Friday, July 20, 2007

Photoshop performance & Upgrades

My Wife, Michelle, is a photographer, and as such, I am her IT department. Now, don't get me wrong, I love being her IT dept. However, her recent performance issues have me perplexed:

Photoshop crawls on her PC. We recently re-installed windows (to increase her boot disk's size), and she's got a powerful PC (Athlon64 3200+, 2GB DDR RAM, RAID-array for data, separate boot disk, discrete graphics, XP Pro), but Photoshop is slow when she does batches or large images.

So, in my geeky wisdom, I decided we needed to start thinking about upgrades, and here is where it gets troublesome:

1. Windows XP Pro (32-bit) only supports 2GB RAM per application (i.e. Photoshop can't really use much more RAM than she currently has).

2. Windows XP x64 is a minefield. From my reading, it seems that you should avoid XP x64 unless you are looking for an unpleasant experience.

3. Windows Vista is cutting edge (and I personally think it's bloated and still maturing). This means that we may have to replace her printer, scanner, and some other unknown thing if we move to Vista 64-bit.

4. DDR2 RAM is very cheap right now. I can buy 4GB of DDR2 800 for the price of 2GB of DDR 400. That's good-old economics.

5. AMD & Intel are in a CPU price-war. AMD slashed prices, and Intel is rumored to follow on Sunday (July 22nd). She currently has and AMD 939 Athlon64 processor. However, we purchased this AMD 939 to AM2 converter board (she has an ASRock 939Dual-Sata2 motherboard). That means that she could get an AM2 CPU and DDR2 ram as a drop-in replacement. Prices on AM2 cpu's are ridiculously cheap.

6. To complicate the upgrade waters, Intel is giving AMD a beating in performance right now. The Core2Duo is just smokin' fast. AMD is rumored to compete in the late-fall, but what about now? When Michelle was a starving photographer (without a 6 mos. old), we had serious budget concerns. Now that her time is more valuable, she can afford to pay for a bit better performance (but not "Extreme Edition" performance;).

Here's what I'm thinking and praying may work: Dual-boot Windows Vista Business ($150) or Ultimate ($220), and then upgrade her components (using a ~65W CPU). Once we're sure that Vista can handle things (and is fast enough), we can delete the XP partition.

AMD Upgrade: ~$330 for an AMD A64 X2 and 4GB of OCZ Vista Upgrade DDR2-800

Intel Upgrade: ~$750 for an Intel C2D E6750/E6550, Asus P5K mobo, a PCI-e VidCard, and 4GB of OCZ Vista DDR2-800 (1066MHz DDR2 is very pricey right now).

What's a guy to do? Intel for a performance increase, and possibly a better upgrade path, or AMD for the cheap route?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Firewall's & VPN

So we're looking hard at upgrading the Data and Voice provider technologies here at Calvary. This will involve increasing bandwidth at Mid-Rivers, providing Site-to-Site VPN capabilities, and reducing our voice and data monthly charges.

One of our providers offers a Fortigate 60 at branches as part of their site-to-site vpn/Voice/Data solution. This looks like a pretty nice product. It offers VPN, Firewall, Antivirus, dual-wan, Spam, and many other features.

I wonder how it compares to oss-based solutions like pfSense, Shorewall, m0n0wall, and Smoothwall. We currently use pfSense, and it works great, but I haven't really delved into the VPN features.
Anyone have any experiences with Fortigate products?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New blog

Well, I've started a Church IT blog. Hopefully I'll keep it updated, and I'll be posting all kinds of items here: questions, comments, and other musings and thoughts of a Church IT guy.

Leave me some comments, and let me know what's going on!