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Cadalyst Systems Benchmark, Part 3: The Compare Option

August 30, 2011 1 comment

Previously, we discussed the meaning behind the various index scores reported by the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark. Next, we talked about operating the benchmark. In this, part 3 of our blog, we finish discussing the operation of the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark.

Compare Option

The final choice of the benchmark’s initial dialog box enables the compare option, which lets you save and compare times for different test runs. This is a powerful tool that we added to C2008 v5.1 to help us develop new tests for the benchmark itself. You can use it to easily see the effects (if any) for alternate configurations of your workstation. This option is disabled by default.

Compare Option

Compare Option

Compare Options Menu

You have six choices here. The first three concern the operation of the compare function: Save Current Test Times for Later Comparison, then EXIT; Compare Current Test Times to Previous Test Times; and Save Current Test Times and Compare to Previous Test Times.

Compare Options Menu

Compare Options Menu

The compare function lets you compare the times from two different test runs, creating a new set of relative index numbers. It calculates the index numbers based on the ratio of the test times from the first selected file compared to the test times of the second selected file. If nothing has changed and the two different test times are virtually identical, the new calculated index is approximately 1.00. Where something has changed, the new index number clearly shows the relative improvement. For example, an index number of 1.50 indicates that performance has improved by 50%. This is a handy method for directly quantifying the benefits of, say, using a RAID 0 configuration for your hard drives.

The fourth choice, Just Exit C2012, simply aborts the compare option. The last two choices deal with help dialog boxes: Enable Informational Alert Boxes and Disable Informational Alert Boxes—the default setting.

Informational Alert Boxes

If enabled, informational alert dialog boxes popup (using AutoLISP’s alert message function) to provide contextual help when saving and comparing different test results. These dialogs, one for each of the three compare options, guide you through the process of using the compare function until you are ready to disable them.

Save and Compare Inforrmational Alert Box

Save and Compare Inforrmational Alert Box

One More Option

There is a hidden option (disabled by default) that appends the actual times for each individual test, in seconds, to the end of the C2012_data.dta file. To enable this option, you must edit the C2012_indx.lsp file. You can edit this text file using Windows’ WordPad utility. To enable the option, just remove the two semicolons at the beginning of the line located near the end of the file, which reads: ;;(load “times”).

(Note: The AutoLISP interpreter ignores any code on a line after a semicolon.)

Enable Hidden Option with text

Enable Hidden Option with Text

This wraps up our blog on the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark. We hope it helps you to evaluate and compare the performance of different workstations running AutoCAD.

Author: Art Liddle

Cadalyst Systems Benchmark, Part 2: Download, Installation and Operation

August 25, 2011 2 comments

Previously, we discussed the meaning behind the various index scores reported by the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark. Here, we will talk about operating the benchmark. For our discussion, we will use the latest version of the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark, C2012 v5.4, which was recently released.

The Readme_C2012.txt file (included in the Zip file available for download) gives instructions for installing the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark. They are straightforward, so we will not repeat them here.

The initial dialog box for the C2012 benchmark offers several radio-button options for customizing the test, as well as edit boxes for recording selected information about your workstation configuration. We will discuss each item in order, working our way down from the top of the dialog box.

Record Current System Configuration

This collection of six edit boxes prompts you for key information about your system’s configuration. We strongly suggest that you take full advantage of this section; record as much data as you can at the time of the test—up to a maximum of 132 characters per edit box. This information will make your life easier when you are pouring over the test data later. The benchmark stores your responses in the C2012_data.dta file, using them as defaults the next time you run the test. (If it hasn’t changed, you don’t need to retype information for each test.) The last edit box (Remarks) lets you record general notes to yourself. The benchmark automatically determines and records the following information: AutoCAD version, graphics window size in pixels, and the current date and time.

Record Current System Configuration

Record Current System Configuration

Test Functions

This is where you choose which type of test to run: 3D/2D/Other Functions (the only option that includes the Total Index score), 2D/Other Functions, or 3D Functions Only. Depending upon the type of work you do with AutoCAD, you can save yourself a lot of time by choosing either of the latter two options. In addition, if you do not have at least a midrange 3D graphics card, skip the 3D test—it can take several hours to run with a low-end card.

Test Functions

Test Functions

Number of Test Loops

For our reviews, we typically choose to run three loops of the test; the benchmark automatically calculates and reports average scores and times. For the record, we have found that the scores from a single run of the test closely match the average scores from three iterations. New to the C2012 version: We added a Battery Rundown Test option, which runs 99 loops. As the name indicates, we use this option for measuring the battery performance of mobile workstations.

Number of Test Loops

Number of Test Loops

Next time, in part 3 of our series, we will discuss the Compare Option. Originally added to the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark strictly for our internal use, it proved to be so handy, we enabled it for everyone.

Author: Art Liddle

Find the Optimal Hardware Configuration for ArchiCAD

August 23, 2011 5 comments

One of the most common questions our tech staff gets from customers is “What is the best hardware config for ArchiCAD?” It’s easy to go overboard and buy the most expensive of everything, but many times less expensive components are almost just as good. The “optimal” configuration is almost as fast as the “best” configuration, with a more attractive price tag.

Let’s review the priorities:

CPU

The processor is still the most important component of your config. Since ArchiCAD supports multiprocessing, we recommend 4-core processors. 6 and 8 cores are significantly more expensive while providing little benefit, so 4-core is the most optimal choice. Pick something from the middle range — prices rise exponentially with performance.

RAM

ArchiCAD supports 64-bit. To see the benefits of this, you need at least 8GB of physical RAM. While most of the times ArchiCAD will use significantly less than this, since RAM is now cheap there is really no reason to economize here. There are times when you will run multiple copies of ArchiCAD or run other applications simultaneously.

Hard Drives

ArchiCAD stores cached data while it operates, so there is a lot of file I/O going on while working in ArchiCAD — not just when saving files. Therefore hard drives are a key — and often overlooked — speed factor. With the price of solid state drives coming down considerably in the past year, they might be a sensible investment. You don’t need a huge SSD. You are better off with a smaller (say 128GB) SSD combined with a large conventional hard drive. You will install the system and ArchiCAD on the SSD, but you will store files on the conventional drive.

Video Cards

ArchiCAD uses hardware acceleration in both 2D and 3D. That said, while the importance of hard drives is often underrated, video cards are often overrated. In general we can say that it is more important to have a recent video card than a particularly high-end video card. It’s not a bad practice to replace the video card at the half of your computer’s lifespan.

When you buy a new card, it’s important to have enough video RAM. We currently recommend 1GB. Drivers are key for optimal performance. If you want to have a peace of mind about drivers, you might consider going with a “professional series” video card — at a much heftier price. You can find a list of recommended cards in our knowledge base.

Monitors

Screen real estate is a huge productivity factor. Here we have only one recommendation: The bigger the better. You can also hook up two monitors, if your video card supports that.

Author: Gergely (Greg) Kmethy, Team Leader, Technical Support, Graphisoft

New Benchmark Test Available for Systems Running Autodesk 3ds Max 2011

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

3ds max 2011 BenchmarkSPEC’s Application Performance Characterization (SPECapc) group has released the long-awaited new benchmark test for evaluating the performance of systems running Autodesk 3ds Max 2011. Launched last month, the updated test is available in professional ($495) and personal ($20) versions.

The SPECapc for 3ds Max 2011 benchmark is valuable for IT professionals, CAD managers and users, or others who want to evaluate the performance of new desktop or mobile computers running Autodesk 3ds Max 2011, gauge the impact of a hardware upgrade, or compare the performance of one system to another.

New features in SPECapc for 3ds Max 2011 include:

  • updated tests based on new functionality in 3ds Max 2011;
  • an improved user interface that makes it easier to configure and run tests;
  • increased level of testing for shading and rendering in the pro version, including use of the Autodesk Quicksilver engine for accelerated CPU and GPU rendering; and
  • automated benchmark results compilation in the pro version.

Click here for more information!

Cadalyst Systems Benchmark, Part 1: Evaluate and Compare Workstations Running AutoCAD

August 16, 2011 3 comments

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary lists one definition for benchmark as: a standardized problem or test that serves as a basis for evaluation or comparison.

The Cadalyst Systems Benchmark is designed to help you evaluate and compare the performance of workstations running AutoCAD. Comparing the performance scores between workstations (or different configurations) will help you make intelligent choices when purchasing a new computer or upgrading an existing one.

The Cadalyst Systems Benchmark reports a total index score and four component index scores keyed to specific performance areas, as well as individual numbers for each subroutine of the test. Note: the index numbers are simply a ratio of the base time for an operation compared to the current test time for an operation. Larger index numbers indicate better performance.

Total Index: This is an average of the four component indexes: It gives a quick look at the overall performance for a workstation. The Total Index score is the number we focus on for our reviews, but you can dig a little deeper for additional performance information relevant to your specific requirements.

3D Graphics Index: This is closely tied to a workstation’s graphics card. Depending on the rendering mode you typically use when working with 3D models in AutoCAD, you may want to focus on just one of the 3D graphics subcategories: Wireframe, Hidden, Conceptual, and Realistic. If you don’t work with 3D models, you can safely ignore this index all together.

2D Graphics Index: This measures more than just 2D graphics performance: It effectively measures all onscreen performance that does not involve rendering a 3D model. This component of the test creates, copies, blocks, moves, arrays, changes layers, changes colors, explodes, and erases three different types of objects: orthogonal lines, radial polylines, and text. Zoom and Pan commands are sprinkled throughout each test. Don’t pay any attention to the individual subcategories for this one, what matters is the total score.

Disk Index: This measures a workstation’s performance for reading and writing files to the hard drive. Most of the drives on the market today provide similar performance. What will make a big difference is having a pair of drives in a RAID 0 configuration. For RAID 0, file operations are simultaneously split between the two drives, nearly doubling performance.

CPU Index: This gauges the performance of the central processing unit at the heart of each workstation. It has proven to be an accurate measure of relative performance, especially with the turbo-mode of the new generation CPUs.

Cadalyst Systems Benchmark Results Page

Cadalyst Systems Benchmark Results Page

Next time, we’ll discuss the operation of the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark in some detail.

Author: Art Liddle

TwitterChat Archive: SolidWorks Optimization with Josh Mings, SolidSmack

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

SolidWorks Optimization with Josh Mings

by cadalyst_mag

Dell- and Cadalyst-Sponsored TwitterChat abput optimizing your system for SolidWorks.
RT @DellEnterprise: Live #CAD chat! Join Dell, @Cadalyst_Mag, & @SolidSmack at #DellCAD, Thursday 4pm East. Info- http://del.ly/6019Rzi5

Robinson11976


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July 28, 2011

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RT @Cadalyst_Mag: Using #SolidWorks? Join our @SolidSmack TwitterChat today 3pm CST #dellcad http://t.co/3juQzy1

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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RT @SolidSmack: RT @Cadalyst_Mag: Using #SolidWorks? Join our @SolidSmack TwitterChat today 3pm CST #dellcad http://t.co/3juQzy1

bcbenton


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July 28, 2011

bcbenton imgimg
Do you use SolidWorks? Join our chat with @SolidSmack & @Cadalyst_Mag that starts –in just 3 hours– using #DellCAD http://del.ly/6012RzUe

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

DellSMBnews imgimg
RT @DellSMBnews: Do you use SolidWorks? Join our chat with @SolidSmack & @Cadalyst_Mag that starts –in just 3 hours– using #DellCAD http://del.ly/6012RzUe

DanitaBlackwood


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July 28, 2011

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RT @DellSMBnews: Join us, @SolidSmack and @Cadalyst_Mag TODAY at 3pm Central for a TwitterChat on #SolidWorks. Hastag = #DellCAD http://del.ly/6012Rzmu

LaurenatDell


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July 28, 2011

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RT @DellSMBnews: Join us, @SolidSmack and @Cadalyst_Mag TODAY at 3pm Central for a TwitterChat on #SolidWorks. Hastag = #DellCAD http://del.ly/6012Rzmu

LPT


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July 28, 2011

LPT imgimg
RT: Do you use SolidWorks? Join our chat with @SolidSmack & @Cadalyst_Mag that starts –in just 3 hours– using #DellCAD http://t.co/vY2U7gd

DellChannel


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July 28, 2011

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RT @DellSMBnews: Join us, @SolidSmack and @Cadalyst_Mag TODAY at 3pm Central for a TwitterChat on #SolidWorks. Hastag = #DellCAD http://del.ly/6012Rzmu

DellSmbUS


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD TwitterChat in 1 hour with @SolidSmack: Performance optimization with #SolidWorks. http://t.co/3juQzy1

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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30 min until our tweetchat w/ @SolidSmack & @Cadalyst_Mag to talk SolidWorks performance & workstations. #DellCAD http://del.ly/6011RzSt

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

DellSMBnews imgimg
RT @DellSMBnews: 30 min until our tweetchat w/ @SolidSmack & @Cadalyst_Mag to talk SolidWorks performance & workstations. #DellCAD http://del.ly/6011RzSt

digitalworldsam


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July 28, 2011

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20 minutes till @joshmings fills your tweet stream with sweet #SolidWorks Performance Q&A. Grab a ham and follow #DellCAD @Cadalyst_Mag

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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Live Twitter chat on CAD starting now! See #DellCAD to join in the conversation.

DellEnterprise


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD TweetChat in 5 min with @SolidSmack. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk #SolidWorks. http://t.co/3juQzy1

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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Twitter chat with @solidsmack starting in 4 minutes. Shantanu Kedar from the SolidWorks Partner Team will be helping out on our end #DellCAD

SolidWorks


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July 28, 2011

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getting ready to hang with @joshmings to chat about SolidWorks performance and workstations – join #DellCAD (I’ll be there as @DellSMBnews)

LPT


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July 28, 2011

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RT: @DellEnterprise Live Twitter chat on CAD starting now! See #DellCAD to join in the conversation.

DellChannel


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July 28, 2011

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Welcome to the #DellCAD TwitterChat with @SolidSmack. We’re talking about #SolidWorks optimization right now.

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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I’m Michelle with @Cadalyst_Mag. Please use #DellCAD to follow along as we chat with Josh Mings of @SolidSmack about #SolidWorks.

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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One of Cadalyst’s favorite bloggers, Josh Mings @SolidSmack is ready for your questions. Use #DellCAD to ask a ?.

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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We’re excited to be partnering with @CADalyst_Mag and @SolidSmack today to talk workstations and SolidWorks performance at #DellCAD!

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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Want to optimize the gravy bits out of #SolidWorks on your workstation? Tell us your story at #DellCAD right about… now.

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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Please introduce yourself at any time in the conversation by using the #DellCAD hashtag.

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD tweetchat starting now. Join the discussion about optimizing your workstation performance for #SolidWorks

LaurenatDell


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July 28, 2011

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Remember to use #DellCAD in your tweets to join in the conversation about optimizing #SolidWorks.

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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My favorite way to optimize SolidWorks? Smart modeling practice – minimize external ref, reduce relations, complex features last #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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checking out #DellCAD looking forward to what Josh has to say
John

waldenweb


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July 28, 2011

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RT @Cadalyst_Mag: I’m Michelle with @Cadalyst_Mag. Please use #DellCAD to follow along as we chat with Josh Mings of @SolidSmack about #SolidWorks.

bcbenton


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July 28, 2011

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RT @LaurenatDell: #DellCAD tweetchat starting now. Join the discussion about optimizing your workstation performance for #SolidWorks

bcbenton


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July 28, 2011

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@waldenweb nice to see ya John. How’s the SolidWorks performance these days? #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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Jumping into TwitterChat now w/ @SolidSmack #DellCAD – I’m mostly a PDM/PLM guy, but Josh is 2 cool to miss and I’ve been a SWX fan for yrs

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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#SolidWorks optimization on the hardware side? Maximize CPU speed. You’ll be glad you did. #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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RT @jonathanpscott: Jumping into TwitterChat now w/ @SolidSmack #DellCAD – I’m mostly a PDM/PLM guy, but Josh is 2 cool to miss and I’ve been a SWX fan for yrs

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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RT @LaurenatDell: #DellCAD tweetchat starting now. Join the discussion about optimizing your workstation performance for #SolidWorks

CamilleATX


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July 28, 2011

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How do you optimize file colaboration with Solidworks? #DellCAD

bcbenton


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July 28, 2011

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RT @SolidSmack: #SolidWorks optimization on the hardware side? Maximize CPU speed. You’ll be glad you did. #DellCAD

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD: Josh, we’ve got a reader who needs to upgrade to run the latest #SolidWorks. What do you recommend?

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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RT @LPT: getting ready to hang with @joshmings to chat about SolidWorks performance and workstations – join #DellCAD

JohnEvansDesign


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July 28, 2011

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Running SW2010 on Windows 7 64bit with 8G Ram, working pretty well #DellCAD

waldenweb


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July 28, 2011

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If upgrading to SolidWorks 2011, go Windows 7 64bit, 6GB RAM minimum (It’s cheap!), 1GB graphics card is nice too. @Cadalyst_Mag #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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Ooh, question about #SolidWorks file collaboration optimization on #DellCAD – now you’ve got my full attention!

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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RT @Cadalyst_Mag: #DellCAD: Josh, we’ve got a reader who needs to upgrade to run the latest #SolidWorks. What do you recommend?

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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RT @johnevansdesign: RT @LPT: getting ready to hang with @joshmings to chat about SolidWorks performance and workstations – join #DellCAD

bcbenton


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July 28, 2011

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RT @Cadalyst_Mag: One of Cadalyst’s favorite bloggers, Josh Mings @SolidSmack is ready for your questions. Use #DellCAD to ask a ?.

olegshilovitsky


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July 28, 2011

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@waldenweb – 8GB of RAM — worth it, you think? I believe the more RAM, the better. #DellCAD

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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@bcbenton file collaboration: two ways – 1) work off network with established file name convention #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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RT @SolidSmack: If upgrading to SolidWorks 2011, go Windows 7 64bit, 6GB RAM minimum (It’s cheap!), 1GB graphics card is nice too. @Cadalyst_Mag #DellCAD

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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@bcbenton file collaboration (cont) 2) invest in PDM system. sad but true with that. pricey but worth it for med to large company. #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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On the @solidsmack tweet stream listening to @joshmings #SolidWorks performance Q&A #dellcad

olegshilovitsky


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July 28, 2011

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RT @SolidSmack: If upgrading to SolidWorks 2011, go Windows 7 64bit, 6GB RAM minimum (It’s cheap!), 1GB graphics card is nice too. @Cadalyst_Mag #DellCAD

Lanett78


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July 28, 2011

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@Cadalyst_Mag – your reader that is upgrading might find our workstation advisor tool helpful, too: http://del.ly/6011RztB #DellCAD

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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RT @JohnEvansDesign: RT @LPT: getting ready to hang with @joshmings to chat about SolidWorks performance and workstations – join #DellCAD

vzinkus


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July 28, 2011

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I like answer #2 to @bcbenton question on SWX file collaboration – use PDM if you can afford it. You get collab AND other benefits #DellCAD

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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Did you know Dell Precision workstations are specifically designed for professionals like those of you who use #SolidWorks? #DellCAD

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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@Cadalyst_Mag @waldenweb running one rig with 2 Processors and 24GB of RAM…. wooooow, worth it. #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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lightweight components and large assembly mode will help with the optimization. #Dellcad

lazytrax


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July 28, 2011

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@jonathanpscott what are your thoughts on how PDM helps optimize SolidWorks and Workstation? #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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I just drooled a little: @SolidSmack @waldenweb running one rig with 2 Processors and 24GB of RAM…. wooooow, worth it. #DellCAD

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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Questions about CAD hardware configurations? Ask a #Dell expert – @DellRonnie – on #DellCAD

LaurenatDell


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July 28, 2011

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true, and SpeedPacks! @lazytrax: lazytrax: lightweight components and large assembly mode will help with SolidWorks optimization. #Dellcad

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD @SolidSmack One big way is thru view/search ability – non-PDM SWX users sometimes load everything into session just to find 1 part

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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@SolidSmack @bcbenton 1/file share or 2/PDM is pretty much all what available today mainstream for collaboration. #dellcad

olegshilovitsky


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD: We’ve got another reader who is new to #SolidWorks RealView. Any tips on hardware or software optimization?

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD @SolidSmack Another PDM plus is managing the 3D->2D link. SWX is OK on the 2D->3D direction. But can cost time to find drws from 3D

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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RT @dellsmbnews: @Cadalyst_Mag your reader that’s upgrading might find our workstation advisor tool helpful http://del.ly/6011RztB #DellCAD

bcbenton


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July 28, 2011

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RT @LaurenatDell: Questions about CAD hardware configurations? Ask a #Dell expert – @DellRonnie – on #DellCAD

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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Is anyone using/not using #SolidWorks RealView? Why or why not? #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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RT @Cadalyst_Mag: One of Cadalyst’s favorite bloggers, Josh Mings @SolidSmack is ready for your questions. Use #DellCAD to ask a ?.

tonyisme


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July 28, 2011

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If there are any specific #Dell questions about CAD workstation configurations, let me know! #DellCAD

DellRonnie


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July 28, 2011

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unreal RT @Cadalyst_Mag: I just drooled a little: @SolidSmack @waldenweb running one rig with 2 Processors and 24GB of RAM.. #DellCAD

JohnEvansDesign


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July 28, 2011

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@Cadalyst_Mag One way to ensure a good RealView experience is to have a professional level graphics card. #DellCAD http://bit.ly/brRb6X

SolidWorks


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD @bcbenton One more collab tip for SWX is using “multi-user env” options – bad news is it doesn’t always play nice with PDM systems.

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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A SolidWorks certified GPU will help with RealView. Can view here… some req’ additional file http://bit.ly/oyunZT @Cadalyst_Mag #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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@Cadalyst_Mag – speaking of drooling… here’s a fun workstation-related video for motorcycle fans joining #DellCAD http://del.ly/6013Rzt3

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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Introduce yourself at any time in the conversation by using the #DellCAD hashtag.

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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#Dellcad RealView feels distracting/unnecessary, not real. Zebra stripes w/surfaces and preview w/PW pretty much removes the need also

tonyisme


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July 28, 2011

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#Dellcad that should be: preview with PhotoView, PV, not PW

tonyisme


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July 28, 2011

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RT @bcbenton: RT @dellsmbnews: @Cadalyst_Mag your reader that’s upgrading might find our workstation advisor tool helpful http://del.ly/6011RztB #DellCAD

Kylee_Dell


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July 28, 2011

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RT @DellSMBnews: @Cadalyst_Mag – speaking of drooling… here’s a fun workstation-related video for motorcycle fans joining #DellCAD http://del.ly/6013Rzt3

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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@SolidWorks: Graphics cards! Such a hot topic on #CADspeed. Great link: http://t.co/jy0baxR #DellCAD

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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def for heavy surface modeling! @tonyisme: Zebra stripes w/surfaces and preview w/PW pretty much removes the need for RealView #Dellcad

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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RT @DellSMBnews: Did you know Dell Precision workstations are specifically designed for professionals like those of you who use #SolidWorks? #DellCAD

cadesigntek


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July 28, 2011

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RT @LaurenatDell: Questions about CAD hardware configurations? Ask a #Dell expert – @DellRonnie – on #DellCAD

cadesigntek


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July 28, 2011

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Questions about CAD hardware configurations? Ask a #Dell expert – @DellRonnie – on #DellCAD #dellcad

Kylee_Dell


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July 28, 2011

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and not to leave F1 fans in #DellCAD out, we’ve also got video of Dell workstations helping Cosworth build engines: http://del.ly/6016Rztu

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD Anybody using Solid State Drives to help their #SolidWorks performance? Made a huge difference on my laptop!

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD If you missed Josh’s blog on #CADspeed: Optimize #SolidWorks & be a happier user – http://t.co/BJ1A8MC

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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RT @SolidSmack: Is anyone using/not using #SolidWorks RealView? Why or why not? #DellCAD

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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Do you have a dedicated computer just for #SolidWorks? or do you run everything on one? #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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Another hot topic – opinions? @jonathanpscott: #DellCAD Anybody using Solid State Drives to help their #SolidWorks performance?

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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Dell Precision certified Workstations are optimized for #Solidworks. Check out our latest workstations: http://t.co/YylUTNW #DellCAD

DellRonnie


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July 28, 2011

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@solidsmack I run SWX alongside all my other apps – but then again, I am a PDM guy… #DellCAD

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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RT @Cadalyst_Mag: #DellCAD If you missed Josh’s blog on #CADspeed: Optimize #SolidWorks & be a happier user – http://t.co/BJ1A8MC

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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Have you checked out the CADspeed blog yet http://cadspeed.wordpress.com #dellcad

Kylee_Dell


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July 28, 2011

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@jonathanpscott #Dellcad ssd impr. file loading a lot. Not much to gain on modeling or sim performance though. The CPU still needs to chew

tonyisme


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July 28, 2011

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RT @jonathanpscott: #DellCAD Anybody using Solid State Drives to help their #SolidWorks performance? Made a huge difference on my laptop!

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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@jonathanpscott exactly! you are running SolidWorks (btw me too), but actually not using it (lol) @solidsmack #dellcad

olegshilovitsky


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July 28, 2011

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@olegshilovitsky #DellCAD Oleg – you are right about that! LOL I rarely model much more than a plate. :)

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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@Cadalyst_Mag @jonathanpscott @solidsmack I’m using SSD. Not only for Solidworks. It helps a lot for performance. #dellcad

olegshilovitsky


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July 28, 2011

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@cadcompany : Questions about CAD hardware configurations? Ask a #Dell expert – @DellRonnie – on #DellCAD

PattyGroenland


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July 28, 2011

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Follow a workstation guru > RT @DellRonnie: Dell Precision certified Workstations are optimized for #Solidworks. dell.com/precision #DellCAD

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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RT @olegshilovitsky: @Cadalyst_Mag @jonathanpscott @solidsmack I’m using SSD. Not only for Solidworks. It helps a lot for performance. #dellcad

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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SSD and SATA combination environment is a good way to optimize speed and storage. SSD’s getting cheaper. @tonyisme @jonathanpscott #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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@DellRonnie: Any advice on switching to SSD? #DellCAD

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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RT @SolidSmack: SSD and SATA combination environment is a good way to optimize speed and storage. SSD’s getting cheaper. @tonyisme @jonathanpscott #DellCAD

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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RT @Kylee_Dell: Have you checked out the CADspeed blog yet http://cadspeed.wordpress.com #dellcad

LaurenatDell


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD Not all SSDs are created equally – remember to check the specs. Its like the difference between 4200 RPM drives and 10k RPM drives.

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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@SolidSmack @jonathanpscott #Dellcad SSD for system disk & SATA for storage/simulation dumping ground <- would be my ideal combo

tonyisme


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July 28, 2011

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@tonyisme Sounds like a good combo. #DellCAD @DellRonnie – are there Precisions that have multiple HDD config options?

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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RT @jonathanpscott: #DellCAD Not all SSDs are created equally – check the specs. Its like the diff between 4200 RPM and 10k RPM drives.

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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RT @jonathanpscott: #DellCAD Anybody using Solid State Drives to help their #SolidWorks performance? Made a huge difference on my laptop!

Lanett78


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July 28, 2011

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In case any #DellCAD tweeters need a new workstation quick, 17’’ Precision M6600 w/LCD touch screen now Ships Fast http://del.ly/6014Rztk

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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@jonathanpscott @tonyisme Yes! All of our Precision workstations support multiple HDD configs with RAID options #DellCAD

DellRonnie


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July 28, 2011

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This #DellCAD TwitterChat is sponsored by #Dell. Thanks to @DellSMBNews for their support!

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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@SolidSmack: Is anyone using #SolidWorks RealView? Not often – hurts my eyes when doing detail work #DellCAD

cambridgedesign


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July 28, 2011

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Thanks also to @AMD_Unprocessed for its support for #DellCAD TwitterChat and the #CADspeed blog.

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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Special thanks to one of our favorite bloggers, Josh Mings @SolidSmack for a great #DellCAD TwitterChat.

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD: @solidworks Thanks to the #SolidWorks team for their support!

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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@DellSMBnews you need to remove the insanely annoying floating “wanna chat” box. Seriously #Dellcad #offtopic

tonyisme


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July 28, 2011

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A full transcript will be available after the TwitterChat. Watch for #DellCAD or follow @Cadalyst_Mag for the link.

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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@Cadalyst_Mag – you’re very welcome. And thanks to you, @SolidSmack and everyone else who joined us for #DellCAD today!

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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The #DellCAD TwitterChat is officially closed. Please feel free to keep chatting amongst yourselves. Thanks to all for participating!

Cadalyst_Mag


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July 28, 2011

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RT @Cadalyst_Mag: A full transcript will be available after the TwitterChat. Watch for #DellCAD or follow @Cadalyst_Mag for the link.

olegshilovitsky


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July 28, 2011

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#DellCAD Thanks, Josh (@SolidSmack). Good TwitterChat.

jonathanpscott


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July 28, 2011

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@Cadalyst_Mag great initiative! #Dellcad

tonyisme


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July 28, 2011

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learned about tweet chat made by #dellcad and @solidsmack. maybe we need to have one about #PLM?

olegshilovitsky


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July 28, 2011

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Also, check out the #SolidWorks performance article here on the CADSpeed blog http://bit.ly/papOs0 #DellCAD

SolidSmack


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July 28, 2011

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Thanks @solidsmack @cadalyst_mag @DellSMBNews for a nice TwitterChat today #DellCAD

razorleaf


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July 28, 2011

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While today’s #DellCAD tweetchat has officially ended the conversation doesn’t have to stop! Continue to use the hashtag, follow @DellRonnie

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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RT @SolidSmack: Also, check out the #SolidWorks performance article here on the CADSpeed blog http://bit.ly/papOs0 #DellCAD

JohnEvansDesign


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July 28, 2011

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Also > RT @SolidSmack: [...] wondering about SolidWorks/Workstation performance email josh@solidsmack.com or stop by solidsmack.com #DellCAD

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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And > RT @Cadalyst_Mag: A full transcript will be available after the TwitterChat. Watch for #DellCAD or follow @Cadalyst_Mag for the link.

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

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@razorleaf – you’re very welcome! thank you for joining #DellCAD ~LPT

DellSMBnews


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July 28, 2011

DellSMBnews imgimg
RT @DellSMBnews: In case any #DellCAD tweeters need a new workstation quick, 17’’ Precision M6600 w/LCD touch screen now Ships Fast http://del.ly/6014Rztk

DellChannel


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July 28, 2011

DellChannel imgimg
RT @DellSMBnews: In case any #DellCAD tweeters need a new workstation quick, 17’’ Precision M6600 w/LCD touch screen now Ships Fast http://del.ly/6014Rztk

adaptivecorp


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July 28, 2011

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RT @DellEnterprise: Live Twitter chat on CAD starting now! See #DellCAD to join in the conversation.

mandheer


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July 28, 2011

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Four Practical Approaches to Improving SolidWorks Performance

July 27, 2011 4 comments

SolidWorksWhat goes into improving SolidWorks performance? Way too much. Really, programs, CAD software should be more simple. Hardware should be more simple, but for the very reason that software and hardware are not developed together, we’re faced with attempting to optimize both and you… are faced with this article.

You can break all the aspects of performance and what goes into optimizing your system into four practical approaches. You can apply these to a large company, small company or an individual. You can use it as a checklist or give it to IT and tell them to get their act together.

Software Performance

SolidWorks is a strange beast. You’ll get optimal performance one time and then something changes to totally confuse you. How you create your model — keeping files together, reducing external references, optimizing relations — helps. These are all things that a bit of training and a solid slap can solve. Beyond that, you can improve performance by going into the SolidWorks options and turning off the SolidWorks news feed, reducing level of detail and setting the search to index only when idle. RealView adds more realistic visuals for material and environments. If you notice lag, try toggling it off under View / Display / RealView. All good things to know, but none of this will matter as much if you have optimized hardware.

Hardware Performance

For best performance with SolidWorks, it’s always best to start with hardware. You’ll find better performance with SolidWorks with a faster CPU. Max that sucker out. Multiple CPUs, even better. Recommended RAM for current SolidWorks versions is 6GB. It’s cheap, toss it in. A 1GB graphics card will provide smoother visuals. Turn off visual effects for Windows. Go to Performance Info and Tools in the Windows Control Panel and adjust for best performance. Keep your computer clean. Use programs like Speccy to monitor your system, Defraggler to keep your system defragged and CCleaner to keep that registry and program list optimized.

Software Life Cycle

Keeping software updated can be challenging, particularly when new versions of software that are used together come out at different times throughout the year. For best performance increases and time to allow testing of new functionality, I suggest a 14-18 month update cycle. This allows for at least one Service Pack (point release) of SolidWorks and provides time for a soft roll-out of the update.

Hardware Life Cycle

I list this last because it’s often the coldest piece of cod to swallow. Hardware is expensive. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for the necessary upgrades that you will need over the years, especially in light of SolidWorks software updates and the need to keep employees or yourself super efficient. 2-year hardware cycles are often ideal for three reasons. It keeps you apprised of the technology, improves power efficiencies/capabilities and you get a better tax break for donating the old stuff to charity.

We view performance as software that doesn’t crash and hardware that doesn’t make us wait around. There’s always something you can do to make it all run a little better. The bottom line is this: Keep on a clear update cycle for software and hardware. Deal with hardware performance first, maxing out CPU speed, then deal with the intricacies of the software itself. You’ll have a smoother running system and you’ll be a much happier SolidWorks user.

Join Josh Mings for a TwitterChat on Thursday, July 28 at 4 p.m. ET. We’ll be talking about performance on SolidWorks. Follow the conversation at #dellcad and jump in!  Click for more information.

Josh Mings is a mechanical engineer in the aircraft interiors industry. He is a CSWP with certified training and support for SolidWorks. He is editor of SolidSmack.com covering CAD, design and technology and is co-host of Engineer vs. Designer at evd1.tv. Follow him on Twitter@joshmings and @solidsmack or find him at LinkedIn or Google+.

Optimize AutoCAD Civil 3D Performance: Hardware, Operating System and Workflow Upgrades

July 25, 2011 2 comments

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012Many AutoCAD Civil 3D users are aware that upgrading to a 64-bit operating system, preferably Windows 7 and Windows Vista (in that order), will give the biggest return on investment when looking at improving performance.  Other opportunities to improve performance also exist.

One is multiple or multi-core processors.  For the most part, AutoCAD Civil 3D runs as a single process, which means it will not utilize more than one processor, even if they are available.  The exception to this is rendering, where multiple or multi-core processors can result in as much as a 250% decrease in render time.  Though Civil 3D does not take advantage of multi-core processing, having multiple processors can still be beneficial since it enables you to run processes, such as anti-virus and firewall software, as well as other applications—such as Outlook—on separate processors and provide a more dedicated processor for AutoCAD Civil 3D. If you are a user who multitasks throughout the day and runs several applications at the same time, you may see added benefits in multiple or multi-core processors.

When contemplating hard drives, you should consider the data transfer rate.  Faster data transfer rates will help decrease the time it takes to open Civil 3D, as well as load and save drawings that are stored locally.  In addition, a faster transfer rate can increase performance when utilizing the hard drive for virtual memory, especially with 32-bit operating systems.

Beyond hardware and operating system changes, there are tactics you can implement to improve the performance of your day-to-day work in Civil 3D.  These include

  • Using code set styles with no fill or a solid fill. Stay away from hatch patterns.
  • Avoid using the option to grid clip profile views until producing construction documents.  When working with pipe networks, turn off hatching, pipe cleanup and masking until producing construction documents.  Using the option ‘Display as boundary’ is also optimal.
  • Use single-label components versus multiples.
  • When working with surfaces use 1) external point files versus COGO points, 2) surface snapshots when possible, and 3) Level of Detail (LOD) display
  • When working with corridors, turn off rebuild automatically and don’t display regions you aren’t working with. Additionally, create cross sections in a separate drawing.

This combination of operating system, hardware, and workflow adjustments can help to optimize your experience working with AutoCAD Civil 3D.

Authors: Karen Weiss, Transportation and Land Infrastructure Industry Marketing Manager, Autodesk; Jason Hickey, Senior Support Specialist, Autodesk

Hardware Configurations for Solid Edge and Other CAD Applications

June 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Since high performance, high scalability workstations can cost a bit more than traditional desktops or laptops, people should do some comparison shopping first. An entry-level desktop workstation can be both price competitive and still offer many features of traditionally higher priced workstations. So what should you look for when you are comparing hardware features?

Dual Core vs. Quad Core

One thing to consider is that CAD is still mostly a single-threaded application (yeah, there are some places it is not like rendering and FEA and it is slowly creeping into other aspects of CAD), but if you mainly do CAD modeling, max clock speed is the goal. On a desktop workstation, the quad core offers highest frequency (3.2 GHz) vs. the dual core (2.53 GHz). While six cores are not necessary for Solid Edge, you should consider what other applications you will be running, perhaps simultaneously, to determine the total number of cores you will need.

On a mobile workstation, however, both the quad core and dual core processors offer the same frequencies (max turbo), the quad core does so at a much higher price point. The base frequency on the quad core is lower (2.50 GHz).

More Power

Higher power graphics and more memory are both are important for CAD when loading complex models and assemblies and of course manipulating them fluidly. It is the workstation where the delineation between these components (memory, OpenGL graphics and CPU speed) and a normal desktop is most noticeable.

A couple folks on the Solid Edge forum pointed out they have gotten some good deals at the Dell Outlet store. These are not brand new systems and the inventory can fluctuate, but if you are on a tight budget this option may be for you. I’d hate to manage a CAD team where every designer has a different model, but for an individual or small shop, it might be worth considering.

Below are some sample configurations to help you in your research. These configurations were provided by Dell so Solid Edge users could have some comparisons during the Solid Edge ST4 Global Launch Event, held June 15-16, 2011, in Huntsville, Alabama.

Hardware Configurations for CAD Workstations

Hardware Configurations for CAD Workstations

Hardware Configurations for Mobile CAD Workstations

Hardware Configurations for Mobile CAD Workstations

Author: Mark Burhop – Programs Director, Velocity Technology Ecosystem – Siemens PLM.
Find Mark Burhop on Twitter http://twitter.com/burhop

OpenCL Will Rock the CAD World, Part 4: What You Should Do About It Now

June 2, 2011 2 comments

So far in this series, we’ve talked about why you want OpenCL, how it works, and how it will affect your CAD workflow. The question remains: what should you do about OpenCL right now?

Avoiding the VHS vs. Betamax War

OpenCLArguably one of the most important elements of OpenCL is that it is an open standard, not controlled by any one vendor and not limited to one kind of graphics cards or CPU. Microsoft has DirectCompute. Nvidia has the proprietary GPU-only CUDA.  But OpenCL is vendor neutral with incredible momentum and the only solution that is designed for the next generation of heterogeneous computing coming from Intel and AMD.

Heterogeneous Computing Makes OpenCL Even More Relevant

Heterogeneous computing is the new term you will hear to refer to integrated CPUs and GPUs on a single die  (e.g., AMD’s Fusion APUs or Intel’s Sandy Bridge). This is the future of mobile, handheld and desktop computers.  The APU design is both more power efficient and solves the problem of data transfer latencies between the CPU and GPU.

This shift in processor design makes OpenCL even more relevant and ubiquitous. Because GPU and CPU are on the same die, there is no bandwidth or bus latencies when transferring data between CPU and GPU. OpenCL code runs full throttle.  For additional performance, add in a discrete workstation graphics board. Any OpenCL-savvy application will automatically and seamlessly take advantage of the additional compute power.

What’s a CAD User to Do Now?

Chances are you already have a workstation graphics card in your desktop or mobile workstation. What you want are applications that take advantage of OpenCL.  The best way to accelerate this is to contact your preferred CAD/CAE software vendor (e.g. ANSYS, Autodesk, CEI, Dassault, ESI, Intelligent Light, MCS, Siemens to name a few) and ask them when they will be adding OpenCL for new features or to accelerate existing features in their application.  Most of the significant players are already working on it, so your voice just helps them get their products to market faster.

I’m going to be following the upcoming AMD Fusion Developer Summit very closely. Much of this conference is focused on OpenCL, so I am expecting to see some interesting announcements and demonstration that show off OpenCL capabilities.  I’ll post updates as I hear them.

Author: Tony DeYoung

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