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Technical Article   FAQ:  Does ArcGIS 10 support multi-core processors and/or 64-bit Operating Systems?

Article ID: 31903
Software:  ArcIMS 10 ArcInfo Workstation 10 ArcGIS - ArcEditor 10 ArcGIS - ArcInfo 10 ArcGIS - ArcView 10 ArcReader 10 ArcGIS Engine Developer Kit 10 ArcGIS Engine Runtime 10
Platforms:  Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista, Server 2008, Windows 7

Question

Does ArcGIS 10 support multi-core processors and/or 64-bit Operating Systems?

Answer

Background on hyper-threading and multi-core or multi-CPU hardware
Windows CPU manufacturers Intel and AMD are expanding performance capabilities of new processor technology with hyper-threading and multi-core processors. Hyper-threading is a way to virtualize two processors on a single physical core and is not to be confused with process threads, which may be a feature of an application. Hyper-threading improves system performance by allowing the operating system to run two independent processes apparently simultaneously on a single physical core. Multi-core processors provide more than one core on a single physical processor socket and are therefore a way to package more capacity on a system. Multi-core processors improve system computing capacity by making each core available as an independent CPU. Both technologies add available computing power to a system, but do not guarantee an application can use it.

ArcGIS Desktop running on multi-core or multi-CPU hardware
ArcGIS Desktop applications, for example ArcMap and ArcCatalog, are fully supported on multi-processor and multi-core computers, but in versions prior to ArcGIS 10, a single ArcGIS Desktop application session does not take advantage of multiple CPU systems, (for example, dual or multi-core processors). This is because ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 and earlier applications utilize only sequential process threads.

At ArcGIS 10, Desktop applications can take advantage of multiple cores. When using a basemap layer or accelerated raster layer in ArcGIS 10 applications, multiple threads are started to perform drawing and blending operations, and because these operations occur in another thread, they can take advantage of another processor core. As a result, the application’s user interface remains more responsive than at previous releases.

At ArcGIS 10, background geoprocessing can make use of another core; one core can execute the geoprocessing task and another can respond to user interface (foreground) operations. On a 64-bit edition of Windows, the available memory for all executing 32-bit applications is enlarged, making it beneficial to equip 64-bit Windows machines with more RAM. For example, at least 8GB of RAM would be beneficial if expecting to run two heavy processing tasks, one as a background geoprocessing task and one from a standalone Python script.

Some slight performance improvement from multi-processor systems can be experienced with any ArcGIS Desktop application. Concurrent operating system threads, e-mail, security checks, backups, and many other additional background application processes can be supported on the additional CPU resources without impacting ArcGIS Desktop application productivity.

On a single-CPU system it is possible to consume all the CPU resources from a single ArcGIS Desktop session, for example, when running a heavy geoprocessing task. At ArcGIS 9.3.1 or earlier, if running the same process on a dual-CPU or dual-core processor, the system CPU utilization peaks out at slightly above 50% with minimal performance gain. To fully utilize the resources of both CPUs for another busy thread from a separate process, a separate ArcGIS Desktop session or script or another application needs to exist.

ArcGIS power users, when working in multiple concurrent sessions, can take advantage of a multiple CPU environment. An easy way to accomplish this is to run multiple applications; for example, any combination of ArcGIS Desktop applications and standalone Python scripts. A multi-CPU workstation can significantly enhance heavy geoprocessing and/or heavy map production workflows that make use of multiple ArcGIS sessions within a single user workflow.

ArcGIS power Python scripters can write geoprocessing tools that make use of the subprocess or multiprocessing modules, which may enable the use of more or all available cores by running separate concurrent processes. Scripts using Python’s subprocess module can import ArcPy in multiple concurrent subprocesses, but in the case of multiprocessing, spawned processes and process pools cannot import ArcPy and should be limited to computational functions, which lend themselves to parallelization.


ArcGIS Desktop and other server platforms
For all other server platform environments, such as terminal server, Web services and GIS data servers, Esri technology takes full advantage of multiple-CPU platform configurations. These platforms must be configured to support multiple concurrent client processes. For example, terminal server supports several users per CPU; each Web server can be configured with several instances to support concurrent processing of inbound transactions. GIS data servers’ CPUs routinely support several concurrent ArcGIS Desktop client connections.

Related Information


Created: 10/2/2006
Last Modified: 12/5/2011

Article Rating: (15)
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Comments

By curtvprice - 10/31/2012 10:21 AM

The article needs to be updated.

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By Playa - 10/01/2012 8:30 AM

I would like to see a new article that discusses the topic outlined below.

ArcGIS does not support multi threading. The only way that a sort of multi threading is being support is through barckground processing from the geoprocessing environment. I've noticed on numerous occasions that even with this enabled both ArcCatalog and ArcMap become unresponsive. I do realise that change an existing program to use multi threads is a huge task though. Please update the following article to let your customers (us) know where you are in development of ArcGIS in becoming a full fledged multi threaded application. Our multi-core processors are useless until then. Our workloads and datasets are becoming larger every year and unfortunaly ArcGIS is not help in being able to process theses datasets efficiently. Please ESRI

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By Anonymous - 05/05/2011 10:29 AM

The article contains a typographical or grammatical error.

I would like to see an article at least addressing the issue that Esri products do not take advantage of the full potential of multi-core/threading processors, instead of a sales pitch. I would also like to see what the development plans are for future releases in regards to this issue.

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By Anonymous - 03/05/2011 8:20 AM

The article contains a typographical or grammatical error.

I definitely agree that ESRI needs to seriously revamp ArcGIS to take advantage of multi-cores. Core2Duo processors have been out since 2006. ArcGIS is still not taking advantage of the new processors that Intel is creating. I'm currently using an Intel i7 processor with 8 cores at a speed of 2.64 GHZ and ArcGIS 10 does not recognise the additional cores. ESRI should be one of the first to have adopted Multi-cores, higher frequency memory due to the ever larger dataset that we deal with.

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By Anonymous - 12/03/2010 3:07 PM

I followed the article’s instructions, but experienced another problem. I’ve provided details below.

I am not convinced of sephy59's "Update. If such were true the why does it seem, in actual work, ArcMap is more responsive on older CPUs, actually running at 3±GHz as opposed to newer multicore CPUs with rated clock speeds and all other components being roughly equal even with multiple sessions running?? Irregardless, the question remains, why does it appear ESRI has not kept up in the last 2 major releases?? Can't please everyone? I have no opinion for the "Rating" but it is required to post.

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By Anonymous - 12/03/2010 2:01 PM

I have suggested related resources/links that can enhance this article. See below.

Update: After installing SP1 I noticed that ArcCatalog does reach on occasion up to 100% CPU utilization (I have a screen shot to prove it), so it seems that the article is correct, but maybe it should be mentioned that SP1 is required to support multiprocessing.

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By Anonymous - 11/25/2010 9:08 AM

I have suggested related resources/links that can enhance this article. See below.

I second RobWA's comments. If you start a tool in an instance and then a second tool, the second tool will only start execution after the first tool has finished. CPU utilization never exceeds 50% (on a dual core machine). So claiming that Arc 10 can use multiple cores is false! Not implementing true multiprocessing should be remedied soon, as newer machines with 4 & 8 cores are becoming common, and using only one core makes them run slower than older machines! This is ridiculous!

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By Anonymous - 11/22/2010 9:53 PM

The article contains a dead link.

Actually, I would go so far as to say the article is dishonest, not just misleading. It should be stated VERY CLEARLY that a single instance of a single application (eg ArcMap) will only ever use a single core, no matter what resources are available. As it stands, I and my support team have wasted half a day upgrading to version 10 because we believed the false claim "At ArcGIS 10, Desktop applications can take advantage of multiple cores. " VERY ANNOYED ! Rob

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By Anonymous - 03/23/2010 12:52 PM

The article needs to be updated.

I'd to know if ArcGIS 9.3.1 supports QUAD CORE processors?

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By Anonymous - 10/11/2009 10:48 AM

The article needs to be updated.

I have been working for weeks with ESRI tech support because ArcMap ver 9.3.1 always stpos responding whenever I attempt to load a pre-existing map (Incident # 758367). It runs and has run on all my other pc's w XP Pro but will not run on my new dell workstation w QUAD CORE cpu's that also has WIN XP Pro. 4 Gb RAm and fast video card w its own dedicated mem. I have been told by tech support that ArcMap DOES NOT support quad core cpu's. Where's the reality?

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By Anonymous - 03/04/2009 11:11 PM

The article needs to be updated.

does ESRI support apps on quad core processors? are there advantages in using quad v dual on a single PC? will 4 GB memory give fast processing of most single batch jobs? thanks, plz rteply via email below Rick Young Tamworth NSW Australia

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By Anonymous - 07/15/2008 9:10 AM

The article needs to be updated.

The dual-core article should be updated to reflect ESRI support for quad-core with ArcGIS products. In particular, for ArcGIS "power users" working in multiple windows and supporting concurrent batch processing. If quad-core technology is not supported, then please let us know.

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By Anonymous - 07/11/2008 1:50 PM

The article needs to be updated.

Does 9.3 take advantave of multi-core processors

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By Anonymous - 02/28/2008 11:56 AM

The article needs to be updated.

Is this article still the case? If I purchase a computer with a quad-core processor, will a single ArcMap session only use one of the four core's? We need multi-threading in ArcGIS Desktop.

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By Anonymous - 05/04/2007 3:35 AM

Other - See details below.

Greetings, Will ArcGIS desktop run on Windows XP installed on an Intel core duo Mac? Currently, I use ArcGIS on one of the university servers through Windows Remote Desktop Connection from my PowerPC macs, but would I would like to run a local installation of your product without having to purchase a Windows machine. Eventually, I'll step up to the Intel-based Mac machines, but if what I'd like to do with ArcGIS Desktop is not only possible, but will execute without any glitches, I will con

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