64-bit makes my life 4 billion times better!

The Vipoir lab is always busy generating huge amounts of image data and we are constantly using very memory intensive applications. Now as you know, it is important for me as a scientist to keep up to date with the latest technologies that allow me to really get the most out of my applications. For this reason, we use Windows® XP Professional x64 in our lab. This is a version of Microsoft Windows that is designed especially for running memory and calculation intensive applications and processes much more efficiently – perfect for us. We use Volocity for Windows x64 (Volocity x64), a version of Volocity that has been developed to run on this 64-bit version of Windows, and it is fantastic.

So why do I get so excited about Volocity x64 I hear you say? Well, 64-bit Windows supports up to 128 GB RAM and 16 TB of virtual memory, 8 TB of which are available to Volocity. When I was using 32-bit Windows, I was limited to a maximum of 3 GB of virtual memory. Volocity x64 has dramatically raised the maximum data size that I can handle. I have noticed many advantages of using Volocity x64, all of which are thanks to the huge increase in virtual memory.

UltraVIEW 64-bit Live Cell Imaging

In my lab, we use our UltraVIEW VoX confocal imaging system which is powered by Volocity software. Volocity Acquisition is compatible with 64-bit Windows; however there has been no spinning disk system that can work with 64-bit Windows. Now though, I am jumping up and down with excitement as those clever people at Improvision have developed the world’s first 64-bit confocal spinning disk acquisition system!

Yes, the UltraVIEW VoX now comes with 64-bit acquisition and runs on Windows XP Professional x64. This means that, rather than acquiring all of our images with our UltraVIEW VoX on the Windows 32-bit platform, and then analysing and quantifying our data on the 64-bit platform, we now have a fully end to end 64-bit imaging system - the future of imaging! We already have computers with 64-bit processors running Windows XP Professional x64 Edition so we set the UltraVIEW up on one of those.  We double-checked the supported hardware list for each of the components of the system (http://www.improvision.com/support/tech_notes/detail.php?id=417) but it was pretty straight forward.  The PCI-Express Phoenix card, required for some of the Hamamatsu cameras available with the system is the only Phoenix card that is supported on Windows XP x64 Edition so a system that uses any other version of the card will need a new one.  Serial port adapters are another common component of such systems and we had to change ours because there were no drivers available for 64-bit.

Let me give you some examples of how this fully 64-bit solution will benefit my routine imaging experiments.

Firstly, and most importantly for my lab, the UltraVIEW VoX with Volocity 64-bit acquisition boosts the maximum size of a single time-point that can be acquired, and is limited only by the amount of free disk space that I have – great news considering the challenging size of the data sets that are generated by our group. Using my newly 64-bit compatible UltraVIEW VoX, I recently generated a data set of dimensions 998 x 824 x 101, with 106 timepoints very easily, and it was 24.6 GB. Watch my first experiment with the fully end-to-end 64-bit solution.

I can use 64-bit Volocity Restoration to deconvolve larger data sets, and with Volocity Visualization, the size and complexity of the data sets which I can render is greatly increased. I can also render a larger numbers of time points without exceeding the virtual memory of the operating system.

Using 64-bit Volocity also means that I can apply more complex measurement protocols and measure much greater data sets with Volocity quantitation. In fact I have been reliably informed by my colleagues that 64-bit Volocity is up to 36 % faster at memory and calculation intensive operations than Volocity running in the 32-bit environment on the same hardware.

In addition to all this, I can also now work all the way from acquisition to publication on one machine. This is faster and much easier for me and will hopefully make me super-productive.

By the way, when I run Volocity on 64-bit Windows it looks and feels exactly the same as if I was running Volocity on 32-bit Windows so I did not have to learn how to use any new software when I upgraded. The installer for the 64-bit version of Volocity can be found on the “downloads” page of the Improvision website (http://www.improvision.com/downloads/) and as I had a valid SMA I could download and run this version free of charge - just one of many reasons why I like to keep my SMAs up to date.