Fanless card for Photoshop CS4

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alleycat
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Fanless card for Photoshop CS4

Post by alleycat » Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:25 am

I'm looking for a fanless card that Photoshop CS4 can take advantage of. I've read the list at http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/405/kb405711.html however I realise that this is not exhaustive. The card needs to be capable of running two large monitors. I had been thinking of a 9600GT, but I get the feeling that it might be overspecified. Gaming is not required, so I would rather not waste money on capabilities that won't be used. Does anyone have any expertise in this area?

LodeHacker
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Post by LodeHacker » Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:36 am

As you are specifically asking for a card to use with Photoshop, I need to specifically ask why. Are you seeking for more performance, or need multiple digital outputs, perhaps something else? For business/office use an NVIDIA Quadro NVS will make wonders, but so will a GeForce card. However a GeForce might be a bit too bulky as it packs in components not really needed to drive Photoshop. Low-end GeForce cards tend not to have multiple digital outputs, but I've seen variants of the 8400GS for example with both a DVI and HDMI output. As HDMI is essentially DVI with audio, you can use an HDMI -> DVI adapter or cable and set up a dual screen setup for less than 50€. For industrial use especially I would stay away from ATI. Thanks to Quadro's success in CAD applications more software supports Quadro and its OpenGL optimizations than ATI FireGL. Quadro is easy to come by, but costs a lot of money. I really don't know how to help you as you give way too little information. I do however know a great deal about Photoshop as I use it myself for work in a multi display setup (two digital displays + TV output).
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Post by CA_Steve » Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:44 am

I came across this FAQ at Adobe that shows which features make use of the GPU and GPU acceleration req's. for a given performance threshold. Looks like you just need any card that supports Shader Model 3.0 + OpenGL 2.0 card and has 512MB of RAM or more.
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LodeHacker
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Post by LodeHacker » Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:52 am

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alleycat
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Post by alleycat » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:07 am

As I mentioned in a thread elsewhere, I'm building a system for a friend who is a professional photographer. The computer will be used almost exclusively for Photoshop, which TBH, I don't know a lot about except that CS4 is now able to offload work to the graphics card.

I've heard about those Quadro cards and they seem good, but they are way out of our price range. They also kind of annoy me because they're the same as mainstream hardware just with different firmware and a huge price tag (found this BTW). I don't mind sticking with Nvidia, as I have one of their low end cards in my PC and I'm quite happy with it.

CA_Steve, thanks for the link and your comments. On that basis my original choice is probably not too bad, but it seems I should be able to find something around half the price that will do the job.

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Post by LodeHacker » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:31 am

Quadro is NOT GeForce. You can soft-mod some GeForce cards to Quadro, but in the end it's still a GeForce. Architecturally both can be quite similar or very different. I know a professional photographer personally, who uses Photoshop in combination with NVIDIA Quadro. If you know people in the business go ask them about Quadro and they'll laugh at you if you say they are over-expensive GeForce cards. Quadro cards are expensive for a reason and if you still think they are the same as GeForce then tell me any GeForce card with SDI output for example.
Last edited by LodeHacker on Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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John Reid
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Post by John Reid » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:32 am

I use the CS4 suite every day, lots of Pshop (large 1 gig PShop files are common).

I use the stock card that came with my Mac Pro Dual Quad Core Xeon, which is a lowly ATI Radeon HD 2600 256MB, no issues.

The only real time that 3D performance is needed is for screen redraw, and this new "feature" called Smooth Display that you can use that "slides" the image when you move around the hand tool. Also other eye candy that CS4 offers. If a card has over 128 MB Ram, and supports OpenGL 2.0 and Shader Model 3.0, you're good to go:

http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/404/kb404898.html

If your friend is a photographer, here's a link from a good site that reviews gear, and gives tips on Pshop setups. Mac-oriented, but computers are just tools, so the knowledge will carry over... There are some plugins that come with Pshop that are "hidden" that'll help a lot (Bigger Times plug-in is a major one to use)

http://macperformanceguide.com/Optimizi ... ation.html

Main thing would be to get a good scratch disk(s), a good RAID setup, and get as much RAM as the machine can swallow (my Mac has 16 gigs, and I have 4 slots left over!). :shock:

Have fun!
Last edited by John Reid on Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:33 am

I wonder if something like the HD 4550 would do the job...
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LodeHacker
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Post by LodeHacker » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:40 am

Hello John!

I am very positive that in your case the graphics card does not play a big role as you have a dual quad core Xeon system, meaning 8 cores of extreme power. On top of that you have 16GB RAM, so tell me one application that is not satisfied with your setup.

alleycat's system is very different (he is after all building a PC and you have a Mac ;) ). I'm very positive that if alleycat can not afford an NVIDIA Quadro, a Mac Pro will be totally out of question. Accelerating Photoshop performance via GPU is an excellent idea and will "emulate" the presence of two processing units to Photoshop (just like you have a dual CPU setup, Photoshop will see and understand two processing units to which it can throw commands at).

Photoshop does not really need Quadro CX to get proper acceleration, or any Quadro FX for the matter. A faster CPU and loads of RAM is the cheapest solution, but a low end Quadro FX will do wonders. I have a Quadro FX basing on pre GeForce 6 technology, but in CAD use it is absolutely great.
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John Reid
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Post by John Reid » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:45 am

Hey... I edited my original post, here's a link from Adobe that outlines what a gfx card does these days... EDIT/// Duh, what Steve CA already pointed out...

http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/404/kb404898.html

Yeah, I know my machine is a bit of a beast, but my wife uses an iMac with integrated gfx, and handles big files without many issues (obviously slower).

alleycat
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Post by alleycat » Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:36 pm

Thanks John, that Mac performance guide has some great info.

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Post by Cistron » Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:38 am

I use Photoshop CS4 now and then. Very primitive work, such as separating channels, recombining them and altering the distribution histogramms (yeah, the joy of fluorescent micrograph optimisation). All effects seem to run smoothly (scrolling/panning, zooming, rotating) at work with a GeForce 9400GT and at home there's no difference with a Radeon HD3870. Both are PCs, with mediocre amount of RAM and a Core2Duo processor.

Besides the three effects I've mentioned above, I doubt there are many other functions that are supported. I guess it will take until OpenCL comes to play that more calculations will be done by the GPU.

fanerman91
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Post by fanerman91 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:12 am

John Reid wrote:I use the CS4 suite every day, lots of Pshop (large 1 gig PShop files are common).

I use the stock card that came with my Mac Pro Dual Quad Core Xeon, which is a lowly ATI Radeon HD 2600 256MB, no issues.

The only real time that 3D performance is needed is for screen redraw, and this new "feature" called Smooth Display that you can use that "slides" the image when you move around the hand tool. Also other eye candy that CS4 offers. If a card has over 128 MB Ram, and supports OpenGL 2.0 and Shader Model 3.0, you're good to go:

http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/404/kb404898.html

If your friend is a photographer, here's a link from a good site that reviews gear, and gives tips on Pshop setups. Mac-oriented, but computers are just tools, so the knowledge will carry over... There are some plugins that come with Pshop that are "hidden" that'll help a lot (Bigger Times plug-in is a major one to use)

http://macperformanceguide.com/Optimizi ... ation.html

Main thing would be to get a good scratch disk(s), a good RAID setup, and get as much RAM as the machine can swallow (my Mac has 16 gigs, and I have 4 slots left over!). :shock:

Have fun!
Off topic, but do those tweaks (particularly Bigger Tiles) also apply to PC's?

LodeHacker
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Post by LodeHacker » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:07 am

fanerman91 wrote:
John Reid wrote:I use the CS4 suite every day, lots of Pshop (large 1 gig PShop files are common).

I use the stock card that came with my Mac Pro Dual Quad Core Xeon, which is a lowly ATI Radeon HD 2600 256MB, no issues.

The only real time that 3D performance is needed is for screen redraw, and this new "feature" called Smooth Display that you can use that "slides" the image when you move around the hand tool. Also other eye candy that CS4 offers. If a card has over 128 MB Ram, and supports OpenGL 2.0 and Shader Model 3.0, you're good to go:

http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/404/kb404898.html

If your friend is a photographer, here's a link from a good site that reviews gear, and gives tips on Pshop setups. Mac-oriented, but computers are just tools, so the knowledge will carry over... There are some plugins that come with Pshop that are "hidden" that'll help a lot (Bigger Times plug-in is a major one to use)

http://macperformanceguide.com/Optimizi ... ation.html

Main thing would be to get a good scratch disk(s), a good RAID setup, and get as much RAM as the machine can swallow (my Mac has 16 gigs, and I have 4 slots left over!). :shock:

Have fun!
Off topic, but do those tweaks (particularly Bigger Tiles) also apply to PC's?
Yes :P
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alleycat
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Post by alleycat » Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:48 pm

Probably even more off topic, but in that optimization link there is a lot of talk about using a separate scratch disk. We were thinking of using a 30GB SSD as a dedicated scratch disk. Is this a good idea?

LodeHacker
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Post by LodeHacker » Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:45 pm

alleycat wrote:Probably even more off topic, but in that optimization link there is a lot of talk about using a separate scratch disk. We were thinking of using a 30GB SSD as a dedicated scratch disk. Is this a good idea?
Not wise. Cheap MLC SSDs have really bad write performance, so they would suck as a scratch disk for Photoshop. That said a fast, but expensive SLC SSD could work very well, but the cost is still very high and you could upgrade your PC with much RAM for the same price and still have money left for other stuff. The best scratch disk for Photoshop is a Ramdisk. So get as much RAM as you can get for your system.
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alleycat
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Post by alleycat » Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:43 am

I was considering getting an OCZ Vertex. I've already got one in my own PC, and performance (both reading and writing) is outstanding.

We had already decided that the Photoshop system will be filled with RAM. Since I wrote that last question I've been looking into scratch disks a bit more, and it seems that Photoshop uses any available RAM as a scratch area, and once this is full, it will start using the disk. It seems to me therefore, that a RAM disk would be counterproductive.

LodeHacker
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Post by LodeHacker » Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:50 am

alleycat wrote:It seems to me therefore, that a RAM disk would be counterproductive.
Not really, a scratch disk is not a must; Photoshop uses the scratch disk only when there's no free RAM available anymore, so the idea is to fill the PC with so much RAM that it only in very rare situations require to use a scratch disk. A Western Digital (Veloci)Raptor or a SCSI drive could work well as a scratch disk, but the added noise is not worth it and in the end no matter if in a RAID setup, the speed does not match that of RAM.

I was thinking about something like this:
Image
Though current implementations aren't so wonderful. Your options are limited in this regard, and an SSD is not optimized enough for scratch disk use. A scratch disk basically gets written to and erased, and even SLC SSD won't be healthy in such a situation where commands get thrown at in milliseconds.
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alleycat
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Post by alleycat » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:17 am

Sorry, didn't realise you were talking about that Gigabyte card. I remember seeing one a while back I think it was called iRAM. Pretty expensive if I remember correctly.

My friend was the one who suggested using the SSD, and it's his money, so if it dies prematurely he is prepared to simply replace it. We will be running Windows 7 which has better support for SSDs.

MLCs can handle 10000 writes, so for a 30GB drive, that equals 300TB of throughput. I've been reading a bit on the OCZ forums, and some of the guys over there have been giving their drives a real thrashing. No signs of any drives expiring yet.

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Post by LodeHacker » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:39 am

Well if you (or your friend) are prepared to buy a replacement SSD in case one dies then I see no problem. I thought longevity and stability of the system was an important aspect, but if you are willing to go for this approach I shouldn't be in the way.

By the way, take any user achieved impressive results of a product with a grain of salt, some are just lucky, others... not 8)
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Post by alleycat » Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:03 am

That's true. I'm curious to see how much punishment these SSDs can take first hand. Being a dedicated scratch disk, it shouldn't cause too many problems if it fails, and hopefully by the time it does, there will be better/cheaper ones around.

Thanks for your opinions, this process has forced me to learn a bit about how Photoshop works.

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Post by LodeHacker » Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:11 am

alleycat wrote:That's true. I'm curious to see how much punishment these SSDs can take first hand. Being a dedicated scratch disk, it shouldn't cause too many problems if it fails, and hopefully by the time it does, there will be better/cheaper ones around.

Thanks for your opinions, this process has forced me to learn a bit about how Photoshop works.
Here the opposite; this process reminded me of how damned resource hungry Photoshop can be :mrgreen:
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Post by CA_Steve » Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:17 am

I'm wondering...how much memory does Photoshop CS4 actually use in photography apps? Can't this just be settled using the mobo DRAM? Is there some point of diminishing returns?

eg: messing with a RAW image from a Canon EOS 5D Mark II

21Mpixel. I haven't dealed with RAW images, so this will be worst case...
21 Mpixel x 3 (RGB) x 16-bit = 126MB

Say you are dealing with layers and ea layer uses 126MB. 10 layers = 1.26GB. I can't imagine an operation on a layer needing more than 4 x the original file size (call it 512MB). Where does the massive amounts of scratch disk come into play? Having lots of windows/files open?

For grins, I wandered a bit and came across this article. Seems like 8GB is the sweet spot for large file work.
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Post by LodeHacker » Sat Jun 20, 2009 11:21 am

CA_Steve wrote:Where does the massive amounts of scratch disk come into play?
I'm pretty sure photographers, especially professional ones, don't edit a single picture per session. Also not everyone uses RGB. I know some photographers who swear by CMYK.

Let's take an example of my friend, who is a semi-professional photographer and owns a Canon EOS 50D. Usually he opens up more than ten versions of the same picture in a single Photoshop session. That translates to:
15 Mpixel * 3 (RGB) * 16-bit = 90MB or
15 Mpixel * 4 (CMYK) * 16-bit = 120MB

90MB * 10 (instances) * 10 (layers per instance) = 9000MB or
120MB * 10 (instances) * 10 (layers per instance) = 12000MB

9GB / 12GB is a lot already and this is when the scratch disk comes into play. The setup is pretty usual, I've been to a studio where a single picture was shared on 20 different monitors. That's 20 instances of the same picture, but retouching is not simple stuff.
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