Speed Up Flare Compile/Generation Times

Many have asked how the time for creating outputs can be reduced. The answer may not be all that intuitive. Those who have gone out and purchased the biggest, newest, fastest, whiz-bangy, multi-core, multi-thread, monster processor their budget can afford are usually rewarded with only a small improvement. How can this be? It is all about balance and data throughput.

General guidelines for the fastest compile times possible include having a well balanced PC. Many users make the mistake of getting an extremely fast processor and are then disappointed when the compile times improve only slightly. The thing to remember with all products like Flare is that at certain points of the generation process the processor is the slow point, but during most of the process it is the speed of the hard drive that is the slow point. Think about how many thousands of files have to be read, analyzed, modified, and then re-written to the hard drive in the typical project generation evolution. Thus the speed of the underlying hard drive system is just as important to generation times as is the processor.

You can check this very easily. Use a method of tracking CPU loading on your system (Ctrl-Alt-Dlt > Task Manager > Performance tab is a brute force method) and then compile/generate an output from Flare. Watch the CPU usage. If it spends a lot of time over 90% then a faster processor will help you. If it is rarely over 90% then a faster processor won’t help at all.

Finally, the amount of system resources also comes into play. Having an adequate amount of system memory can also significantly improve generation times in some cases (extremely large projects, many other applications concurrently running, etc.). The really good news about system memory is that the prices are falling rapidly. I just upgraded my home office machine to a full 4GB for about $50.

If I were to outfit a machine specifically for the fastest compile/generation times possible with Flare I would look at:

Dream System:
Processor – Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz Quad-Core $299
Hard Drive – Western Digital VelociRaptor 10,000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s $169
Memory – 4 GB of DDR3 $99

Median System:
Processor – Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz $190 OR AMD Phenom X4 9950 2.6GHz $170
Hard Drive – Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 320GB Serial ATA-300, 7200 RPM, 16MB $65
Memory – 4 GB of DDR2 $49

Budget System:
Processor – Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 2.53GHz/1066  $119
Hard Drive – Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 320GB Serial ATA-300, 7200 RPM, 16MB $65
Memory – 2 GB of DDR2 $29

In summary, to build a hot rod Flare compiling rig you need to first get the fastest hard drive you possibly can, then add as much system memory as possible (4GB wherever possible, but at least 2GB), and only then if you have any budget left over, look at a faster processor.

I hope that this helps!



One Response to “Speed Up Flare Compile/Generation Times”

  1. parsonsv Says:

    Fantastic Mike! Thanks. Your advice was just what I was looking for.

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