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Thread: Hardware for a high-performance graphics work

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    3

    Default Hardware for a high-performance graphics work

    Hi Forum,

    I am aiming to build a system for graphics work -- mainly photo editing (advanced) with GIMP, Hugin, Photivo etc. I also use digiKam for my photography workflow. Besides this, I will, in the near future, look at a (wacom) tablet for precision work with photo editing. My preferred desktop is KDE, if that matters.

    What I would like help with is a CPU, motherboard, RAM and graphics card combination. Also, will an SSD help with my setup?

    I am also looking at a high-res monitor (2560X1440).

    Any/all suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thank you very much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    277

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KenP View Post
    Hi Forum,

    I am aiming to build a system for graphics work -- mainly photo editing (advanced) with GIMP, Hugin, Photivo etc. I also use digiKam for my photography workflow. Besides this, I will, in the near future, look at a (wacom) tablet for precision work with photo editing. My preferred desktop is KDE, if that matters.

    What I would like help with is a CPU, motherboard, RAM and graphics card combination. Also, will an SSD help with my setup?

    I am also looking at a high-res monitor (2560X1440).

    Any/all suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thank you very much.
    i can tell you waht NOT to get... I am waiting for tech support folks from reseller to come back on failing hardware

    Photo editing is no longer gonna be issue for you. It really depends on how big are pictures you will edit.
    64 bit OS is a must. Fakalot of DDRAM 3 is a must these days. so get faster ram like 1600 or more if you have spare cash. The more you have it - the better. i suggest 32 GB at least. its gonna give you good overall boost to OS as well no matter how you look at it.

    Get Really big HDD instead of SSD. You wont notice much difference on linux. i never shut down my pc, so i rarely use my SSD. only at boot.
    get good CPU. Vishera from AMD seems to be good choice, providing Mother F&*$##$ works. Intel is also good, but i doubt you will notice much difference for a few hundred extra euro.

    GPU is irrelevant, most of job is done in CPU anyway. Blender takes advantage of GPU a bit now and it may become better in the future, but i see no point in this at the moment. I strongly suggest Nvidia or Intel, though AMD for your purpose should also be a OK. Last is not exactly my favourite for crap drivers. Bot binary and open source suck.

    if you have a lot of RAM HDD is irrelevant.all is cached anyway. and having SSD is not going to solve much in job related taks anyway. you can't cache your gimp onto SSD, since SSD die very quickly under load.

    So, a lot of rahter quick ram, motherboard with high front side bus speed and CPU that supports all that, ideally something with many CPU as i personally noted that Gimp seems to be multi threaded, but i dont use it that much. In a nutshell it will do.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dimko View Post
    i can tell you waht NOT to get... I am waiting for tech support folks from reseller to come back on failing hardware

    Photo editing is no longer gonna be issue for you. It really depends on how big are pictures you will edit.
    64 bit OS is a must. Fakalot of DDRAM 3 is a must these days. so get faster ram like 1600 or more if you have spare cash. The more you have it - the better. i suggest 32 GB at least. its gonna give you good overall boost to OS as well no matter how you look at it.

    Get Really big HDD instead of SSD. You wont notice much difference on linux. i never shut down my pc, so i rarely use my SSD. only at boot.
    get good CPU. Vishera from AMD seems to be good choice, providing Mother F&*$##$ works. Intel is also good, but i doubt you will notice much difference for a few hundred extra euro.

    GPU is irrelevant, most of job is done in CPU anyway. Blender takes advantage of GPU a bit now and it may become better in the future, but i see no point in this at the moment. I strongly suggest Nvidia or Intel, though AMD for your purpose should also be a OK. Last is not exactly my favourite for crap drivers. Bot binary and open source suck.

    if you have a lot of RAM HDD is irrelevant.all is cached anyway. and having SSD is not going to solve much in job related taks anyway. you can't cache your gimp onto SSD, since SSD die very quickly under load.

    So, a lot of rahter quick ram, motherboard with high front side bus speed and CPU that supports all that, ideally something with many CPU as i personally noted that Gimp seems to be multi threaded, but i dont use it that much. In a nutshell it will do.
    Thanks dimko! That's plenty of info for me to chew on.

    Cheers.
    KenP

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    991

    Default

    Hi KenP

    For gfx work you need fast CPU, preferably with ECC RAM because that will save you from memory corruption.

    Graphics do really consume a lot of RAM, regardless of program. For example, the same resize operation of 16Mpix image took 8 hours on a laptop with 512MiB RAM(XFCE) and only 10 Minutes on same laptop after I upgraded to 2,5 GiB.

    The cheapest configuration is AMD Vishera on AM3+ consumer socket motherboard from brands like MSI and ASUS, with at least 4 GiB of unbuffered ECC DDR3 RAM. With more money available, one can use either AMD Opteron or Intel Xeon solutions, again preferring unbuffered or registered ECC RAM, depending on motherboard capabilities.

    Regarding graphics hardware, it depends on your goals. I have no idea what distributions AMD actually expects its FirePro consumers to have, because I only read that their Catalyst solution is much more problematic than even own opensource drivers.

    So, if the work involved does not require GPU processing and workstation OpenGL applications (CAD/CAM), then I would prefer AMD graphics cards with opensource driver, anything within HD2xxx-HD6xxx range, excluding dual-GPU boards.

    Otherwise, I would prefer nvidia solution with nvidia binary driver.

    The thing around hard drivers is simple, if you prefer fast sustainable transfer rates over random area - SSD. If you want a reliable SSD, you need SLC-based drive.Otherwise, you can get much cheaper MLC drive, but its not very reliable. In this area, I prefer Intel drives.

    However, if you goal is fast transferrates over linear area, something like huge data blocks - 12Mpix+ camera RAW images etc, I would suggest getting large capacity small-business drives like WD RE series, or Constellation series from Seagate, or now WD-owned (Hitachi/IBM) Ultrastar series; or even SAS drives and putting them in RAID 1 or 10 configuration. As a filesystem for RAID configuration EXT4 or ZFS-on-Linux(without software RAID, using directly RaidZ). Also, I recommend to purchase disks for backups (perhaps build mini-fileserver, using openmediavault?), or buy online diskspace to make periodical backups.

    After initial build and reliability testing via stresslinux, I recommend to watch over SMART(via gsmartctl or directly smartmontools) for faulty disks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by brosis View Post
    Hi KenP

    For gfx work you need fast CPU, preferably with ECC RAM because that will save you from memory corruption.

    Graphics do really consume a lot of RAM, regardless of program. For example, the same resize operation of 16Mpix image took 8 hours on a laptop with 512MiB RAM(XFCE) and only 10 Minutes on same laptop after I upgraded to 2,5 GiB.

    The cheapest configuration is AMD Vishera on AM3+ consumer socket motherboard from brands like MSI and ASUS, with at least 4 GiB of unbuffered ECC DDR3 RAM. With more money available, one can use either AMD Opteron or Intel Xeon solutions, again preferring unbuffered or registered ECC RAM, depending on motherboard capabilities.

    Regarding graphics hardware, it depends on your goals. I have no idea what distributions AMD actually expects its FirePro consumers to have, because I only read that their Catalyst solution is much more problematic than even own opensource drivers.

    So, if the work involved does not require GPU processing and workstation OpenGL applications (CAD/CAM), then I would prefer AMD graphics cards with opensource driver, anything within HD2xxx-HD6xxx range, excluding dual-GPU boards.

    Otherwise, I would prefer nvidia solution with nvidia binary driver.

    The thing around hard drivers is simple, if you prefer fast sustainable transfer rates over random area - SSD. If you want a reliable SSD, you need SLC-based drive.Otherwise, you can get much cheaper MLC drive, but its not very reliable. In this area, I prefer Intel drives.

    However, if you goal is fast transferrates over linear area, something like huge data blocks - 12Mpix+ camera RAW images etc, I would suggest getting large capacity small-business drives like WD RE series, or Constellation series from Seagate, or now WD-owned (Hitachi/IBM) Ultrastar series; or even SAS drives and putting them in RAID 1 or 10 configuration. As a filesystem for RAID configuration EXT4 or ZFS-on-Linux(without software RAID, using directly RaidZ). Also, I recommend to purchase disks for backups (perhaps build mini-fileserver, using openmediavault?), or buy online diskspace to make periodical backups.

    After initial build and reliability testing via stresslinux, I recommend to watch over SMART(via gsmartctl or directly smartmontools) for faulty disks.
    Thanks Brosis. I am in the process of getting the hardware together.

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