I am trying to load anywhere from 5 to 10 LiDAR TINS into ArcScene. I am using ArcGIS Desktop Evaluation (student) 9.3.1. I just built a new computer with a AMD Phenom II X6 1090T six core processor, 8GB of ram, and a GeForce GTX 470 video card.

When I load the data into arcscene I also open up my system resource monitor. It's only using about 20% of the CPU and less than 2 GB of ram (out of the 8). The program never seems to go over those numbers even with using tools.

I've tried adding to the virtual memory, but that hasn't changed anything, it still runs slow. As far as I know all my drivers/Windows are up to date.

Are there limitations on amounts of data that can be opened in ArcScene? Is there a way to make this work super fast, as was the plan when I put this computer together?

  • A bit more info would be helpful, such as the TIN file sizes, actual amount of virtual memory, and what is slow (slow to render, slow to navigate and redraw, etc)
    – wwnick
    Aug 14 '10 at 16:37
  • Perhaps you can ask a new question about effective means to visualize this data, as it seems that ArcScene is insufficient.
    – scw
    Aug 14 '10 at 20:51

There's a distinct possibility that ArcScene is running up against the default Win32 process limit of 2GB. Originally, due to this limitation, ESRI was designing their 3D products to max out at around 20 million points.

Update: ESRI support note on the TIN size limitation (~15 million, dated 2008)

  • 1
    OK, I'd like to add that each TIN is anywhere from 65-90 MB in size. My virtual memory is at 16 GB over 2 internal HDD. Rendering is OK for the first 4 or so tiles, but then they show up as tiles with outlines and no surface. Navigating is slow and choppy.
    – Ryan Mendieta
    Aug 14 '10 at 19:24
  • Glennon, thanks for your comment. That is what I believe is happening but my searches haven't really shown anything to prove that. I'm not really sure what to do, or even if it can be addressed. I think our geography department will be getting Arc10 but I'm not sure if that will make anything better.
    – Ryan Mendieta
    Aug 14 '10 at 19:27
  • ArcGIS 10 will run happily on 64-bit machines, but it's a combination of 32 and 64 bit components. ESRI has not updated their support sites to clarify the subtleties. I know they are working to bolster data handling for huge LIDAR datasets. Given conversations I've had with their engineers, my personal opinion is that such functionality will be delivered in the timeframe of 12-24 months.
    – glennon
    Aug 14 '10 at 20:14

I'm going to guess that the "around 20%" where your CPU utilization is maxing out is really 16% ... because you may only be actually using one of the six cores. ArcScene may not be able to effectively utilize more than one core at a time for a single session.

ArcScene just may not be the right tool, depending on what it is you're trying to do. If you really need to process all that data at once, QT Modeler might be a better choice. (As someone suggested, to explore that angle you should probably post a new question.) Or maybe you don't need all of it at once, either divide it up geographically or resample it.


Convert your TIN's to Rasters. Then you can alter the resolution in ArcScene.

ArcScene is without a doubt the worst LiDAR Viewer. Just FYI.

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