loading lots of large images, having four drives in a RAID 5 or RAID 0+1 configuration for those files would help a heck of a lot as well. -Scott]

  7. Bruce says:

    A very nicely written post and thank you for the tip on memory usage for photoshop. I am using Vista and will give this a try.

  8. gbalaji says:

    Sorry for posting questions in comment.Would like to know, whether it is possible to apply LUT (Color profile) to dpx image sequence opened in Photoshop CS3 Extended. Tried but in vain its not working. It works for a single frame and not a image sequence.Thanks.[I asked around, here’s something to try (assuming you’re trying to convert the sequence to a new profile):1. Open the first file of the sequence, checking the “Image Sequence” checkbox in the Open dialog.2. Use Layer – Video Layers – Interpret Footage to set the profile you’re converting from.3. Use Edit – Assign Profile to choose the profile you want to convert to. As Photoshop loads frames from the sequence, it will convert them from the footage profile to the document profile.4. Use File – Export – Render Video to render to a new image sequence. Probably use Cineon as the export format.Not sure that’s what you were looking for… -Scott]