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ArcGIS Desktop - Performance forum

Computer system to use ArcMap   Tim Whaling Mar 03, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   John Taylor Mar 16, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   Tim Whaling Mar 17, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   John Taylor Mar 18, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   Tim Whaling Mar 23, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   John Taylor Mar 24, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   Tim Whaling Mar 25, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   William McIntosh Oct 20, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   Bob Christensen Oct 25, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   William McIntosh Oct 25, 2005
Re: Computer system to use ArcMap   Jim Sullivan Oct 25, 2005
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Subject Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author Tim Whaling 
Date Mar 03, 2005 
Message I need help in deciding which Dell configuration would suit my needs better.

I need to be able run the ArcGIS suite smoothly (primarily ArcMap 8.3). I want to avoid writing to the hard drive and also laggy/jumpy motion when I pan or zoom my file. Depending on the job, I pull in 60 to 200+ aerial photos (average 4 MB jpeg files) to create the base image and then I add additional layers such as streets, water & wastewater lines etc...

Basically I need to be able to manage/handle huge files with zero swapping to the HD, if possible and I need almost instantenous redraws on zooms and pans.

My assumption is that the critical factors are the amount of memory and the quality of the graphics card. The CPU plays an important supporting/assisting role.

Listed below are 2 configurations. The Optiplex would be leased for three years and then replaced with a newer, better computer. The Precision would be bought and kept for 5+ years with the intention of adding an additional Xeon processor and bumping up the memory.

OptiPlex GX280
Intel 915G Express Chipset
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 550 (3.40GHz, 1M, 800MHz FSB)
2.0GB DDR2 Non-ECC SDRAM,533MHz, (2DIMM)
128MB, ATI Radeon X300, DVI and VGA adapter, Dual Monitor

Precision 670 (Dual Processor capable)
Intel® Xeon™ Processor 3.20GHz, 2MB L2 Cache
2GB, DDR2 SDRAM Memory, 400MHz, ECC (2 DIMMS)
128MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 1400, Dual DVI or Dual VGA or DVI + VGA

What would you change in these configurations? Is going with the Xeon machine overkill? Would loading up the OptiPlex with 4 gigs of memory be sufficient?

I tested my current configuration to get an idea of what I might need.

I went into Task Manager and set the Virtual Memory monitor to see how much memory I was using. I managed to get the VM to over 1.4 Gigs before the system crashed. It recommended an increase in the paging file size so I increased it to 1531 MB (initial) - 3062 MB (max). That helped but I still had problems bringing in 100 orthos (jpegs) files.

When I bring in about 90 it seems to pull them in fine but if I pan or zoom some of the images get corrupt. They turn into black squares.

Here are the specs of the system I used:
Dell GX270 (Purchased approx. 4/2004)
CPU: P4 3.00 GHz 8 kilobytes primary memory cache 512 kilobytes secondary memory cache
RAM: 1 Gig (2 DIMMs dual channel)
VIDEO: Intel 82865G Graphics Controller (onboard Intel Extreme Graphics with 64 MB RAM)
HD: 80 Gig Maxtor 6Y080L0

I'm on a 100 mb LAN. I know the LAN is one of my bottlenecks.

I'm fairly certain that RAM is the other bottleneck. Onboard video probably also has a negative impact on performance.

Unfortunately I have no control over the LAN and therefore I can only focus my efforts on my client machine. Is ArcMap a multiprocessor aware application? Would I benefit from a dual processor configuration?

Thank you for your help. 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author John Taylor 
Date Mar 16, 2005 
Message Your current computer system doesn't look that bad. If you're deadset on upgrading I'd check out the Optiplex that you listed above. Your main bottleneck currently looks like the onboard video.

You're never going to escape writing to the harddrive, sorry to say it. A faster hard drive such as a 10k RPM drive (Western Digital Raptor comes to mind) would help speed up the loading of images. Why do you think the LAN is the bottleneck? 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author Tim Whaling 
Date Mar 17, 2005 
Message The reason I'm asking about what computer I need to upgrade to is because the CURRENT COMPUTER CAN NOT DO THE JOB!!!!!

I can NOT pull in the orthos and work on them! Images get corrupted but I'm assuming that a graphics card will help.

I want to minimize writing to the disk since that slows things down. Going with a Western Digital Raptor or SCSI drive will help in that area.

The ortho files I'm accessing reside on a network drive and the files are in a single folder. There are 10,000 files and that adds up to 14 GB worth of data. When I access that file it takes ArcMAP about 10 minutes to load a listing of the files in the "Add File Browser". During that 10 minutes if you go into the task manager it appears that ArcMAP is not responding. The bottomline is that when you create the layer with the orthos it takes 10 minutes to load the list and another 10 minutes to add the orthos. I would consider that a bottleneck. Since Orthos are static files (they are not changed/updated etc...) it would be a simple matter to copy the files to a CD or DVD and load the files on the local machine and that would eliminate the network bottleneck.

It appears to me that ArcMAP requires massive amounts of memory and a good graphics card to handle huge amounts of data.

What I'm trying to figure out is how much RAM is appropriate. Is 2 Gig sufficient or should I get 4 Gigs or more?

Will any graphics card do or do I need a high end workstation type graphics card like the 256MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 3400 or the 512MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 4400?

Thank you for your help. 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author John Taylor 
Date Mar 18, 2005 
Message Hi again Tim,
Thanks for elaborating on your problem. This is a long answer so put on a pot of coffee. Oh, before I get started, I just wanted to point you to the system requirements page:
(http://support.esri.com/index.cfm?fa=knowledgebase.systemRequirements.gateway)

Now that that's out of the way, you list some good ideas for getting better performance. I wanted to break down your thoughts to help you out. First, with no budget constraints you're golden. Second, the best way to upgrade your performance is to move those files to your local computer. You will see a big reduction in wait time. If you can't do that then try considering gigabit networking cards for faster network performance. From there, the following are the other options you have in speeding up performance:


"...Images get corrupted but I'm assuming that a graphics card will help."

You are correct. In reference to the graphics cards there are workstation videocards and then there are "mainstream" videocards. nVida's and ATI's workstation cards (nvidia.com and ati.com respectively) have hardware and drivers that are specialized for certain applications (expect to pay about $600 more for one of these cards over a "mainstream" card).

A regular videocard can do the job pretty well too. Just check for a 256bit memory interface for best performnace. Another major item to consider is the graphics card interface. There are three types (best performance 1st): PCI-Express; AGP; PCI. PCI-Express is brand new and will be more future-proof (i.e. this form factor will be around longer than the other two). However, as this is a brand new hardware standard, you MUST have a motherboard that supports PCI-Express. AGP is widespread and you will find this form-factor in 97% of computers built since 2002. PCI is a basic videocard hardware standard, not a whole lot of performance here.

If you like the nVidia workstation cards check out this page:
http://nvidia.com/page/workstation.html

If you like ATI:
http://ati.com/products/workstation.html

and remember the workstation cards are more oriented towards using 3D creation software... a good review of cards here:
http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2307


"I want to minimize writing to the disk since that slows things down. Going with a Western Digital Raptor or SCSI drive will help in that area."

A Raptor will help and a SCSI more so. It depends on money and computer setup. The Raptor will speed things up but uses an interface called Serial ATA (SATA). SATA has been out for about two years. You can find these types of connections on some of the newer motherboards/computers. SCSI is more expensive but will yield better performance. Look for Ultra 320 SCSI for the high/mid-end in SCSI hard drives. You'll most likely have to buy a SCSI card for your harddrives as well. The best price/performance ratio in this scenario is the the Raptor.


"It appears to me that ArcMAP requires massive amounts of memory...Is 2 Gig sufficient...? "

2 Gb should be just fine.

So if you keep your current hardware here are some options:
1.) You could upgrade to a Raptor and "mainstream" video card for the easiest/cheapest performance increase.

2.) You could upgrade to a Raptor and workstation video card for a more costly performance increase (not a huge gain).

3.) You could upgrade to a SCSI hard drive (plus cost of SCSI card) and a "mainstream" video card for a bigger performance increase.

If you go with a pre-built system check out Dell's Workstation but expect to pay ~$3000 for a SCSI/Workstation videocard setup:

http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/compare.aspx/precn?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd

I hope this helped. 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author Tim Whaling 
Date Mar 23, 2005 
Message John,

Thank you for your answer. That was the type of information I was seeking.

Before I asked my question, I looked at the system requirement page. I couldn't find ArcMap listed so I browsed other products. The system requirements seemed to be minimum requirements, the requirements to install the software on a computer but not necessarily be productive with the software. In my opinion, I found that page to be useless and that is stating my opinion in a complimentary manner.

My dilemma was that I have a "decent" (well above the specs listed on the system requirement page) computer yet I can't do what I need to.

Upgrading the existing computer is not an option. I have the authority to purchase a new machine and my existing computer will be passed on to a deserving soul.

There are 2 Dell systems I am considering:

1. Dual Xeon capable Dell Precision Workstation 670 ($3,800)
CPU: Intel® Xeon™ Processor 3.20GHz, 2MB L2 Cache
RAM: 2GB, DDR2 SDRAM Memory, 400MHz, ECC (4 DIMMS)
HD: 74GB SATA, 10K RPM Hard Drive with DataBurst Cache™, without RAID
Video: 128MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 1400, Dual DVI or Dual VGA or DVI + VGA

Pros:
1. Ability to add a second processor
2. Ability to add up to 16 Gigs of RAM assuming a 64 bit OS
3. Faster HDs and more configuration options
4. Better Video card

Cons:
1. Expensive
2. Slower CPU (based on MHz)
3. Slower RAM (based on MHz)

2. Dell Dimension 8400 ($2,800)
CPU: Pentium® 4 Processor 650 with HT Technology (3.40GHz, 800 FSB)
RAM: 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz (2x1GB)
HD: 80GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)
Video: 256MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) nVidia GeForce 6800

Pros:
1. Faster CPU (based on MHz)
2. Faster RAM (based on MHz)
3. Cheaper

Cons:
1. Limited upgrade ability
2. SATA HD only option available

Money unfortunately is an issue. My limit is ~$3,000. Option #2 fits my budget better.

One thing consistent with your upgrade recommendations is upgrading to a faster hard drive. I am hoping that 2 Gigs of memory will minimize HD swapping. I'm hoping/guessing that the faster CPU & RAM will compensate for the slower HD. Without benchmarks of both systems I don't know.

In my opinion, since I'm not doing 3D at the moment the "mainstream" higher end nVidia 6800 will serve my purpose. A Workstation type card is overkill.

My intention is to keep these machines as long as possible. Having an upgrade path is desirable but only if I can upgrade to a machine that will enhance my productivity. I don't know if ArcGIS is dual processor capable and if I'll ever actually need more than 2 Gigs of memory. I'm assuming that there will be a relative stable and bug free 64 bit Windows in the near future followed by a relative stable and bug free 64 bit ArcGIS. That may be 3-5 years down the road and at that time it may make more sense to purchase a new machine and not upgrade the existing machine.

Pleased let me know if I’m on the right track.

Once again, thank you for your help.

Tim
 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author John Taylor 
Date Mar 24, 2005 
Message Tim,
I tossed the system requirement page just in case you didn’t see it. Are you fixed on one of those two machines you listed? You might want to check out the Dell Precision Workstation 370 on Dell’s Small Business page:
http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?c=us&cs=04&kc=6W463&l=en&oc=370trec&s=bsd

If you go with these options it will keep you under your budget:
CPU: Intel Pentium4 Processor 3.20GHz, EM64T, 2MB/800
Hyperthreading: On
Memory: 2GB, 400MHz, DDR2 SDRAM Memory, NECC (2 DIMMS)
A keyboard and optical mouse
Hard Drive option C4
Hard Drive: 73GB Ultra 320 SCSI, 1 inch (15,000 rpm)
Hard Drive Internal Controller Option: U320 SCSI Card - For Connecting Internal Hard Drives
CD/DVD-RW: 16X DVD+/-RW w/ Sonic RecordNow! Deluxe plus, CyberLink PowerDVD
Videocard: 64MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro NVS 280, Dual VGA Capable (to be discussed below)
Software package: Microsoft Office Basic Edition 2003 and Adobe Acrobat 6.0

That will come out to be about $2,400.

Now there is an issue with the videocard, they don’t give you much of an option….
One thing I would do is call the Dell Support site and ask if they would support a nVidia 6800 PCI-Express in the machine and if the warranty would be good if you installed the card (or had someone else do it). That’s about it.

If you wanted to save some more money, you can forgo the SCSI drive and the SCSI card (it’ll save you about $400) and add a Raptor hard drive (it’s the 74GB SATA 10k RPM drive option).

I hope this helped you out a little more.

John Taylor
 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author Tim Whaling 
Date Mar 25, 2005 
Message John,

The Precision Workstation 370 looks like a better option. I think I'll go with that system.

I'll try out the video card you listed. I think it will be good enough but if it isn't then I'll go for an upgrade.

Thanks for your help.

BEGIN RANT
Based on the system requirements and the tools available, I think I would be better off totally dropping the ArcGIS product and going with a solution from Bentley or perhaps Autodesk. These CAD packages have better design/drawing tools and they seem to require less horsepower. They also have the capability to draw in real world coordinate systems and generate ArcGIS readable files.


The ArcGIS product line needs to be redesigned to be able to manage large number of larges files. The drawing tools need to be more CAD like and you shouldn't have to purchase a supercomputer to get mediocre performance out of the software package.
END RANT 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author William McIntosh 
Date Oct 20, 2005 
Message I am in charge of ordering new computers for my section (US Army Corps of Engineers, Geology Branch). We all have Arc 9 and use it regularly displaying aerials, points, and DLGs. Most of us use spatial analyst pretty often as well. Very few of us use 3D Analyst. What should be my minimum requirements for these new notebook computers?

Based on the standard notebook setup that has been recommended to me (Pentium M 1.73GHz), I'm thinking of upgrading 64MB vid memory to 128 MB; upgrading 512MB DDR to 1GB; and upgrading hard drive speed to 7200RPM. Would this cover it, as I would hate to waste our tax dollars on upgrades that may be excessive and unnecessary?

Thanks.
William McIntosh
Savannah, GA 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author Bob Christensen 
Date Oct 25, 2005 
Message William, your specs look sound to me. I am currently testing similar laptop systems (pentium M, 128MB video, 1GB Ram, 7200 HD) and they seem to work very well.

I would not mess with anything less than 1 GB RAM and the video card is a classic bottleneck.

bob 
  http://www.seawead.org 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author William McIntosh 
Date Oct 25, 2005 
Message Thanks a bunch Bob! I really appreciate the advice. I wanted sufficient performance, but didn't want to over do it and be the bane of all of my cohorts in private sector. Sounds like this may be the perfect balance of modest performance for what we do. Thanks again!

William 
   
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Subject Re: Computer system to use ArcMap 
Author Jim Sullivan 
Date Oct 25, 2005 
Message What if performance is more of a priority than cost? We're using 3-D analyst to calculate volumes with high density and resolution data. It takes 10-15+ minutes for each calculation. The machine crashes about half of the time. We're currently using the following machine:

3.4 GHz Intel P4 6xx series processor, 800Mhz FSB
1.0 GB DDR2 RAM, Approx. 80GB SATA II hard drive,
256MB Radeon X600 PCIe video, 19” CRT Monitor
100/1000 Ethernet,
Windows XP Professional SP2.

I'd like to make sure that the machine that we upgrade to will have the best performance possible, that machine crashes are eliminated and the computing time is as short as possible. I'd rather spend $5k if we need to, to get the machine that would work. One problem I have is not understanding where we really need speed, i.e. dual xenon processors, video, ram, etc. Any reccommendations that you have would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Jim