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FreeSurfer System Requirements

Summary of Requirements:
Operating System: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows (via VirtualBox)
Processor Speed: 2GHz at least
RAM: 8GB recommended
Graphics card: 3D graphics card with its own graphics memory & accelerated OpenGL drivers
Size of installation package: 8.5GB
Typical size of a processed subject: 370MB
Tutorial dataset size: 18GB
Other requirements: Matlab (only needed to run FS-FAST, the fMRI analysis stream)

Freesurfer is available for the Linux and Mac OS X operating systems. It can also be used on Windows with VirtualBox (but runs a bit slower). The download page lists the supported platforms. Matlab is required to run the FS-FAST component of Freesurfer (but Matlab is not required to run the reconstruction utilities).

A 2GHz or faster processor, at least 4GB of RAM, and a 3D graphics card (with its own graphics memory) with accelerated OpenGL drivers, is recommended. Freesurfer is highly CPU and memory intensive (and moderately disk intensive), so concentrate on boosting those performance aspects (more memory is better...8GB is highly recommended!).

With the inclusion of new OpenMP-enabled code in freesurfer, multiple-cores can now be accessed by recon-all. This means you should also consider purchasing a multi-core machine if you intend to process multiple subjects at the same time. If you do this, be sure to purchase 4GB per subject, that is, if you would like to process four subjects at once, your machine must have four cores and 16GB of memory. The flag you would include with recon-all to do this is: -openmp 4 which tells it to use four cores (cpus) when the special parallelized code is run (ie. the 'gcareg' stage).

Most modern video graphics card will perform fine, but be aware that graphics cards that use CPU memory as video memory will have a noticeably slow redraw rate. NVidia graphics cards have been found to work best with freesurfer. While freesurfer includes some GPU support, it is not actively supported anymore, so purchasing a GPU card explicitly for freesurfer is not recommended, in lieu of purchasing multiple cores and using the OpenMP functionality (-openmp <num_threads> flag). A 19" (or greater!) monitor is also recommended.

If you're running Freesurfer on a server, then allocate 4GB of memory to your job.

Freesurfer requires about 8.5GB of disk space for the full installation, which includes the Freesurfer binaries, support libraries, the MINC toolkit, and sample MRI data.

The volume and surface data files produced by Freesurfer for a typical subject (assuming two structural MRI scans of source data) consume about 370MB of disk space. The full tutorial dataset is 18GB.

Mailing list notes regarding suggested specs for a Linux box: