Version 6 of Plaque Simulator (PS6) is designed for relatively recent (2013 models or later) Apple Macintosh computers with Apple silicon M-series and/or Intel Xeon, Core i5, i7 or i9 multicore x86 processors that can install OSX version 10.12 or greater.
As of March 2022, Eye Physics recommends running PS6 on the fastest M series processor Apple desktop computer that you can afford with at least 8 processor cores, >= 16 GB of RAM and MacOSX 11 (Big Sur) or 12 (Monterey). Support for MacOS 10.13 (High Sierra) requires PS6 version 6.6.1 or later and MacOS 10.14 (Mojave) requires PS6 version 6.6.7 or later. Support for MacOS 11 (Big Sur) on Intel cpus requires PS6 version 6.7.7.
Apple silicon M series system on chip (SoC) models are faster and far more energy efficient than models that use Intel processors and M series models are very highly recommended. However, because SoC copmuters are not upgradeable, be sure to order as powerful a version as you can possibly afford with an absolute minimum of 16 GB RAM.
In 2022, Intel Xeon and Core i series processors should be considered as obsolete. They consume far more energy than Apple silicon processors, run very hot resulting in thermal throttling and deliver poor battery life in laptops. Some Intel CPUs are hyper-threaded which means that for each processor core that is physically present, the operating system addresses two virtual or logical cores, and shares the workload between them when possible. The Intel Core i5 and later generation i7 processors found in many older iMacs and Mac laptops have less cache and are not hyper-threaded. PS6 will run on the Core i5 processor but dosimetry performance will be slower than on an i7 or i9. Find a computer with as many cores (>= 6) and threads as you can afford.
Plaque Simulator version 6.2 and later leverages multicore processors when performing all 2D, 3D and histogram dosimetry calculations. For instance, when running on a hyper-threaded 4 core Xeon processor, PS6 distributed its dosimetry calculations uniformly and concurrently amongst 8 logical cores, resulting in a 5X acceleration compared to running on a single logical core. The acceleration factor is about 7X on a 6 core processor and at ≥12X on a 12 core processor. Performance per core is much better on Apple silicon SoCs.
Eye Physics recommends running PS6 on the fastest multicore processor that your institution can afford in order to achieve the best overall user experience possible. For any given processor speed, increasing the number of cores will proportionally increase the speed of multidimensional dosimetry calculations, resulting in more rapid image reconstruction, isodose line, isodose surface and dose histogram comparisons of alternative plan options. OSX leverages the GPUs on the video card to accelerate some graphics and many features of the operating system, so choosing the most powerful video capability offered at the time of purchase is also desireable.
The software development systems as of March 2022 include a 2021 M1 Mac Mini with 16GB RAM and 1 TB SSD running Mac OS12 (Monterey) and a 2019 Mac Pro desktop tower running MacOS 11.6.3 (Big Sur). The Mac Pro is configured with a 4 GHz, 16 core Xeon W processor, AMD Radeon Pro Vega II 32 GB graphics card, 96 GB RAM, 4TB secure boot SSD, a pair of secure 2TB WD Black SN750 MVNe M2 SSDs on a dual PCIe adapter for fast image and patient file storage, 4 TB of SSDs configured in RAID0 on a PCIe adapter for fast scratch storage, a pair of internally mounted 14TB Seagate Barracuda Pro spinning hard drives for archival storage, 25 TB of external Thunderbolt3 connected RAID5 DAS storage, and 32 TB of privately managed Synology and WD MyCloud NAS servers. Peripherals include a USB3 connected optical DVD/CD drive for loading CT images from disc, a trio of Dell 30" ultrasharp UP3017 display monitors, an Epson 4870 Photo flatbed scanner with VueScan software, an HP Color LaserJet Pro M254dw printer, a Logitech 4K Pro Webcam for online teaching and meetings, a Yeti Nano USB3 microphone and various USB and analog connected speaker systems. The Eye Physics office has a 1 Gbps symmetric (upload and download) fiber-optic internet connection.
For training, video production, 3D printing and as backup treatment planning systems, Eye Physics uses several 2009 and 2010 Mac Pros desktop computers which have been upgraded from their stock configuration to firmware MacPro5,1 and a pair of 3.46 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon processors (total 12 physical cores, 24 logical cores), an 802.11ac+Bluetooth_4 mini PCIe card, a Sapphire Radeon Nitro+ RX 580 8GB GDDR5 Dual HDMI / DVI-D / Dual DP w/ Backplate Special Edition (UEFI) PCI-E Graphic Card 11265-21-20G. This card works fine for dual 30 inch monitors and MacOS 10.14 or greater, and can be flashed for MacOS booting. An inexpensive dual 6-pin to single 8-pin power adapter is required. These older Mac Pro systems also incorporate 4 port USB3 PCI cards, Samsung 970 EVO plus NVMe M2 SSDs on PCIe adapter cards as fast boot drives, Samsung 860 SSD drives mounted on a PCI SATA3 adapter cards for intermediate speed storage, 4 WD Black series 6TB spinning hard disks for archival storage, a DVD-RW optical drive, and 96 GB RAM running under MacOS 10.15.5 (Catalina). All of the Mac Pro 5,1 upgrade components are available on ebay and/or from various other internet vendors.
Example of 2022 entry level Mac Studio computer and the optional 27" Studio Display
Example of a 2022 Dell 34" WQHD display to use with Mac Studio or Mini desktop or as additional screen to use with a laptop.
To get the most from Plaque Simulator you will want to do image based planning. Eye Physics uses the following well known 3rd party software solutions to prepare CT, MR, ultrasound and fundus images for export to Plaque Simulator.