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Harlequin Parallel Pages. The Parallel Pages option decouples interpretation from compositing and rendering, allowing one thread to interpret page two of a job while the other threads are still compositing, rendering and outputting page one. This ensures the highest possible throughput.
RIPing a job comprises several steps, some of which can be processed by multiple threads in parallel. Conceptually each major thread, performing a task that requires significant CPU time, can be thought of as running on a single core, although thread management schemes may mean that the reality is a little more complex. Thus a RIP on an eight core computer might be configured to spawn seven major threads for heavyweight processing, making use of seven cores (leaving one for the operating system). Lightweight management threads that don’t use much CPU time typically share a core with major processing threads.
Both transparency compositing and rendering can be multi-threaded in the Harlequin RIP. The rich use of multithreaded techniques utilized in the latest Harlequin RIP are illustrated below. In this diagram each row of colored blocks represents a series of software threads. The number of threads that can be allocated to the RIP can be configured; this diagram shows 5 concurrent threads in action, which would be suitable for a six core computer, leaving one more core for the operating system and other ancillary tasks.
Multiple threads are used to perform the various steps of RIPping and outputting the pages of a job at once; there are no longer any periods when only a single thread is active. This ultimately gives a performance boost in single-RIP integrations, allowing them to be used to drive light production and medium volume devices at higher page rates avoiding the need for implementing multiple RIPs for light and medium production, reducing development costs and time to market. This option also enables more efficient utilization of CPU cores in configurations using multiple RIPs, ensuring that all cores are kept busy for a larger proportion of the time without risking lost performance caused by clashing requests for CPU time from too many threads at once. High volume devices can be driven with fewer RIPs on fewer computers, reducing the bill of materials for hardware and operating systems for your digital front end (DFE). It also avoids any need for custom hardware.
Up to a 30% Increase in Performance. Both graphs shown were captured using the same scale/resolution and were processed using the same job, using configurations that only differ in the use of Harlequin Parallel Pages. The length of the graph represents the processing time for the whole job.
The top graph shows processor activity for the standard Harlequin Host Renderer using multithreaded compositing and rendering, but not Harlequin Parallel Pages. This graph shows that several cores are idle while pages are being interpreted, which means that there is still more performance to be squeezed out of the computer.
The bottom graph shows the Harlequin RIP processing the same job with Harlequin Parallel Pages enabled. The same job RIPped 1.3 times faster than before. The resulting performance graph shows that all of the cores in the processor are working for a much larger portion of the time. As a result, the total time for the job is significantly reduced.
Why use Harlequin Parallel Pages in RIP Farms? When driving high-volume digital presses with recommended maximum monthly volumes over 1 million pages it’s common to use multiple RIPs within the digital front end (DFE). This is often described as a RIP farm. RIP farms allow extremely high throughput, at the cost of an extra layer of management software to split jobs across the RIPs and collate the rasters delivered from them.
The use of multi-threading in Harlequin RIPs has increased the performance that can be achieved using a single RIP. This means some devices that would have previously needed a RIP farm, such as some light production digital presses, can now be driven using just one RIP. The resulting reduction in integration costs can allow a faster time to market. The increased constancy of core utilization achieved with Harlequin Parallel Pages means that threads can be configured for each RIP without needing to over-allocate them as much, reducing the risk of delays from thread switching and cache flushing.