Loading of cached XML data has been optimized a bit as well in SVN r5017. For me this saves between 15% and 20% of time spent on this job.

Overall I'm down to "less than 13 seconds" start-up time now with MAME SVN r23765 and all current dat-sources:

Code:
13:02:41.421: M.A.M.E. Catalog / Launcher II v0.40, SVN r5017 (Qt 4.8.4, SDLMAME, us)
13:02:41.422: Phonon features enabled - using Phonon v4.4.0
13:02:41.422: SDL joystick support enabled - using SDL v1.2.14
13:02:41.422: processing global emulator configuration
13:02:41.422: creating template configuration map
13:02:41.423: template info: emulator = SDLMAME, version = 0.149, format = 0.2.6
13:02:41.574: image cache size set to 128 MB
13:02:41.577: shortcut map is clean
13:02:41.578: joystick map is clean
13:02:41.622: SDLMAME output notifier FIFO created
13:02:41.774: loading game info DB
13:02:43.512: done (loading game info DB, elapsed time = 00:01.737)
13:02:43.513: 28257 game info records loaded
13:02:43.514: loading emulator info DB
13:02:44.875: done (loading emulator info DB, elapsed time = 00:01.361)
13:02:44.875: 8766 emulator info records loaded
13:02:44.876: loading software info DB
13:02:47.060: done (loading software info DB, elapsed time = 00:02.178)
13:02:47.064: 26886 software info records loaded
13:02:47.069: determining emulator version and supported sets
13:02:47.208: done (determining emulator version and supported sets, elapsed time = 00:00.137)
13:02:47.210: emulator info: type = MAME, version = 0.149
13:02:47.210: 28628 supported (non-device) sets
13:02:47.210: loading catver.ini
13:02:47.396: done (loading catver.ini, elapsed time = 00:00.186)
13:02:47.398: 28487 category / 28613 version records loaded
13:02:47.398: loading XML data from cache
13:02:49.639: done (loading XML data from cache, elapsed time = 00:02.241)
13:02:49.655: loading ROM state from cache
13:02:49.725: done (loading ROM state from cache, elapsed time = 00:00.070)
13:02:49.726: 28662 cached ROM states loaded
13:02:49.727: processing game list
13:02:49.729: loading game data from game list cache
13:02:49.733: pre-caching icons from ZIP archive
13:02:50.930: done (pre-caching icons from ZIP archive, elapsed time = 00:01.197)
13:02:50.930: 9932 icons loaded
13:02:52.295: done (loading game data from game list cache, elapsed time = 00:02.565)
13:02:53.663: sorting game list by game description in ascending order
13:02:54.202: restoring game selection
13:02:54.347: done (processing game list, elapsed time = 00:04.620)
13:02:54.347: 28561 games, 67 BIOS sets and 34 devices loaded
13:02:54.347: ROM state info: L:28662 C:25748 M:2911 I:2 N:1 U:0
13:02:54.350: loading favorites
13:02:54.355: done (loading favorites)
13:02:54.355: loading play history
13:02:54.355: done (loading play history)


A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work unless it's open. [Frank Zappa]