What are SuperSpeed & SuperCache for Dragon
SuperSpeed and SuperCache will dramatically speed
up Dragon NaturallySpeaking's performance by means of SuperSpeed's
patented virtual disk and disk caching technology. This software,
sometimes referred to as "RamDisk" software, frees Dragon
and other disk intensive applications to operate at high memory
speeds by placing program and application code in RAM.
While system processor and memory speeds have continued to increase
performance is still constrained by slow disk and I/O speeds. SuperSpeed
and SuperCache appear to the application as standard hard disk drives,
yet operate 100 times faster. Similar to automobile manufacturers
who compensated for sluggish engine performance by installing TurboChargers,
SuperSpeed and SuperCache will TurboCharge your Dragon NaturallySpeaking
How do they work, and how are they different? SuperSpeed
reads data from main memory at maximum speed. With SuperCache there
is a chance that the requested data will not be in the cache pool
stored in main memory. Therefore, SuperSpeed will always be faster
than SuperCache accessing data sets that fit in memory. For data
sets and disk partitions that extend beyond RAM boundaries, SuperCache
will offer a higher performance solution.
(see more detailed descriptions below to determine which product
is right for your system)
Operational Challenges Posed by Dragon NaturallySpeaking
NaturallySpeaking Professional/Med/Legal places a tremendous burden
on system resources due to the size of the program code and user
vocabulary. The need to continually access this data as dictation
is taking place, from a hard drive that is significantly slower
then processor speeds, can result in overall performance degradation.
Recognition accuracy, productivity, audio responsiveness, and command
and control execution can be severely compromised as a result of
system latencies and I/O bottlenecks.
Furthermore, as a result of program enhancements incorporated in
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 7.0,
such as the Acoustic and Vocabulary Optimizers, greater stress will
be placed upon system resources
to execute these program features concurrently with dictation and
command and control. Unlike
all previous versions of Dragon's professional series, version 7.0
continually writes optimizer files to disc in preparation for periodic
optimization tune-ups. In fact, in significant usage since its release,
the Accudata engineering staff has experienced optimization files
in excess of 300MB. Again, these files are being written to disc
continually and concurrently during each dictation session.
Consequently, Dragon NaturallySpeaking is not only accessing its
relevant data with disk reads, but
to satisfy the needs of the optimization process, it is also writing
significant data to disk at the same time. Given the fact that even
at 8ms. hard disk drives are operating 160,000 times slower than
processor and memory speeds, this huge disparity can only result
in performance degradation, inefficiencies, and unresponsiveness.
SuperSpeed to the Rescue
SuperSpeed and SuperCache provide Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional
an operating environment that virtually eliminates the bottlenecks
and latencies caused by sub-performing PC components. Both of these
products also provide a measure of safety by employing proprietary
"write to disk" data protection. The net result is
blazing speed and performance without compromising data security
Once installed, SuperSpeed and SuperCache are completely transparent
to all user and system applications. The only difference users will
notice is the increased speed and responsiveness of Dragon NaturallySpeaking
Professional and other disk intensive applications. No further action
by the system manager is required to obtain Super Performance automatically.
SuperSpeed & Dragon NaturallySpeaking professional
SuperSpeed upon boot up, copies an entire disk drive
partition into RAM. All applications and data that reside on that
partition will now execute completely from RAM. The hard drive partition
from which this mirror image was created, serves as a backing disk.
This is known as "persistent disk". Throughout the entire
computing session, this relationship between the hard disk partition
and its mirror image residing in RAM is maintained. Unlike pure
RamDisk, which maintains no disk drive relationship, the SuperSpeed
disk drive partition can be configured to continually write to disk
at predetermined, yet safe intervals. SuperSpeed's proprietary device
drivers are designed to handle these disk writes efficiently with
no system degradation.
Because SuperSpeed creates a complete mirror image
of a hard disk partition, adequate RAM is required to compensate
for the size of this hard drive partition as well as the demands
of the operating system and program applications. On a typical Windows
2000 or Windows XP system, running Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional,
RAM requirements would be no less than 1GB and ideally 1.5GB. Typically,
a single dictator using Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional will
require hard disk partition space of approximately 800MB. (Consult
with your Dragon dealer for additional information on this requirement.)
Given the presence of adequate RAM, SuperSpeed
is unquestionably the most efficient way to run Dragon NaturallySpeaking
Professional. During Accudata System's rigorous testing of this
software over a two month period of time, Dragon 7.0 performed with
speed, efficiency, and responsiveness. At no time, even with a substantial
interval of time between audio input, did Dragon not respond acoustically
to speech input stimulus.
Certified by Microsoft, SuperSpeed is available for
the Windows NT, 2000, XP operating systems.
SuperCache & Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional
Unlike SuperSpeed, SuperCache does not create a mirror
image of an entire hard disk partition. Rather, using its patented
and award winning proprietary caching schematic, SuperCache stores
frequently accessed data in RAM. The size of this cache pool is
user configurable. One or more hard disk partitions can be cached,
and statistical benchmarks have demonstrated that SuperCache is
about 98% as efficient as SuperSpeed. Additionally, collateral benefits
of overall system performance affect all concurrent running applications.
What makes SuperCache so special is that it employs
a block caching technique. Rather than cache an entire file (when
your system might be calling for only a portion of that file) which
can contribute to system inefficiencies, SuperCache will only cache
that portion of the file for which historical demand has been created.
Within about 20 minutes after boot up, SuperCache will establish
a cache pool of frequently accessed data thereby eliminating the
need for incessant disk reads. And, similar to SuperSpeed, data
written to disk is completely protected.
Installing SuperCache is completely straightforward
and will not require the need to restructure your hard drive to
split off a separate hard drive partition. However since caching
the entire hard drive partition is SuperCache's operational standard,
it is highly recommended that only your critical transactional data
and programs reside on the cached partition.
SuperCache requires Windows NT 4.0, 2000, and soon
Similar to SuperSpeed as it is documented above, the
engineering staff at Accudata Systems experienced dramatically improved
system performance running Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional
7.0 with SuperCache. To conduct this test, a separate partition
of 2GB was created on which Dragon NaturallySpeaking 6.0 and 7.0
were installed. SuperCache was then configured to cache this partition
only. Dragon NaturallySpeaking was configured to load into the systray
upon boot up. In the option settings, the "most accurate"
slider bar was set to give Dragon NaturallySpeaking greater recognition
accuracy. None of the options that ScanSoft recommends be turned
off to maximize system performance were in fact turned off. Consequently,
we chose to test the system where the demand load on system resources
would be the greatest.
Test Setup Parameters
The CPU used for testing purposes had the following
- Intel Pentium 4 processor, 1.7 Ghz
- 768MB RAMBUS DRAM
- IBM Hard drive@5400 rpms
- Windows 2000 Professional
- Applications running concurrently:Opt!® Professional Contact
Manager, Microsoft Word, Dreamweaver, Microsoft Image composer,
Adobe Photoshop, P.C. Paint, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express,
and Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional 7.0.
- SuperCache2000 Pro configuration: 128MB dedicated to cache,
8KB page size. (See graphic)
- Task Manager Reports: 330MB of available physical RAM.
- NT caching: turned off.
In order to conduct a controlled test, we elected to run Dragon's
Acoustic Optimizer with SuperCache enabled and then subsequently
disabled. Testing was conducted on a number of passes using the
exact file configuration that existed for pass 1.
Although ScanSoft recommends that users run the Acoustic Optimizer
at a time when their computer is idle because of the system resource
demands, Accudata Systems experienced a 30% reduction in time required
to complete this process. Conducting a number of controlled tests
with approximately 300MB of stored acoustical data and SuperCache
enabled, the length of time required to run the Acoustic Optimizer
was reduced from 18 minutes to11 minutes.
Dragon's overall responsiveness to acoustical input
stimuli, was never compromised during the entire testing process.
During the actual testing there were no discernible system latencies,
with both dictation and command-and-control executing flawlessly
and instantaneously. Since the introduction of Dragon Ver. 5.0 up
through the current version, system responsiveness can, under certain
circumstances, be compromised only because the demand upon system
resources by Dragon is significantly greater than most other applications.
This phenomenon is, by no stretch of the imagination, a program
flaw or anomaly, rather simply a function of resource supply and
demand. Witnessed in the graphic below is the efficiency with which
Dragon Pro 7.0 operates using SuperCache. You will note that the
blue bar graph charts the statistical calls upon the cache pool
for vocabulary data during an actual dictation session. At the very
beginning of this dictation session, there was an equal preponderance
of disk data reads as evidenced by a higher spiking of green. This
chart represents the dictation session after approximately 20 minutes,
demonstrating a dramatic reduction in disk reads and a breathtaking
escalation in cache hits. At this point in the dictation session,
Dragon is operating, almost exclusively in a RamDisk environment.