The following hardware and software requirements and recommendations apply to all current versions of PixInsight 1.8 Ripley.
PixInsight is available for 64-bit machines supporting the x86_64 / EM64T architectures: Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9, Intel Xeon, AMD 64, etc.
The PixInsight platform has been ported to the FreeBSD, Linux, Apple macOS and Microsoft Windows operating systems.
The current versions 1.8.x of PixInsight are only available as 64-bit applications for all supported operating systems. Please note that no 32-bit versions will be released anymore. Note also that any existing 32-bit version will no longer be supported or updated.
The primary development platform for PixInsight 1.8 is Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation 7.2.
- Tested FreeBSD releases: FreeBSD 10.2-RELEASE x64, FreeBSD 10.1-RELEASE x64.
- Recommended FreeBSD configuration: PC-BSD 10.2 Desktop or later, with KDE 4.8 or later, or Gnome 3.2 or later.
PixInsight 1.8.5 for Linux requires a 64-bit Linux distribution with glibc version 2.17 (December 2012) or later and CXXABI_1.3.8 (GCC 4.9 or later).
- Tested 64-bit Linux distributions: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation 7.1 and 7.2, Fedora 19, Fedora 20, Fedora 21, Fedora 22, Fedora 23, Fedora 24, Ubuntu 16.04. Other Linux distributions for x86_64 should work without problems, as long as they provide glibc 2.17 or later. However, please understand that we cannot guarantee that PixInsight will work out-of-the-box on any of the hundreds of different Linux distributions available.
- Recommended Linux configuration: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation 7.2 or Fedora 24-26 x86_64 with KDE 4.8 or later, or Gnome 3.2 or later.
- macOS 10.12 (Sierra)
- Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)
- Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)
PixInsight is no longer compatible with OS X 10.7 (Lion) and older versions.
OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) are not supported. PixInsight should run on OS X 10.9, but we no longer test the application on these old OS X versions, so we cannot guarantee that it will work correctly.
- Microsoft Windows 10
- Microsoft Windows 8.1
- Microsoft Windows 8
- Microsoft Windows 7 – Service Pack 1 required – see note below
PixInsight does not run on Windows XP, NT, 2000, ME, 98, 95, or 3.1x/Win32s.
Windows Vista is not supported. PixInsight should run on Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 installed, but we no longer take into account this Windows version specifically, neither for development tasks nor for testing, so we cannot guarantee that it will work correctly.
Windows 7 is no longer one of our mainstream supported platforms. We make efforts to ensure that PixInsight still works on Windows 7 SP1, but we no longer test the application intensively on this Windows version, so we cannot guarantee that it will work without any issues.
- Minimum required processor: Intel Core Duo or equivalent.
- Minimum reasonable processor: Intel Core i5 or equivalent.
- Minimum recommended processor: Intel quad-core Xeon, quad-core Core i9/i7, or similar.
- Examples of recommended performance processors: Intel Xeon E5-2697 v4 @ 2.30GHz / Intel Xeon E5-2697 v3 @ 2.60GHz / Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2 @ 2.70GHz / Intel Core i9-7900X @ 3.30GHz / Intel Core i7-6950X @ 3.00GHz / Intel Core i7-4960X @ 3.60GHz.
By default, the PixInsight platform will use all processors and processor cores available on your machine. There are specific preferences settings to control the maximum number of processors used by PixInsight, along with other parallel execution options such as thread execution priority, thread processor affinity, etc.
See the PixInsight Benchmark community-driven project for up-to-date information on hardware performance.
- Minimum required amount of RAM: 4 GiB on a 64-bit machine and operating system.
- Minimum reasonable amount of RAM: 8 GiB on a 64-bit machine and operating system.
- Recommended performance RAM: From 16 GiB to 64 GiB (depending on the sizes and number of images to process) on a 64-bit machine and operating system.
Being a 64-bit application, PixInsight has no practical memory limit. It will use all memory available to applications, and will cause the operating system to allocate virtual memory on disk when necessary.
- Minimum required display resolution: At least 900 pixels of vertical resolution.
- Minimum reasonable display resolution: 1920×1080.
- Recommended low-dpi display resolution: 2560×1440.
- Recommended high-dpi display resolutions: 3840×2160 (4K) / 5120×2880 (5K) / 7680×4320 (8K).
We strongly recommend a high-end 27-inch or larger LED/LCD panel, or two panels driven by a dual-head video card. For serious image processing, working with large monitors is a real must with PixInsight.
Since version 1.8.4 (released Summer 2015), PixInsight is a fully scalable application supporting high-dpi display resolutions such as Retina displays, 4K, 5K and 8K displays, on all supported operating systems.
Important: We do not guarantee the correct behavior of our graphical user interface on screen resolutions smaller than 1920×1080. Note that this refers to logical resolutions, not physical (for example, a Retina display with 2880×1800 native resolution has 1440×900 logical pixels). The application will run on smaller resolutions, but you may need to perform manual adjustments such as closing control bars and explorer windows, or changing automatic high-dpi screen and font management settings. Even with manual tuning, PixInsight has not been designed specifically to work on very small screens.
FreeBSD and Linux
On X11 (FreeBSD and Linux) a compositing extension manager is required. Hardware-based compositing, such as OpenGL, is a precondition to run PixInsight on all platforms. This should be no problem at all on any modern X11 desktop. As an exception, the KDE desktop environment allows you to use software-based compositing (XRender) on systems without hardware acceleration. XRender compositing works fine, but is slow. However, XRender allows you to run PixInsight on a virtual machine where the virtualization system does not provide video hardware acceleration to guest operating systems.
To work with two or more monitors on FreeBSD and Linux you must have the Xinerama X11 extension installed and correctly configured—this should work out-of-the-box with all modern X11 desktops.
As of writing this document (August 2017), the current version 1.8.5 of PixInsight doesn't make direct use of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), although it makes extensive use of display hardware acceleration via OpenGL on all platforms. Hopefully this will change in the medium-long term. We have plans to implement GPU acceleration in PixInsight, but currently we have much more important priorities, including evolving our development platforms, and the design and implementation of new image analysis and processing tools.
To maximize availability of RAM for critical tasks, the processing history management and masking systems implemented in PixInsight are based on temporary disk swap files. In addition, more space is required during file writing operations because of disk I/O security strategies (basically, when an existing file is rewritten a temporary copy of the original is kept during the whole disk write operation).
We really cannot speak of a minimum required free disk space, since this depends on the number and dimensions of the images that the user opens and modifies in the application. PixInsight is able to store and manipulate seven different sample formats transparently: 8, 16 and 32-bit integers, along with 32 and 64-bit real and complex floating point. 32-bit and 64-bit images require two and four times more disk storage space, respectively, than the native 16-bit format of a CCD camera. In addition, PixInsight can store an unlimited number of history states (unlimited undo/redo operations). This makes PixInsight Core a demanding application regarding free disk space requirements. For serious production work, we recommend a minimum of 50 to 200 GB of free hard disk space, depending on the average size of your images and the complexity of your processing workflows.
PixInsight demands fast hard disks. We recommend working with solid-state disks (SSD) or high-throughput SCSI, SATA or SAS disks.
Under Windows, disk fragmentation may affect performance severely. You should always keep the information reasonably compacted on your hard disks by running the Windows defrag utility frequently, or any suitable disk maintenance utility. This is true for both the NTFS and FAT32 file systems.
FreeBSD, Linux and macOS
The native file systems of these operating systems (ext3, ext4, xfs, zfs, hpfs) have minimal fragmentation problems thanks to their design. Fragmentation on a typical Linux or macOS disk is very low no matter how much file system activity occurs. There is no need for a defragmentation utility on FreeBSD, Linux and macOS.
Starting from version 1.4 (released in early 2007), PixInsight uses parallel disk I/O operations to generate and maintain temporary swap disk files. When two or more physical disk drives are available, PixInsight can be configured to spread swap files on all disks (no specific limit), and read/write them through parallel execution threads running concurrently.
Since version 1.8.3 (released in late 2014), PixInsight's parallel swap storage is optimized for multiple I/O threads on fast SSD drives and virtual RAM disks. See this forum thread for the official announcement of this feature. See also this official benchmark for an example where I/O transfer rates above 3.2 GiB/s are achieved on Linux with 4 threads working on a SSD drive. See this benchmark for another example of 5.4 GiB/s achieved with 4 threads on a virtual RAM drive (Linux tmpfs).
The performance gain that can be achieved thanks to parallel disk I/O can be spectacular. This allows working with huge images in PixInsight. For example, with one or two fast SSD drives configured for parallel swap file storage, you can work with a 32-bit RGB image of 12000×12000 pixels and perform undo/redo operations virtually in real time. Note that parallel disk access is at least as fast as RAID 0 storage, although much more flexible and much easier to configure and maintain.