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Why I NEED 80GB or 96GB Memory in my Mac Pro: Photoshop CS6 Performance

A few weeks ago, I wrote Upgrade to 80GB Memory in My Mac Pro, installed that 80GB in my MPG Pro Workstation.

OWC Mercury Accelsior
OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD card

Yesterday I was working on a big photography comparison involving many 16-bit layers from 18/22 megapixel cameras, also scaled up even larger.

Here’s why I need that 80GB, and I would prefer 96GB— Photoshop CS6 was using a whopping 56GB of real memory! The only way to avoid very sluggish performance is to make sure that such big jobs stay in memory!

Photoshop CS6 using 56GB of memory on my 12-core Mac Pro
Photoshop CS6 using 56GB of memory on my 12-core Mac Pro

And here’s why I insist on a RAID-0 stripe of OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD cards (though Photoshop has internal bottlenecks that limit its speed):

Photoshop CS6 writing at 510 MB/sec when saving a 24GB PSB file
Photoshop CS6 writing at 510 MB/sec when saving a 24GB PSB file
OWC Mercury Accelsior
OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD card

A single Accelsior PCIe SSD is just fine, but because I often have really big files (save size of 4GB - 24GB), I opted for the dual-card RAID-0 stripe.

CS6 performance prefs

Due to a performance bug in CS6, a scratch volume still gets used at inexplicable times, so I use Scratch, my RAID-0 stripe of dual OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSDs.

I never use the GPU (“Use Graphics Processor”); it causes visual glitches, and is actually slower for common operations.

Photoshop CS6 writing at 510 MB/sec when saving a 24GB PSB file
Photoshop CS6 performance preferences

Jonathan M writes:

I just love stuff like your Photoshop Preferences and your Mountain Lion Advice.

I thought something was the matter with my new 5770 card,( graphic glitches), until I read your piece, and of course you were right. I also adjusted the memory down from 95% to 75%(32 gigs).

Don't find that kind of thing anywhere else on the whole net that I know of.

Everyone else:(the usual Mac fanboi sites), are touting how cool the latest cat is for one stupid reason or another far removed from any professional needs.

DIGLLOYD: I can’t see anything beneficial to professionals yet in OS X Mountain Lion except removal of a few things that now slow my work down. But I did get back “Save As” with an obscure command-key shortcut.


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