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    Jim DeLillo

    For those of us that have come through decades of astrophotography processing, the latest software is something of a dream. Rendering time was often measured in hours. It wasn’t waiting for a cup of coffee, but having a whole dinner, or going to bed while the computer chugged away. Software like Pixinsight and advances in computer hardware, hence processing power, have come a long way. But how fast is your computer set-up, and can you do better?

    Wouldn’t it be great to measure the performance and compare it to other users or other set-ups? Well, You’re in luck.

    Pixinsight has a process called Benchmarking. As the name says, it allows you to measure the speed at which your processing executes and give you accurate numbers you can compare against as you make configuration changes.

    The higher the benchmark number, the better. It also reports raw values for transfer time speed in MB/sec and total process time in seconds.

    Changes that make an impact on processing time reside in both hardware and software configurations.

    Without investing in new or additional drives, an immediate effect can be seen and measured by making minor adjustments to Global Preferences in the Edit menu.

    Alterations to the number and location of swap files, number of threads, and number of processors have profound consequences. It comes down to trial and error to determine which settings make a difference. Usually, more and bigger is better, but that is not always the case. However, one trick is to use multiple swap file locations, usually between 4 and 8.

    Swap files and data storage locations that reside on an SSD (Solid-state drive) or RAM disk are hardware upgrades that affect performance. The obvious improvements of deploying a faster CPU or additional memory in equipment can remarkably change the speed. These modifications come at a cost. What is your time worth?

    The only way to check if the changes are beneficial is by running the Pixinsight Benchmarks and comparing the values before and after the modifications.

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