Does any CAT tool use processing power of a graphic card?
Thread poster: Stanislaw Czech, MCIL

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Member (2006)
English to Polish
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May 8, 2011

These days processing power of a graphic card may be greater than that of the central unit and I know that more and more programs are capable of taking advantage of this spare power. I am wondering if any CAT tool does it already?

Cheers
S


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:25
English to Russian
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No reason to do that May 8, 2011

First of all, the processing power required for CAT tools is quite small, any processor in a modern PC will handle it without any problems. Some delays you can see in Trados - for example, when handling tables - are mostly due to the use of Visual Basic in the interface module between Trados and Word.
On the other hand, not all graphic cards are really so powerful - game-oriented are, but office-oriented aren't. Furthermore, even powerful ones are highly specialized and not very well suite
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First of all, the processing power required for CAT tools is quite small, any processor in a modern PC will handle it without any problems. Some delays you can see in Trados - for example, when handling tables - are mostly due to the use of Visual Basic in the interface module between Trados and Word.
On the other hand, not all graphic cards are really so powerful - game-oriented are, but office-oriented aren't. Furthermore, even powerful ones are highly specialized and not very well suited to such tasks as may be presented by CAT tools. Finally, different families of graphic cards would have to use different software - they are not mutually compatible.
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Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Member (2006)
English to Polish
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TOPIC STARTER
I don't know about technical difficulties May 8, 2011

very likely they are serious but I think that speed largely depends on the size of the TM, extra power would make use of TMs containing million of TU and more much more feasible, especially in case of concordance searches.

PS: Of course not every graphic card would help here but from what I know some of the best graphic cards are better at numeric operations than some CPUs.

S

[Edited at 2011-05-08 22:52 GMT]


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:25
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
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More incompatebility problems May 9, 2011

I would think programmers of applications should keep it as simple and standardized as possible, otherwise even more problems arise than we see now already.

 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:25
English to Hungarian
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Not really May 9, 2011

Stanislaw Czech wrote:

I think that speed largely depends on the size of the T


Exactly.

Stanislaw Czech wrote:
extra power would make use of TMs containing million of TU and more much more feasible, especially in case of concordance searches.


No. "Power" is not a single, general characteristic of computers. They can be powerful or sluggish in many different ways.
Concordance searches and other TM searches are lookups, and, as such, are probably not processor-limited at all. They make use of and are limited by the hard drive and the memory (RAM). So, if you want faster concordance searches on large TMs, the first thing to do is get a lot of RAM. That makes sure that the TM indexes that Trados uses for searches are kept in RAM, and not bumped from RAM to the page file on the (much slower) hard disk. This is a pretty cheap and easy fix that should have a major impact if you're low on RAM. Switching to a fast hard drive would be the second line of attack. This requires a fast SSD, which today means either something from the likes of OCZ and Corsair with a SandForce controller in it, or an Intel. This will speed up disk-limited operations spectacularly - TM lookups may or may not be affected.

Even if TM lookups turned out to be processor-limited, which seems pretty unlikely, they'd probably still not be good candidates for GPU processing. Powerful GPUs are very good at certain, but not all types of calculations - i.e. they are faster than CPUs only in certain well-defined applications. And even then, as stated above, GPU processing requires some special sauce that is usually only suited to one specific hardware configuration.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Yes! May 9, 2011

Stanislaw Czech wrote:
These days processing power of a graphic card may be greater than that of the central unit and I know that more and more programs are capable of taking advantage of this spare power. I am wondering if any CAT tool does it already?

Not that I am aware. It would be fantastic indeed. Most modern computers have really powerful graphic processors that are not exploited at all.

However, a big share of the processing time in CAT tools is spent handling disk-based or Internet data, which is the actual bottleneck.


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:25
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Memory related? May 9, 2011

My translation memory folder contains 1,6 Gb of files. For all tools and all customers! So memory restrictions should not apply. TM are textfiles, my biggest tmx has only 140 Mb, and working TMs are only part of that.

 

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Member (2006)
English to Polish
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TOPIC STARTER
Faster concordance would allow different approach to concordance search May 9, 2011

For example it would be easier to use EU Commision's TM with over million units - just to be able to quickly perform concordance searches or to use any other large TM or use several TMs at once - it would reduce time spent on googling.

When it comes to RAM memory, 32 bit Windows is able to use only up to 3 GB of RAM before everyone switches to 64 bit it is going to be a problem.


 

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Member (2006)
English to Polish
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TOPIC STARTER
@ FarkasAndras - You inspired me :) May 9, 2011


Switching to a fast hard drive would be the second line of attack. This requires a fast SSD, which today means either something from the likes of OCZ and Corsair with a SandForce controller in it, or an Intel. This will speed up disk-limited operations spectacularly - TM lookups may or may not be affected.


I'll certainly look into faster had drives. I suppose that if I left the OS on my present drive and added a new one for TM and project files it would increase speed.

Cheers
S


 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:25
English to Hungarian
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Don't generalize May 9, 2011

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

My translation memory folder contains 1,6 Gb of files. For all tools and all customers! So memory restrictions should not apply. TM are textfiles, my biggest tmx has only 140 Mb, and working TMs are only part of that.


Memory issues do apply, you just don't experience them because you don't use very large TMs. The selection of TMs I use for EU jobs takes up a good couple of GB of disk space. Trados doesn't load them into memory in full, thankfully - but they still use a lot of memory. I just fired up Trados to see the RAM footprint: 700MB. If I could, I would use a lot more data, but Trados is already too slow as it is so I'm not pushing this further.
Obviously, if I only had 1GB of RAM, I wouldn't really be able to use the TM collection I use now. Even with 2GB of RAM to play with, if you have some other memory-hogging application running at the same time, the TM indexes may end up dumped to the disk after a while and that's not fun.


 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:25
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Faster drives May 9, 2011

Stanislaw Czech wrote:


Switching to a fast hard drive would be the second line of attack. This requires a fast SSD, which today means either something from the likes of OCZ and Corsair with a SandForce controller in it, or an Intel. This will speed up disk-limited operations spectacularly - TM lookups may or may not be affected.


I'll certainly look into faster had drives. I suppose that if I left the OS on my present drive and added a new one for TM and project files it would increase speed.

Cheers
S


I can't recommend a good SSD warmly enough. It's the best hardware upgrade you can make. Anandtech.com has exhaustive reviews on every (high-end) drive there is; you can read up on SSDs there if you need more detailed an authentic info than I gave above.
BTW you should definitely move your OS and applications to the SSD if you buy one, they benefit the most from the extra speed. A 120 GB SSD should hold the OS, apps and all work-related data easily. You can clone your current system to an SSD, swap the drives and keep on working as if nothing happened - only faster:)


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
I can't recommend a good SSD at all Jun 18, 2011

I've already heard enough about using video-cards for passwords brute-forcing, but not translating... I really don't think it will really benefit for even re-organized TMs as a translator will still have to re-check and adapt the computed info. So, the translator is always the bottleneck.

As for infamous SSD, it's lifespan is like a short-lived due to limited number of reads and writes (especially true for modern NTFS and other rather intensive transaction journal systems). M
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I've already heard enough about using video-cards for passwords brute-forcing, but not translating... I really don't think it will really benefit for even re-organized TMs as a translator will still have to re-check and adapt the computed info. So, the translator is always the bottleneck.

As for infamous SSD, it's lifespan is like a short-lived due to limited number of reads and writes (especially true for modern NTFS and other rather intensive transaction journal systems). My brand-new powerful notebook had an exotic (for that time), but high-end 80GB SSD under Vista and it died almost in a year of not very intensive working. After replacement and manual tweaking with NTFS features a new SSD of another brand served for almost two years, but I was disappointed regarding its price, size and time-to-live, so I replaced it with a HDD which is still ok. For more information about SSD vs. HDD see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive
(Now the only good exception is SSDs based on DRAM, but the price is... almost priceless.)

I remember when at my office in 2003 I had to work with a P4 2.8/DDR-400 2 GB dual/ HDD 160 GB SATA-150 5400 rpm... It was quite decent, but a real flop for processing big files and handling databases. Once my colleague explained me a little about RAMdisk (see MS site or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAM_Disk ). It appeared that a 1GB RAM disk was automatically mounted and all one has to do is to copy source files unto it and not forget to copy it back unto HDD as needed (what was scheduled and scripted at shutdown or sleep/suspend). Real instant access! The only strongly recommended safeguard is a reliable UPS.

Actually later I learned that this approach was implemented from slow notebooks where all components are 'less energy-hungry' (just crap).

Conclusion:
1. HDD is +++ (cheap [+] and fast [+] and usually lives quite long [+])
2. SSD is ++XX (rather expensive [-], faster than HDD [++], but rather short-lived [-];)
3. RAM is ++++X (cheap [+] and faster than SSD [+++] and lives long [+], but requires energy [-])

Guess who uses what))
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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
French to English
+ ...
Apologies for geekiness... Jun 19, 2011

Like others, I can't see that the need would outweigh the complications. Bear in mind:

- graphics processors are optimal... at doing CERTAIN tasks (in particular, repeating a single identical instruction or operation on a large number of data items); it's not clear that the kinds of operation involved in text processing fall exactly into this category (whereas, say, the processes of encryption might)
- the graphics processors in an average machine bought "off the shelf" vary h
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Like others, I can't see that the need would outweigh the complications. Bear in mind:

- graphics processors are optimal... at doing CERTAIN tasks (in particular, repeating a single identical instruction or operation on a large number of data items); it's not clear that the kinds of operation involved in text processing fall exactly into this category (whereas, say, the processes of encryption might)
- the graphics processors in an average machine bought "off the shelf" vary hugely, even among machines which are otherwise of the same make with the same processor ang general spec/price range; so whereas the processor and hard disk speed may vary by a factor of 2 or so between one typical machine and another, you could find that the speed of the GPU to perform certain operations could vary by a factor of 10 or more.

I repeat that I'm not talking about people buying special souped-up graphics cards-- I mean that this is the range of variability among your average "random mid-range laptop from Office Max", i.e. the kind of range you'll typically get among translators' machines. So whilst the developers of CAT tools may well bank on one typical target machine being twice as powerful as another, they probably wouldn't want to go to the trouble of designing a GPU algorithm that was then liable to be TEN times slower from one machine to the next. Then imagine trying to market to translators that to run the CAT tool, they need a laptop with an "OpenCL 1.2-compatible GPU". Do you think anybody in Office Max, let alone the translator, could actually tell them what machines would be suitable...?
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