Archive for November, 2014

Intel Steadily Gains Market Share on Nvidia

November 30, 2014 Leave a comment

PC sales have reversed the decline seen over the past several years of tablet popularity, while workstation sales have reached $7 billion and are expected to climb to more than $9 billion within the next couple of years. Meanwhile, gaming machines are growing by 39 percent. What does all this add up to? There’s a growing need for better graphics performance and more powerful CPUs. Until recently, Nvidia (as well as AMD) have effectively made Intel feel like an un-favored, red-headed stepchild. Is that changing?

Performance Testing: Intel Versus Nvidia



In recent performance tests, Intel performed as well or better than Nvidia’s comparable products.


In recent performance testing, which pitted the Intel 3.7 GHZ E3-1245 V3 CPU directly against its class-equal, the Nvidia Quadro K600 AIB, the two came out more or less equally, with Intel outperforming the Nvidia in some key areas such as superior graphics capabilities and slightly faster processing time (though the times were on par enough that the average user would be unlikely to notice the difference).

In environments running compute-laden CAD software and complex models, every second counts. Will Intel’s performance improvements translate directly into improved market shares? Some evidence indicates this is already happening. You can learn about even more new developments in CAD workstation design at Cadalyst.

Market Shares: Intel Versus Nvidia



Will better performance translate into more users for Intel?


Recent market analysis shows that there is a slight decline in the overall demand for graphics cards. But most of this is attributed to normal market fluctuations, and doesn’t necessarily indicate a permanent decline in the overall market. Intel is blessed with a talented bunch of GPU engineers, and have been for some time.

While AMD’s market shares dropped over 18 percent in a single quarter, and Nvidia’s fell more than 10 percent, Intel’s market share went down less than 8 percent. Much of the support for Intel’s products can be attributed to the gaming sector, but the rest is likely a direct result of workstations, as PC demand was down significantly for that same quarter.

As early as last year, some were reporting significant improvements in Intel’s products, specifically in the arena of graphics. One of Intel’s best moves was incorporating support for OpenCL and OpenGL, both of which are gaining popularity among CAD professionals, as well as graphic artists, animators, and many graphics specialists in the media. Cadalyst is always here with the latest news and reviews involving CAD hardware and software development.

The Future of CAD Workstation Graphics

Is Intel clearly taking hold of the CAD graphics market? Maybe, maybe not. What is clear is that Intel is no longer content to sit on the sidelines while Nvidia and AMD run the show. CAD professionals who depend on workstations to make a living can expect to see better products coming from all of the top manufacturers in the graphics realm as each try to outdo the others in terms of performance and features.

For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD. Visit the Cadalyst website for up-to-date, accurate industry information today.


Categories: Graphics Cards Tags: , ,

Best Upgrades for CAD Workstations

November 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Everybody’s on a budget. At the same time, work deadlines are getting tighter and workloads are growing larger. So, what are the best investments that actually return higher productivity relative to their costs? When it comes time to upgrade your CAD workstation, here’s where you can get the boom for the buck.

RAM Memory: Cheap and Powerful


CAD workstations

RAM affects how every other component and application performs.


RAM rarely makes the top of the list in terms of upgrades, which is a shame because memory is one of the most affordable upgrades on the list and enhances the performance of all the other components of the machine. The larger and faster RAM your workstation has, the better the performance of every process and application. Shoot for at least 6 GB, but go for 16 or more if it’s in the budget, especially if you work with huge model files or compute-heavy applications like running analysis or rendering.

CPU Power: Good is Good but Best Isn’t Always Better

Many workstations are now coming standard with dual core processors, and even quad or hex core processors. Some software utilizes multiple cores, but some do not. Check the recommended CPU specs for the software packages you use the most and definitely invest in the best CPU you can afford. But if you’re running apps that don’t make use of multiple processors, it’s better to get the highest end single core instead of the lowest end dual or quad core. Still, CPU makes second on this list because a quality CPU means more productivity, especially for jobs like simulations and rendering, which are heavy on the processing.

GPU: Looking Good, Baby

Most workers want great-looking graphics, and in many jobs higher visual performance does relate to higher work performance.Higher end GPUs can offer greater power and speed, which is essential if you’re running 3-D graphics. A hefty GPU also makes visuals more fluid, especially during tasks like pan, zoom, rotate, and animation generation. Having a quality GPU can also take some of the load of RAM if memory is getting tight.

Solid State Disk Drives: SSD is Coming Down in Price, Yielding Higher Value


CAD workstations

SSDs are getting cheaper, and offer performance and longevity that justify the cost.


SSDs are finally coming down in price, though still significantly more expensive than comparable HDDs. SSDs don’t move, so these drives are ideal for field conditions where the machine is expected to endure a bit of punishment. SSDs also last longer, boot much faster, and generally offer more reliability. If SSD is anywhere near your budget limitations, it’s definitely worth the investment.

Monitors: The More the Merrier

Sleek 1280 X 720 HD monitors make it much easier to see detail and get an idea of what the finished product is going to look like. But the large, detailed monitors that work so spectacularly for CAD aren’t the best for viewing mundane items like email or spreadsheets. Invest in two monitors — one for the visual clarity and intense detail, and another, lower-end monitor for regular workday tasks. This also eliminates the need to switch views every time you get an email or need to add billable hours to a client’s spreadsheet.

For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD, including what products are worth the investment and which are best to skip. Visit the Cadalyst website for up-to-date, accurate industry information today.

Pros and Cons of Solid State Drives for CAD Workstations

November 24, 2014 Leave a comment

The primary difference between SSDs and HDDs is that SSDs don’t move, whereas HDDs are continually spinning. The price is also considerably different, with SSDs costing six to eight times as much as the same amount of storage space in an HDD. So, when is it worth the exorbitant cost of an SSD? There are actually several instances when the cost is worth the performance.

When SSD is the Best Option


CAD workstations

Solid state drives are worth the cost if the workstation is in the field much.


SSDs are significantly more tolerant of environmental roughness than HDDs, mainly because the drive isn’t spinning. In the field where vibrations and an occasional knock is expected, an SSD is able to withstand conditions far better than an HDD. When shopping for a mobile CAD workstation, SSD is the obvious solution, so long as the budget permits.

In conditions where speed is a primary concern, SSDs significantly outperform HDDs. Is it enough to make a difference? Yes. By reducing latency on every single task a worker performs all day every day, a lot more work gets done in less time. For a highly productive work situation, SSDs are definitely worth the cost.

SSDs also last longer than HDDs, so for jobs where it’s important to keep a machine running harder for longer, the SSD is, again, worth the price. An SSD’s lifespan is measured in write cycles. Consumer grade SSDs can hold up for about 3,000 to 5,000 cycles, and a single-level cell SSD flash drive can last up to 10,000 cycles. By limiting tasks like defragging, hibernation, and search indexing, the life of the SSD can be extended for years upon years.

When HDD is the Best Option


CAD workstations

Hard drives will remain in play until the cost of solid state drives goes down.


Aside from price, the main downside to SSDs is capacity. HDDs can store more versus the same size SSD. So in situations where lots of storage space is more important than speed, an HDD might actually be a better choice than the pricier SSD.

HDD will likely be a player for years to come, as many businesses simply can’t justify the cost of a comparable SSD. HDD allows lower-budget businesses to invest in CAD workstations for just a few hundred dollars more than a desktop PC, which means small businesses can still compete with the bigger guys.

Choosing an SSD/HDD Combination

Another option is to use a combination SSD/HDD setup. Usually, this configuration involves loading the operating system onto the SSD drive, for super fast and reliable boot up. The other applications are loaded onto the HDD drive, which allows for a high storage capacity without the additional cost. This can also make the operating system more reliable.

The main consideration, whether you opt for SSD or HDD, is to buy more memory than needed. Not only does memory go quicker than anticipated, a full drive simply doesn’t offer the performance provided by a less full drive.

For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD. Learn how to select hardware, see timely updates on software releases, and learn what direction the industry is moving at today.


The Dell Precision T1700 Entry Level Workstation Review: Worth All the Hype?

November 19, 2014 Leave a comment

When Dell announced the new Precision T1700, reviewers went wild. Is this compact workstation truly that innovative? After all, Lenovo and HP already had compact workstations well before Dell jumped on the mini wagon. As a latecomer to the world of CAD compactness, the true innovation in the Precision T1700 is not so much the size of the machine as the price. This workstation sells for about the same amount as a high-end desktop computer. Is it worth raving over?

Dell Precision T1700: The Design


Dell Precision T1700

The most innovative aspect of the T1700 Entry-Level Workstation is its price.


The Precision T1700 comes in two designs: the compact mini tower and the small form factor design (SFF). It’s ideal for situations where there isn’t space available for a full-size CAD workstation. The small size is made possible by the innovative chassis design, which layers the components inside on top of one another. The only downside to this configuration is that it makes internal expansion almost impossible. Servicing the components can also be an issue in the confined space.

Dell Precision T1700: The Power

Powered by a single Xenon quad core processor and Quadro graphics, the Precision T1700 offers a total of eight USB ports, four on the front and four on the back. Two of the ports on the front are 3.0 ports, ideal for high speed hard drives. The rest are 2.0 ports, perfect for slower peripherals like a mouse and keyboard. It also features an Ethernet port, two audio ports, a serial port and three display ports (one on the motherboard and an additional port on the Quadro K600 card). Additionally, the Precision T1700 offers one VGA port and one DVI port. It is ISV certified, and features a tray loading DVD drive.

Another limitation of the Precision T1700 is that it will only accept two monitors at a time. While this isn’t a problem for most managers and supervisors who only need to review and sign off on the work that’s already done, it isn’t usually adequate for CAD production workers, who need greater levels of performance.

Dell Precision T1700: The Usability


Dell Precision T1700

The Precision T1700 is ideal for managers and supervisors, especially if office space is limited.


The Precision T1700 is also quite lean in terms of preloaded software. Its operating system is essentially Windows 7 Pro, and it does feature the Dell Precision Performance Optimizer, which tweaks the system settings for performance when running ISV certified programs. The workstation also comes with Autodesk Maya and Dassault Systems SolidWorks, and does feature enough memory to download and run free CAD programs and the normal data sets and apps used by engineers and scientists.

For the exceptional price (under $1,000), the Dell Precision T1700 offers a solid performance CAD workstation. It’s ideal for managers and supervisors in the scientific, medical, and engineering fields, as well as many graphic artists whose work doesn’t necessarily demand the highest level of CAD workstation performance. But it won’t cut the mustard when it comes to hands-on, in the trenches CAD work. Essentially, it’s an upgrade from a desktop PC, and a downgrade from a full size, high powered CAD workstation.

For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD. Get useful information and helpful advice on the latest products and trends today at


Click to access Precision-Tower-T1700-Workstation-Spec-Sheet.pdf