The release of IMSI TurboCAD Pro v19 this spring marked the first version of this CAD platform available in a 64-bit version. Previous versions of TurboCAD were only available as 32-bit, which limited the use of onboard memory for opening and manipulating large CAD files and for performing memory-intensive functions such as photorealistic rendering. No longer! Now TurboCAD users can experience the full capacity of the 64-bit versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
The Advantages of a 64-Bit Application
The advantage of a 64-bit application working on a 64-bit OS means the program can address up to 48 times more available RAM (memory) than with a 32-bit application.
TurboCAD user Ken Friend has been using desktop CAD to create model kit designs. Initially, Ken used TurboCAD for 2D plans but then quickly evolved in using it for 3D design, taking advantage of the solid modeling capability introduced back in TurboCAD v6.
At that time, he designed a radio-controlled glider, which used an electric motor to take the plane to altitude. Once at altitude the motor would be switched off and the plane would glide back to earth. Ken said that one of the advantages to using TurboCAD at that time was the great way you could design rounded corners (3D fillets) for the fuselage and wings.
Rendering with 64-bit TurboCAD
More recently, Ken has been involved in modeling an ocean liner, the Normandie, with TurboCAD. Ken is making the model as the ship was originally built in the early 1930s. The rendering below of Ken Friend’s cruise ship file (250 MB) was never even able to be opened with previous versions of TurboCAD, let alone rendered!
Ken has been working on this modeling project for the past 2 1/2 years. Back in 2009, Ken actually received a third place in one of the first TurboCAD Challenges put on by Don Cheke for an early version of this 1/350 scale model. Ken’s goal is to create a kit that can be sold to modeling hobbyists. Ken’s been able to reduce the size of the model from 250 MB in size to a more manageable 65 MB by converting much of the solid modeling detail to surfaces.
He’s also now taking advantage of advances in 3D printer technology, including the more affordable prices, in order to manufacture the ship’s hull in sections. He hopes in the future to also print out smaller, more detailed components of the ship as well.
With a 64-bit OS and TurboCAD v19, users no longer have to struggle to open large files or see that annoying message in the middle of your rendering that says the system is low on memory and may not be able to complete the operation. Instead, if your system has additional memory, the 64-bit version of TurboCAD Pro will fully utilize it and large drawings will open smoothly and can be edited or rendered without a significant fall-off in performance.
Author: Bob Mayer, Chief Operating Officer, IMSI/Design
Autodesk has released the platform and system requirements for AutoCAD 2013, which was launched on March 27, 2012. You can review the system requirements on the Autodesk website.
Below are a few frequently asked questions about AutoCAD 2013.
Does AutoCAD 2013 software support 64-bit operating systems?
Yes. (See the system requirements on the Autodesk website.)
Does AutoCAD 2013 software support Windows Vista?
No, AutoCAD 2013 does not support the Windows Vista® operating system.
Does AutoCAD 2013 software support Mac OS X?
AutoCAD 2013 for Mac supports some versions of Mac OS® X. (See the system requirements on the Autodesk website.)
What are the differences between AutoCAD 2013 and AutoCAD 2013 for Mac?
AutoCAD 2013 and AutoCAD 2013 for Mac are based on much of the same source code; however, AutoCAD for Mac 2013 has a look and feel that is familiar to users of other Mac software. (See the system requirements on the Autodesk website.)
Does AutoCAD 2013 software support multiple CPU systems?
Yes, AutoCAD 2013 software supports multiple CPUs. The performance of AutoCAD graphics and rendering systems benefits from multiple CPU systems.
Mathew Kirkland has put together a routine that will determine whether the version of AutoCAD installed on a particular machine is 32-bit or 64-bit. This is useful if you manage various machines in a mixed environment, because some third-party routines require different files to be loaded depending on the version.
Want more information about upgrading to a 64-bit operating system? Check out Curt Moreno’s series on CADspeed!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Many 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
Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk 3ds Max Design software are applications for the creations of special effects for TV and movies, video games and design visualization assets. With such broad capabilities, the software’s systems requirements reflect the diverse aspects of this powerful tool.
Often I see 3ds Max used to review hardware speeds and capabilities because it will draw on every morsel the hardware can give. So, while the development team here at Autodesk works hard on giving you a good list in their system requirements documents, here are some hints to help you get the most out of your 3ds Max experience.
3ds Max relies on your systems processors for a number functions, and as 3ds Max develops, more and more of these functions should become multithreaded.
The most dramatic use of processor is during rendering. Taping into every processor available on the machine, some rendering technologies like mental ray can actually draw on processors from other PCs through its distributed bucket rendering settings. So when it comes to rendering there’s no doubt that faster and more processors help.
During the course of 3ds Max software’s life, there has been the misconception that the video card contributed to the speed of rendering. With recent releases, the GPU on the video card is just NOW starting to help in the rendering process. Add to that the new viewport capabilities and the value of strong video cards has come into their own. For example, Quicksilver hardware rendering requires additional GPU resources to work effectively. A minimum of 512 MB of graphics memory should be used. A minimum of 1 GB is recommended for more complex scenes, shaders, and lighting modes. This wizard can certainly help narrow down the field.
Another consideration to your video card purchases is the amount of on board memory it will have. When it comes to loading and displaying large texture maps on screen, you will need more video memory the larger and greater the amount of textures.
Also, to optimize their products for the 3ds Max artist, many video card manufacturers develop drivers specifically for 3ds Max and their hardware.
Physical Memory (RAM)
Physical memory needs are directly proportional to scene complexity. To load all of that data into 3ds Max with texture maps, plugins, modifiers stacks, etc., will all require higher and higher amounts of physical or RAM memory. Your operating system will also affect your memory needs. 64 bit operating systems will require more physical memory, but also allow for greater amounts to be installed. So, if you are dealing with multiple objects or high numbers of polygons, you will benefit from both a 64 bit system and lots of physical memory.
What this all boils down to is a solid workstation. The more you work in 3ds Max, the more I encourage you to increase the values in the systems requirements link. 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design will use every bit you give them.
Author: Eddie Perlberg, Autodesk Application Engineer
In part 1 of Hardware for the CAD Professional, we reviewed the basics of system requirements. In part 2, we defined some commonly used terms. Now let’s look at processors in your hardware and how they can affect your workflow.
Processors, Cores and Background Processing
The heart of your system is the processor, and these days that processor might beat with more than one heart. While the headlong advance towards higher and higher processor clock speeds has waned somewhat, multi-core processors have become much more sophisticated. At the same time, more applications are supporting multi-threading, including the most capable design and visualization software packages. The move to 64-bit operating systems has been fueled by the ready accessibility of processors that will run such software and take advantage of its support for a larger memory model.
Watching an active graph of multiple cores in application is informative in that you can see tasks being assigned to and finished by each of the operative cores. Some applications, including AutoCAD, use some multitasking if multiple processors are available, but only in limited ways — for example in handling the interface and on-screen display. Visualization products such as Autodesk’s 3ds Max make more extensive use of multitasking and multicore processors. Often the cache size of the chip, bus speed, and dual vs. triple channel memory has a greater impact on performance than an application’s multitasking abilities — at least at present.
What Should I Buy?
Since multitasking and 64-bit operating systems have become the norm for CAD and Visualization software, it certainly makes sense to have one or more multi-core processors in any new system that you anticipate purchasing. When it’s time for me to purchase a new system, I tend to get whatever is the fastest and most capable processor available at the time of purchase. This ensures that I have a speedy system at present and that it won’t be obsolete for a longer period of time. As I see it, you can put in the money now and reap the benefits, rather than paying sooner when your system becomes too slow for the work you’re doing.
Before purchasing a new workstation, do your research on processors — what’s coming, when it’s expected, and what features and benefits does it bring. Also have a look at the socket it uses — will it allow upgrading processors in the future without having to purchase a new motherboard?
Author: Ron LaFon
At Cadalyst we often hear questions regarding the hardware end of the equation, particularly about the system requirements to do useful work with the AutoCAD family of products. As a result, I’m starting this series of blog posts on hardware for the CAD professional, with each segment focusing on a specific area such as graphic cards, memory and hard disks.
Base Requirements Are the Starting Point
Users often have a look at the base requirements for their planned design software and plan their system purchase accordingly. For the most part, vendors such as Autodesk provide requirements based on what is considered workable speeds, not what gives the absolute best performance overall. This information makes a good starting point for configuring your workstation, but shouldn’t be thought of as the “perfect” system requirements. These days Autodesk is providing both the requirements for just running AutoCAD, along with an additional set of higher specifications required for systems creating 3D work.
Requirements for 3D Modeling
The additional requirements for 3D modeling (all configurations, 32-bit and 64-bit) include faster and more capable processors, 2GB RAM or more, 2GB of available hard disk space in addition to free space required for installation, and a graphics display adapter capable of at least 1,280 x 1,024 resolution in true color. The graphics card needs to have 128MB or more memory, support for Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater, and Microsoft Direct3D capabilities. On looking at even these more advanced requirements, they seem to be still targeting the minimum rather than the truly useful range.
Best Performance for Your Dollars
My plan is to go through the system component choices you’ll be faced with if you configure a workstation online — what will give you the best performance for your dollars. With technological innovations and higher capacity hardware, this presents a constantly changing target. We all too often receive emails from users who “bought a system that meets the specifications provided” but is still too slow for the kind of work they are doing. All too often the impact of a given system component can negatively impact overall performance. At the same time, it’s possible to make some tweaks to well-performing systems to enhance their capabilities even more.
Author: Ron LaFon
When Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD 14 was released last year, a client called us about upgrading. The upgrade was a significant one, as this company was still using ArchiCAD 10. At this point, the company’s drafters were essentially working around problems with their system, which included “Memory Full” errors when updating elevation sheets and other system timeouts.
Yet upgrading had the potential to fix more than just the memory issues. The lure of building information modeling (BIM) and improved 3D renderings made a lot of sense for this client’s business plan. This medium-sized, privately owned business specializes in custom home design and construction. The ability to improve their collaboration efforts, cut their production time while creating sophisticated 3D modeling could impact everything from their engineering department to their marketing and sales team.
64-bit Versus 32-bit Operating Systems
The company had already invested in upgrading its hardware, buying updated Dell Business Workstations. But they had yet to take the leap to a 64-bit operating system. ArchiCAD 14 was designed to use a 64-bit operating system, unlike ArchiCAD 10.
Often clients ask us about the difference between 64-bit and 32-bit operating systems. The terms refer to the computer’s processor (also called a CPU), which controls how the computer handles information. For example, the 64-bit version of Windows handles large amounts of random access memory (RAM) more effectively than a 32-bit system. A 64-bit operating system can make a huge difference in the ability of workstations to work with high-end CAD applications.
Our first step for the upgrade was updating the operating system on the client’s current computers to the 64-bit version of Windows. Before we did the OS upgrade, we ran some timed tests so we could compare how the system worked before the upgrade with how it worked after.
|Redraw Type||ArchiCAD 10 on
Windows 32-bit OS
|ArchiCAD 14 on
Windows 64-bit OS
|South||2 min 30 sec||58 sec|
|West||2 min 18 sec||42 sec|
|Section #1||1 min 8 sec||3 sec|
|3D Rendering – All||1 min 45 sec||22 sec|
|Elevation Sheet Update||(Stopped after 5+ min and third “Memory Full” warning)||2 min 20 sec|
These tests were on the same Dell computer with the same amount of RAM, just different versions of the Windows operating system and ArchiCAD. As you can see, the processor made all the difference in running the advanced features of CAD application, significantly cutting down the time for redraws even while running the more advanced features of the newer version of ArchiCAD.
Authors: Mark Shaw and James Ecklund
This blog was developed by Longitude Media, publisher of Cadalyst.
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