The lucky-image-integration software AutoStakkert!2 has been around since early 2012, and considering I'm pretty close to a very much workable 64-bit version of AutoStakkert! with some cool new possibilities, I decided to up the big number and go for AutoStakkert!3, to be released 'pretty soon'. I have essentially stopped working on the 32-bit release altogether, and will focus fully on 64-bit (I will also slowly try to get away from a single platform program - but this will be a slow process with low priority*).
Don't worry; you shouldn't get lost in the interface - because nothing has really changed - and for most use-cases you'll probably not notice any significant differences. Behind the scenes, however, things have changed quite a bit. A 64-bit version opens up a lot of possibilities especially when working on large data sets. Working with GBs of 25 megapixel lunar data? Effectively using 30.000 alignment points at different scales? Not a problem!
AS!3 is not so much faster during aligning or stacking (it will be if the recording can not be buffered in the the 32-bit version), but if your computer has enough RAM to work with, it should now be considerably more difficult to crash the software**. Furthermore, there is a new quality estimator implemented (that will very likely be the new 'default' setting) which generally works better in the more difficult image areas (e.g. edges of planets or solar discs). It may not always give better results, but I have found it does indeed do a better job on most of the recordings I tried it on (Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Solar data). The same quality 'scale' setting can be used to tweak the estimator and make it less tune in on noise, and from what I can tell, it should use very similar values.
Furthermore, I tried to tackle those parts of processing that took most time for the typical larger sensor lunar and solar test images that I was using. I found out that especially MAP recombination can take a very long time when using 10.000 APs or more (44 seconds on my system for 9451APs on 4 megapixel input data). In the new version this only takes 2.3 seconds (on the exact same data). The total processing time was reduced significantly because of this. For smaller sensors (fewer APs) you essentially won't see this speedup
There is some stuff I want to do before the actual 'first' release of AS!3. I have about 100 'open' issues, most I can/will ignore, but some are interesting enough that I want to have a look. I expect the version to be available in the next two months or so; so you'll have to be patient. If you ask nicely though, I will be looking for some beta-testers soon. So if you like to test your - preferably large - recordings and at the same time help me out, please let me know.
* Also, every time a Mac user pops up and complains about there not being any Mac lucky-imaging software available, I will delay my efforts by at least two months (and one month extra for every 'please').
** Should. Not shall
p.s. AS!3 will remain free to use for non-commercial purposes.