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Which pdf reader/viewer supports more than one core to render and search through pdf files?

  • evince does not
  • okular does not
  • Adobe Reader does not
  • Xpdf crashes on all my tested pdf documents (scientific papers and presentations) ⇒ does not
  • epdfview is unbearable slow and only uses one core ⇒ does not
  • qpdfview does not
  • inkscape does not

If none in the entire universe does (use more than one CPU core), why not?

I mean: Is there an intrinsic reason, why pdf documents can’t be rendered in parallel?

I am on a linux machine. Should I use Windows or Mac OS or whatever to find a multi-core pdf-viewer?

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We cannot predict the reason Adobe and company does not write a multi-threaded pdf viewer. Its likely is the same reason that Word is for the most part a single threaded application also. What problem are you trying to solve by looking for a multi-threaded pdf viewer? –  Ramhound Sep 24 '13 at 13:46
    
I am trying to get a faster pdf viewer. Adobe Reader seems to be faster on most PDF documents. But it still uses only one of four cores, which makes me think it could be faster. When scrolling through large documents, it takes to long for the new pages to be loaded. –  erik Sep 24 '13 at 13:52
    
I can tell you that Scrolling isn't going to be a multi-threaded operation even if the viewer supports multi-threaded. Reading through the contents of a single file does not lead to an operation that can be split among several threads. –  Ramhound Sep 24 '13 at 14:44
    
As stated in my answer below: The time loading the document could be speeded up (and is already, but not yet in my distro). If the pages are cached, then scrolling would be much faster. –  erik Sep 24 '13 at 15:02
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1 Answer

Well, I don’t know about Adobe. But the free software viewers use Poppler to render and display pdf files.

I have just found this bug report (which was fixed after half a year) about thread safety. That means: From January 2013 on the viewers should be able to render multiple pages at a time (if implemented in the viewer, poppler now does support this). Rendering of all pages one a dual core machine only takes 58% of the time a single core machine would need.

The second bug report is about multi-threaded rendering of each page. This second bug is still open and not accepted or worked on. If this second “bug” would be fixed, then rendering would become even faster. Especially for complex documents with few pages or if you don’t want to wait long for the first page to be displayed.

For very complex single paged documents I tried to use Inkscape. But as of this bug report from 2008, Inkscape is now (since 2012) using multiple threads for rendering filters. But not yet for the rest of the application, e.g. zooming in and out. Inkscape uses — like Poppler does — Cairo for rendering. That means until Cairo isn’t multi-threading capable, the per-page-rendering wont speed up using multiple threads separated over many cores.

In January 2013 someone started working on this (cairo multi-threaded image rendering).


About Adobe: Lets see who is faster in releasing the multi-threaded viewers.

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Acrobat is multi-threaded just not in the context of using multiple threads for scrolling through the document. If you were to process multiple files through a batch operation it would attempt to process as many file at once. A bug reported in June 2012 isn't going to be fixed. –  Ramhound Sep 24 '13 at 15:24
    
@Ramhound: A bug reported in 2008 (the one for Inkscape) was partially resolved in 2012. It is open source software. Anyone willing to dig into this can solve it anytime after the bug report or even without a bug report. ;-) –  erik Sep 25 '13 at 5:50
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