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System and Speed-Up Tips. (Add yours here)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:58 am
by Tesselator
Tip #: 001
Mac computer running OS X, 16GB or RAM or more.

Here's one I discovered. I was researching some ways to optimize my system for photo editing and web browsing (which is about all I do with my system these days - being retired and all) when I came across an article by Perry Metzger written on Apr 3, 2012. The article outlined how to turn off OS X Lion's dynamic paging MMU system. I thought whack at first but I have 32GB of ram and haven't ran out or even neared the top for months so I decided to give it a try. The commands to do this are:

    sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

    followed by a reboot. And you can turn it on again with:

    sudo launchctl load -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

Some people claim this is a also a good way of enhancing the lifespan of your SSD drives as well. I do notice SIGNIFICANTLY less rotational-drive chatter and many many operations are noticeably faster. Especially OS operations like browsing around in folders with hundreds or thousands of images in each. Icons once displayed are actually instant... I don't mean fast either. On my system they were fast before. This is instant. Poof! A maximized window populated with any sized icons of RAW (or any kind of) images just appears and scrolling to the bottom of multiple folders each containing 4,000+ images works the same way. Browsing images in LR was sped up by about 10 or 20% too. Good news for those who like LR. Bridge was already very fast (about 6 to 8 times faster than LR) for poking around in image folders but it too became slightly faster. It's too fast in the first place to measure proper differences but doing the best I could with my stop-watch it's about double the speed with 1st time page displays (from about 2s to about 1s) and instant every time after that - for hours and hours and hours... and hours...

I don't recommend doing this with only 8GB or less however. But if you have 24GB or more then I feel comfortable recommending running your machine full-time with the dynamic pager turned off. 16GB would probably be OK too. It works on my older 12GB mac pro system just fine. This is why "with lots of RAM" is in the title. Furthermore you should probably run some kind of memory monitor in the BG. I've been using MenuMeters since, like, forever... so I didn't need to add anything to the installation.

I guess this will help with all versions of OS X from about 10.5 on up - which is when the paging system in OS X became slightly ridiculous. Give it a try and let us know after a few days of use, what you think.

Someone mentioned on another site that this is potentially dangerous in low memory conditions so I gave that a test and here are my results:

I loaded PS and upsized a two layer image file to 2,800 megapixels. It was noticeably faster than usual. Maybe 3 or 4 times faster. Odd that - I dunno why. I guess it has something to do with the continuity of RAM with that dynamic pager turned off but that's only a guess.


And loaded a bunch of heavy-ish apps:


    PS: 2 layer 2,800 megapixel image opened,
    Safari: about 20 tabs opened with several on image threads and one (displayed) with about 120 images in it,
    iTunes: 2739 albums displayed and all icons cached,
    Mail: with over 1 million messages in the displayed DB,
    6 Finder windows each displaying cached icons for over 400 images (plus sidecars) each - all cached,
    Adobe Bridge: displaying 1,068 images,
    iPhoto: Displaying the mouse-over icon anims for about 180 albums.
    LR 4 (newest update): In develop mode pointed to a library of about 600 images,
    And Dashboard switched to with all those little applets loaded (about 16).

I then loaded "Hardware Monitor", set up a panel just monitoring Free Memory and started quitting applications. I waited a little bit to let things settle down although there were no signs that anything needed settling which is HIGHLY unusual for OS X (!!!) and looked at the VM profile that Menumeters shows:


Then I came here to write this and of this moment there is a tad over 4GB of RAM being used (Safari is being used (reopened) with those same 20 tabs open - and iTunes is still going because I dig this song too much to quit it). When OS X first starts up with everything I have added on it occupies about 3GB of RAM. And now any one of the apps or windows I just had opened will open instantly. I tried PS it took 4 seconds to load. I tried the finder window showing 1,068 images and all the icons were already rendered - the window expanded into view with the icons in place and the entire set of 1,068 images were all still cached.

And I should add that browsing and clicking around in the finder windows is suuuuper smooth right now. Normally had I done something like the above I would be making coffee waiting for the system to stabilize and hoping it didn't crash.

You can try this tip with less than 16GB if you like. It won't hurt anything. Just don't get too involved in a work project until after you have tested out the system with this modification in place to make sure it will be stable for you.

Re: System and Speed-Up Tips. (Add yours here)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:00 am
by Tesselator
Tip #: 002
Two or more Barracuda 3TB (ST3000DM001)
Chipset which supports software RAID0 (I think they just about all do)

I have three 2-drive software raids in my Mac Pro. Each drive is 3TB and the raid is RAID0. So that's 18TB inside the box and lightening fast too. The newish Barracuda 3TB (ST3000DM001) drives are just amazing! Easily as fast as the fastest single consumer grade SSD solution - when 2 are in a RAID0 configuration (and only $100 a pop) and of course 6 terabytes each. I'm booting externally but if you were to partition one of those RAIDS the OS would scream - extremely similar to an SSD (only bigger and cheaper)! I posted some screenshots of their benchmark results and people didn't even want to believe it - funny but true.



BlackMagic Disk Speed Test
2-Drive RAID 0 Results in FPS.


Re: System and Speed-Up Tips. (Add yours here)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:02 am
by Tesselator
Tip #: 003
Two newish mSATA SSD drives and a RAIDable dual mSATA to SATA adapter.

The way I view things I think the square full sized SATA SSD drives are already dead and antiquated. With about the same speed you get 4 times the capacity at half the price with SSHD drives - and that's a factor of 8 to 1. If it's speed you want there are duel mSATA adapters for between $25 and $75 like so: and these little mSATA guys are the same speed as a full-sized SSD. With the adaptor they're two of them in a processored RAID0 so it's about twice the speed of the fastest SSD you can buy on a consumer budget! Here's a single mSATA SSD in a laptop:

Image Single mSATA Drive Results in an XPS-12 Laptop

Two of those in such an adaptor as linked above would be roughly two times these speeds. :) And AFAIK mSATA drives are fairly cheap. So 800 MB/s writes and 1 GB/s reads for about $300 a pop or something in the same form-factor (after assembly) in 256GB sizes. Larger sizes are available of course by using larger mSATA drives in the RAID0 set

If you're only considering a single (full sized) SSD just forget the idea and get an SSHD instead! Virtually the same speed, larger capacity, and lots cheaper!

Re: System and Speed-Up Tips. (Add yours here)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:17 am
by oldCarlos
Crikey, those posts must have taken you some time to sort out! (I suppose being retired helps eh. :wink: )

btw, off topic, but do YOU colour calibrate your monitor? (started a thread here; viewtopic.php?f=28&t=32142 so as not to spoil this thread)

Re: System and Speed-Up Tips. (Add yours here)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:31 pm
by Tesselator
oldCarlos wrote:Crikey, those posts must have taken you some time to sort out! (I suppose being retired helps eh. :wink: )

btw, off topic, but do YOU colour calibrate your monitor? (started a thread here; viewtopic.php?f=28&t=32142 so as not to spoil this thread)

Thanks, but it only took a couple hours (testing+posting) for each I guess. For tip #1 I've been using it for a few days so a lot of it is naturally accumulated.

CC, thanks for asking. No I don't. :) I worked in the broadcast video industry for a considerable length of time (here in Japan where I live) and my "color intelligence" is 100% accurate according to some sites. So I just wing it. :D I must be fairly close because my printed output (using printer handles color, ProPHOTO, 16 bit) looks identical to my screen. :D Besides, if I were gonna get all nit-picky about colors in this environment I'd need 8 or more monitor profiles to compensate for the various different ambient light that illuminates this room in various circumstances. And that seems like too much trouble. If I were doing reproduction work or something I probably would though. But if you have something to add here about that don't let me stop you. A lot of folks take that very seriously and would probably love to know of any related tips.

Thanks for the link! And don't worry about spoiling this thread. If you have a tested or semi-tested tip that makes anything faster or easier post it up! :)

Re: System and Speed-Up Tips. (Add yours here)

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:52 pm
by pierovera
Wow, great tips, thanks!

I'll share some of mine which I've discovered playing around with the Terminal, only downside though, they're Mac only. Probably with 32GB RAM, you might not notice a huge difference, but for others with lower RAM, it might help a lot. I use these tweaks because I own a computer with only 512MB RAM, so I'm constantly looking after ways of speeding it up, so here are my tips:

1.- Disable the dashboard
Personally I find it pretty useless, so entering this command at the Terminal prompt will disable Dashboard:

defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean YES

And then write:

killall Dock

Don't worry, it isn't permanent, to enable it again, just replace "YES" with "NO" and repeat the process.

2.- Enable quit for Finder
Lately I've found myself working in Photoshop and having the computer lag a lot, so I tried quitting all applications, but there was one still bothering me: Finder. Here is how to enable quit for Finder like it was any other normal app. Just type this command on the Terminal:

defaults write QuitMenuItem -bool YES

And then just type:

killall Finder

These are pretty simple tweaks that are very useful for low RAM Macs, I hope someone can find a use for them :)