Will a new iMac with 8GB of RAM handle darktable for the foreseeable future?

I need to upgrade my old laptop and have gotten a very good offer on a used iMac. The specs are as follows:

  • 8 GB RAM
  • 8 core CPU (4 “performance cores”, 4 “efficiency cores”)
  • 8 core GPU
  • M1 processor

I’m shooting 21MP raw photos (Canon 5D mk II), but is considering moving up to mk III. (22MP)

I check with Activity Monitor today and while just playing around randomly in Lighttable and Darkroom, I rarely saw darktable consuming more than 1GB of memory.

My question is; will this spec work reasonable for darktable in the coming 5 years?

8GB is not that much - but it won’t be slower in 5 years as long as you don’t increase your cameras mpix :wink:
it mostly depends on your workflow - if make massive use of e.g. diffuse & sharpen you’ll need to be patient now and also in 5 years.
if there’re more performant algorithms in 5 years or even more performance hungry but better modules in 5 years - nobody knows …

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Only if I turn off Wi-Fi. :wink: If the spec is just enough today, it won’t be in five years. OS will use more, darktable probably as well, new background apps will be installed, browser will use more, …

I want some comfortable wiggle room, although I appreciate that ”good performance” is subjective.

I should also clarify that the only option is to add 8GB of RAM. CPU and GPU will remain as stated.

8 GB RAM is the minimum the project recommends. If you do a lot of photo editing I’d opt for 16gb.

Also keep in mind that Apple seems to make it harder and harder for Foss to run well on their OS.

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Diffuse or sharpen is a very resource hungry module, but also a very good module to use. I am wondering what is the main resources being used here by D&S, Is it CPU, GPU or RAM? I presume a combination of each, but what is more important when looking at new hardware? Thanks for your time answering this.

GPU with lots of ram will give you the most performance gain.

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I don’t do very much editing, but I also want it to be an enjoyable experience.

Yeah, I’ve heard that macOS is separating from Linux more and more (Metal vs OpenCL, signing).
I hope it will get resolved. It would be a shame if you couldn’t enjoy both Apples lovely ecosystem and all wonderful FOSS projects.

Thanks! I’ll probably pass on the deal and ensure I future proof as far as the bank permits.

Also remember that the RAM is shared between the CPU and GPU, so 8GB total will probably result in a lot of swapping (that will degrade the SSD and at some point make the computer unusable, as you can’t change SSD) even though macOS has very good memory management.

In this day and age even 16GB is pushing it (depends on what you do).

For office work and web development I still have a 4GB RAM Macbook Air, it works just fine (for that purpose).

My 8GB M1 mini beats the living bejeepers out of my 64gb xeon cylinder no matter what I throw at it. I don’t know about the imac, but I did notice the M1 mini can be purchased at costco for under $600 USD now.

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I wouldn’t have bought anything with only 8GB even 10 years ago.

That being said, it seems that the demand for more Ram has slowed down. 16 was good in 2013 and is still good today. I’d still check if you can upgrade it first.

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On Apple Silicon, the limited embedded Ram is not used for some computational gpu units that would have been resident there on intel/amd 64, because they reside in highly efficient super-arm chip roms. 8 and 16 GB of silicon embedded on-die non upgradable ram is very okay on AS, and totally :apple:::tangerine: not comparable to intel ram thirst.

I left darktable and prefer [other]. DT was not able to export my gigapixel photos despite 128GB of RAM. [other] also calculates with 32 bit and is much more affable and faster. But I’m talking about photos between 5 and 20GB file size.

edit: I have to correct my statement. The possibilities and quality of darktable are simply outstanding, so I have adjusted my workflow so that there is no memory bottleneck. DT is a must-have, even enough RAM is a must-have to use DT.