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max Scatter points?

Greg Pasternack

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What is the maximum number of scatter points that can be imported into SMS- either in terms of point numbers or maximum file size or both?

Is it possible to get around that by importing chunks of points as separate files and then merging them together in SMS?


Hi Greg,

The number of scatter points that are available in SMS is determined by the amount of RAM that your operating system will use. For a 32-bit windows operating system, a single process is limited to access 3 GB of memory. It is difficult to say how many scatter points will reach that limit because it is affected by other pieces of data in SMS. If nothing else is loaded, I think the limit is in the neighborhood of 5 million but it might be lower.

We hope to offer a 64-bit executable down the road but this has been difficult to accomplish largely due to code libraries that we rely on. A 64-bit windows operating system has a much higher limit of RAM that a process can access (at the same time many data structures grow). This means that the amount of memory you use grows (maybe by 1/3 depending upon how the data is stored), but you can access far more. Up to 8 TB by my reading of the article below.


Your best option is to:

1. Use the import wizard tools to only bring in a portion of the data generally divided up by area (bounding box). Second step of the import wizard choose the filter options button.

2. Filter the scatter set using the filter tool in SMS. Scatter module choose Data | Filter.

3. Save the filtered data to an sms file.

4. Delete the scatter set.

4. Repeat steps 1-4 for different areas until all of the points you are interested in have been filtered.

5. Load each of the files and merge them into a single scatter set. The best way to do this might be to start with the first scatterset, load another file, merge it into the merged scatter set, delete it, and repeat. This makes it so you only have to have the merged scatterset and one other scatterset in SMS at the same time.

6. If the total number of points is still to large, you may have to filter the individual scattersets further.

I hope this helps. We hope to make this process unnecessary or easier in the future.

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  • 8 months later...


We recently discovered that if you do not triangulate the scatter set when importing it you can bring in larger scatter sets. There is a check box in the import wizard to triangulate that you uncheck. You can then triangulate the scatter set once the points are read in. We are working to resolve this issue.

- John

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Rusty,

I am using SMS 10.1 (32 bit), my computer has a RAM of 3,25 GB and I have a very refined set of points (with around 26 millions of points). I am trying to import that set of points into SMS to build a mesh, but I can´t. Do you have any improvements in the software that allow me to do that or do I have to follow all the steps you mentioned before to solve the problem? Do I need the 64-bit version of SMS?



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As far as I know, in order to import 26 million points you will most likely have to follow the steps outlined above. The limit to the number of points that can be imported is determined in part by how much memory the 32-bit operating system can access. Your computer might not be able to access the full 3 GB of memory because some of your 3.25 GB is needed for your operating system. You could try SMS 64-bit which has the possibility/capability of accessing more memory but, SMS 64-bit must be run on a 64-bit operating system. Also, in order to access more memory you must have more memory available.


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