Background: In an effort to provide improved user experience and system reliability at a moderate cost, our department embarked on targeted upgrades of a total of 87 computers over a period of 3 years. Upgrades came in three forms: (i) replacement of the computer with newer architecture, (ii) replacement of the computer's hard drive with a solid-state drive (SSD), or (iii) replacement of the computer with newer architecture and a SSD. Methods: We measured the impact of each form of upgrade on a set of pathology-relevant tasks that fell into three categories: standard use, whole-slide navigation, and whole-slide analysis. We used time to completion of a task as the primary variable of interest. Results: We found that for most tasks, the SSD upgrade had a greater impact than the upgrade in architecture. This effect was especially prominent for whole-slide viewing, likely due to the way in which most whole-slide viewers cached image tiles. However, other tasks, such as whole-slide image analysis, often relied less on disk input or output and were instead more sensitive to the computer architecture. Conclusions: Based on our experience, we suggest that SSD upgrades are viewed in some settings as a viable alternative to complete computer replacement and recommend that computer replacements in a digital pathology setting are accompanied by an upgrade to SSDs.
- Solid-state drive
- Virtual slides
- Windows system image
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Health Informatics
- Computer Science Applications