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Photoshop CS6 on a dual Xeon E5430... not what I've expected!

Jun 30, 2012 5:25 AM

Tags: #photoshop #mac #windows #cs6 #photoshop_cs6 #xeon #workstation

I've recently bought a HP xw8600 workstation (2x Xeon E5430, 8GB DDR, Quadro FX 4600, 2x146 SAS HDD in RAID), thinking that this would be a perfect workstation for Photoshop.

I've made a RAID from the two 146GB SAS Hard Drives, and split the memory in 3:

- 87 GB for Windows

- 97 GB for scratch disk

- 71 GB other programs and stuff

 

All in all the work flow is fluid and you can see the power of this little monster but in Photoshop I was really disappointed! Editing a large file (200cm by 80cm) made PS really laggy which was a surprise since I have 8 Cores to take care of the processing. Taking a closer look at Task Manager, I could clearly see the problem: only one Core was doing the processing and was loading at max every time for example I was quickly zooming in and out or when moving a layer with a bunch of layer style applied. Looking for solutions I've found the so called Core Parking fix which didn't do anything. Going one step forward, I've spent a whole day installing Mac OSX 10.7.4 Lion to see how Photoshop was behaving there. To my surprise in OSX PS used all the cores when working the same large file. So it seems that either Windows 7 limits Photoshop's ability to use all the cores of the CPUs or maybe Photoshop for Windows it self has this limitation.

 

Later on I've heard a guy saying that he came across some special setting in Windows that would unlock all the Cores in Photoshop and other applications and that he would sell me the solution for 250 Euros. It's hard to believe that he knows something I couldn't find across the whole internet.

 

So what do you think about all this? Is there a way to make Photoshop CS6 use all the 8 Cores efficiently?

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 30, 2012 8:14 AM   in reply to dpcdpc11

    Well, the simple answer is, that your system is misconfigured and PS probably doesn't properly take advantage of hardware acceleration. Could be anything from graphics driver to a specific system libray/ motherboard driver not being there. Impossible to know, but definitely check your device manager and update all drivers where appropriate.

     

    Mylenium

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,526 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Jun 30, 2012 11:07 AM   in reply to dpcdpc11

    Anyone trying to sell you an "unlock cores" solution is scamming.  There is no such thing.

     

    Perhaps you could be more specific about the operation you're trying that causes slow performance.  Others could test exactly the same thing.

     

    Keep in mind that painting with very large brushes can be slow on any system.  But my money's on nVidia's display driver not being able to accelerate Photoshop properly.  Just because you have an expensive workstation card doesn't mean it's got great drivers; nVidia actually seems to do a better job on its gamer card drivers to be honest.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 30, 2012 11:11 AM   in reply to dpcdpc11

    >> quickly zooming in and out or when moving a layer with a bunch of layer style applied.

     

    That's just redrawing the screen.  That's dependent on your GPU and driver, and has little opportunity to use multiple cores. Blending the layers will use multiple cores, but then the result will be cached quickly and reused after.  Some GPU drivers may use multiple cores for some operations (but usually only when the GPU itself can't handle the work).

     

    Yes, "unlocking cores" is certainly a scam.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 30, 2012 1:20 PM   in reply to dpcdpc11

    Photoshop can use the extra cores for things that can make use of the extra cores (blending, painting, computationally expensive filters, etc.).

    But simple image display won't show much benefit from extra cores.  (again, all the work happens early in the process, and gets cached - after that you're just copying data)

    And there are many tasks in Photoshop that cannot benefit from too many cores (they saturate the bus with just a few, or have serialized algorithms that can't use extra cores (and are faster than algorithms that use more cores)).

     

    Yeah, that does sound like a good price for that system.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,526 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Jun 30, 2012 4:42 PM   in reply to dpcdpc11

    Dpcdpc11, you seem to be confusing "not everything in Photoshop can saturate 8 cores" with it being visibly slow.

     

    Perhaps you could describe, in more specific terms, what being "visibly slow" really means.  As in, step 1, I click this, step 2, I click that, step 3 it takes x.y seconds.

     

    The Xeon E5430 isn't anything to write home about by today's standards, though it's not a bad processor.  You do tend to get what you pay for with workstations.

     

    I like to consult this chart to see where particular CPU architectures fall relative to one another in terms of performance:  http://www.cpubenchmark.net/multi_cpu.html

     

    You haven't gained anything by partitioning your drive array, by the way.  In fact, you've likely hurt performance - it would work better if you just left it all as one big C: volume.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,526 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Jul 1, 2012 7:04 AM   in reply to dpcdpc11

    dpcdpc11 wrote:

     


    My only regret was that I'm not getting what I've paid for this workstation, Photoshop wise, cause I have 8 cores and only one is being used by Photoshop (and now I understand why... thanks to Chris... I wish I've known this before I bought the damn system).

     

    You mentioned it seeming fluid to use...  That's a characteristic of a multi-core machine.  Are you saying you're just feeling down because you're not seeing Photoshop just max out your cores all to the top whenever it does anything?

     

    No application in general, save for very specialized cases, always uses all the cores on a multi-core system.  That's just the way it is.  Photoshop does a very good job of leveraging the power of a multi-core system.  I think you're trying to oversimplify what you're seeing.

     

    That said, there are things you have set up that could negatively affect processor utilization - for example you might have storage bottlenecks or RAM configuration shortcomings.  One thing is certain, you could use more RAM.  Depending on your system hardware and what RAM you have now, it's possible it may be able to support faster RAM access with a matched set (my Dell Precision, for example, steps up to quad channel access when 8 matched DIMMs are used).

     

    It's not bad to use a RAID array, but partitioning it helps nothing, as I mentioned before.  With spinning drives, unless you have 4 or more drives in your array, it's probably better to have a physically separate scratch drive.  But if you create a huge, fast RAID array for your system drive it can actually yield better performance (and a number of other advantages) to just have everything pointed at C:.  That's how I run my system, and it's highly responsive.  I hardly notice when Photoshop goes to its swap file.

     

    It sounds as though you don't want to spend a lot of money to improve performance, but I would advise against getting a tiny SSD.  Either get a big one (or several big ones) so there's plenty of free space for the foreseeable lifetime of the machine, or don't go the SSD route.

     

    Honestly, I'd suggest, before doing ANYTHING else, putting at least 16 GB if not 32 GB of RAM in that system.  Photoshop will love you for it.  I suggest ECC RAM if it will take it.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 1, 2012 12:18 PM   in reply to dpcdpc11

    The Photoshop optimizations are the same for both platforms.  Some drivers may do different things between the platforms, and sometimes the OS won't let us use additional cores as effectively (MacOS kernel bug) -- but by and large it's the same.

    And we're constantly adding optimization and revisiting/improving old optimizations.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,526 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Jul 3, 2012 1:28 PM   in reply to dpcdpc11

    I think that's a good idea.

     

    It seems prudent to have a video card that benchmarks at least 1000 on this chart for best Photoshop performance:

    http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html

     

    Personally I'd advise dumping nVidia altogether and get something like a VisionTek ATI Radeon HD 7850, which is some 6 times faster than the card you now have and sports 2 GB of DDR5.  Though both nVidia and ATI release botched up driver versions from time to time, I find the ATI drivers more stable overall.

     

    Make sure your power supply can handle it (probably not a problem, considering the card you're replacing).

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,526 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 3, 2012 7:00 PM   in reply to dpcdpc11

    I prefer the VisionTek brand rather than Sapphire, based on all good personal experience with VisionTek.  What can you get a 7750 for?

     

    -Noel

     
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