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Extracting maximum Carbon simulation performance from your computer 2 years 2 weeks ago #417

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WARNING do not try this at home unless you know what you are doing.
Some of these changes may impact your computer performance in other areas.
Also, most of these changes only benefit hard core simulation, everyday computing does not really benefit.

Unfortunately, the focus in recent years has been on saving power and ease of use.
So out of the box computer bios and Windows settings are not optimised for performance.
Here are some things we have found you can do to improve Carbon simulation performance, without resorting to overclocking.

First, some bios tweaks that can help deliver 10 - 20% more simulation performance just by themselves!
  1. Your motherboard bios is probably factory set up to support virtual machines. This sucks memory bandwidth because I believe it is doing additional memory address checks. Simulation (with enough cores) is essentially cache / memory bandwidth bounded, so this hurts performance. If you are not running a virtual machine, then disable VM features in the bios. See image below for more info.
  2. Your motherboard bios is probably set to enable hyperthreading (Intel) or SMT (AMD) this is a performance killer for simulation. You want one thread per core running for simulation.

Now, we turn to Windows settings .... these can easily kill another 10 - 20% of your performance.
  1. You need to have your Windows power settings on "High Performance" or Windows will try and down clock your CPU when it can (like between frames when Maya or Houdini are not stressing CPU) and it costs time to spin up the clock again.
  2. You need to cull all those background tasks that will be trashing your cache and stealing cores ... like Windows update!
  3. Next you need to close all those apps that are not needed right now - including your Web browsers, they are also trashing your cache and stealing cores.
  4. Finally you need to Run Maya or Houdini in real-time mode to try and keep Windows focused on them. You do this in Task manager>details>right click the app>set priority>Realtime.

Do all this on a beefy CPU like the AMD 3970X and you can extract some amazing Carbon simulation performance.

Of course you could just use Linux and its definitely getting easier to use.
But there are still lots of reasons most of us still run Windows.
Additional suggestions for performance enhancements welcomed.

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