Nuke is designed to perform very intensive calculations, being more optimised for image accuracy over fast image playback, so it will always take a while to process, however there are several ways to optimise workflows to gain some performance improvements.
Depending on your Nuke script, your hardware and other processes running on your system, some of the below methods should generally be tested to see if they improve your performance.
1) Read and write files to a fast local SSD, rather than a mechanical or network drive.
2) Reading and writing image sequences like .EXR or .DPX files rather than .mov or other video container formats.
3) Try changing different compression types, to find the best combination of file size, image quality and compression complexity for your project.
4) Increase the amount of VRAM Nuke can use. This can be done in Edit>Preferences...>Performance/Hardware, then adjust the GPU texture cache size to match the amount of VRAM in your system.
5) You can also use the GPUs to accelerate the Viewer and inputs when possible. This can be found in Edit>Preferences...>Panels/Viewer, then enable the use GPU for viewer when possible and use GPU for inputs when possible options.
6) Downrez your preview in the viewport, the option can be found in the top right of the Viewer panel, as shown below. The lower the ratio, then the lower the quality, but generally the faster it will render in the Viewer.
7) Precomping heavy sections of the Nuke script should help later nodes perform faster, but only do this when you are happy with that part of the Nuke script.
8) Upgrading to the latest version of Nuke should bring some speed and stability improvements.
9) Run multiple instances of Nuke when you are rendering. So each instance renders a different frame range into an image sequence. This sequence can then be read and exported into whatever final format you need. This should use more of your CPU power, and give you a quicker render.
10) Use the frame server when rendering, as it uses multiple instances of Nuke to render many frames at the same time, increasing system usage and decreasing render time. Information about how to use the frame server can be found in our documentation here: Rendering Using the Frame Server
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