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As discussed many, many times: as a 32bit application, that's all AE can use. That is, if you run it as a singular instance without multiprocessing. Therefore you should enable the pertinent option in the preferences to at least be able to render faster for RAM previews and final output. I also recommend using the disk cache a lot to get spacebar playback wherever possible after you have created RAM previews. At least that way you will not throw away already buffered frames. You may need to actually lower the RAM usage values in the prefs to force AE to dump frames to disk. Depending on the project however, this will not always work - if AE thinks it can calculate frames faster from scratch, it will not cache no matter what you do, so this mostly applies to effects-heavy, intense stuff with lotsa layers, pre-comps and blendmode trickery. Beyond that there's nothing you can do - the same old rules apply, regardless how much your new shiny Mac may sparkle in the sun. ;-) Well, maybe for CS5 we will get a native 64bit version and all those workarounds are past us...
Also, make sure you are using After Effects CS3 or later, as earlier versions aren't made for Intel-Macs.
- Jonas Hummelstrand
Read the "Memory usage and storage" section of After Effects CS3 Help on the Web, including the comments.
The way to use more than a few of your 16 GB of RAM is to use the Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing feature, which spawns multiple instances of the After Effects application in the background. Read the "Render multiple frames simultaneously" section of After Effects CS3 Help, including the comments.
Good lord. Could we make this a sticky?