That's a tough question to answer without knowing a few more variables.
- Is it OK if you run the machine to the rails -- or do you have to share processing HP with other users (human or nobodies)?
- Is this a one off -- or are you going to have to this weekly/monthly?
Jumping ahead to a solution, I would probably slice the monster file into pieces (lots of ways to do that) then process a couple of pieces in paralell. The way I would test that would be to take a 1G slice of the file and pretend that's the big file, and try various different piece counts.
Failing that, write a program in C (something I've done many times) to suck the file in, 64K chunks at a time (or whatever size chunks your system can manage), then process the lines individually. The processed lines go into a 64K buffer, and when it gets full, you write it to the output file. Piece of cake. :) And you should get great performance doing it in C, better than Perl.
"Nyahhh (munch, munch) What's up, Doc?" --Bugs Bunny
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