I would point to RAM first, but it could be any combination of
insufficient RAM, disk space or processing power.
Maybe. But you don't give any specs on your machine, version of Illustrator, amount of scratch disk space, or even platform, so how can anyone say?
Illustrator is a generally very sluggish program, even on well-endowed new machines. It is particularly sluggish at rendering raster effects and excruciatingly slow when features like 3D Effect are indiscriminately over-used. (Sounds like your situation may be hinting at 3D Effect.) At least up to CS3, Illustrator cannot address more than 2GB of RAM anyway, so throwing money at your machine may prove fruitless. And there is no simple provision for clearing its undo cache.
Sorry here's the system info, iMac 2.8GHz, 2 GB ram, 366/465 free. Illustrator CS3 - v13.0.2
I would recommend more RAM. Yes, Illustrator cannot address more than
2GB, but you have to consider the other processes going on that also
tax that amount. I would say a minimum of 4GB would serve you well on
Check your activity monitor (in utilities) under a usual number of
open apps and see what your RAM usage looks like. At 2GB, I'll bet
you are maxing it out and using drive space to compensate.
Checked my activity monitor, have 885.36MB free. Tried quitting everything, and left the app to process the request for 2 hours.
Makes me think Illustrator just can't process the functions included in the program.
Shouldn't really be a problem, could be a cache or plug in difference.
I've got a 2008 Mac Pro (2.6 Q) with 32gb of ram, I render 3d in seconds in other programs, illustrator is chewing on a simple render for way too long, I would never throw anything complicated at it, it would take an eternity! Forget about 3d render in Illustrator, it needs some serious improvement. I recommend 3d cool or any of the ulead 3d software for simple 3d rendering, or cinema 4d, but then good luck learning it I love Illustrator, but the 3d effect "ad on" was a serious marketing mistake!
Under Snow Leopard, AICS5 can only utilize about 2GB RAM. It is limited because unlike Photoshop, it is only a 32-bit app.