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!
All of these benefits are driving the PC market to embrace 64-bit operating systems like never before. Last year the Windows Blog reported the installed was approaching 50% and NPD recently reported that over 75% of computer systems on retail shelves were being sold with some flavor of Windows 7 64-bit pre-installed. All of this makes it clear that the 32-bit OS is a thing of the past and prime for extinction soon.
The best way to future-proof that Civil 3D workstation for tomorrow is to recognize this trend and migrate to 64-bit today!
Benefits versus Costs
Since almost any new CAD system you order from a big manufacturer will come preloaded with Windows 7 64-bit, the real decision lies in updating your old systems. Costs for licenses will vary depending on your software source and your licensing relationship with Microsoft. But it is safe to assume that the change will cost a few hundred dollars to install Windows 7 64-bit on each machine.
While that may seem like a hard pill to swallow consider this: Assume a man year is over 2000 hours. Billing at an average rate of $60/hour, if your employees could improve renderings, processing, and files open/save procedures to save just one minute per hour that would equate to $2000 of billable time a year! That means your 64-bit investment would pay for itself in a single year! Now those are numbers worth taking to the boss.
If after all of this you are still set on keeping your old, tired 32-bit system, we understand. Change is scary. Drop us an email and let us know how things are back in the 1990s. You can address it to “the future of Civil 3D.” We’d love to hear from you.
Author: Curt Moreno
We’ve been discussing Civil 3D and other CAD applications up to this point. But the average CAD workstation has to do so much more than CAD. Well if you are running a 64-bit operating system you are going to see benefits in these non-CAD tasks also.
Thanks to the aforementioned improvements in memory and computational management, even the most boring tasks will be improved. For instance Microsoft Office Excel will be able to open massive workbook faster and easier since it no longer has to break the data into “manageable” 2GB chunks. Microsoft Project will handle huge projects with greater ease and fewer stalls/crashes when multiple sub-projects are involved. Adobe Photoshop will render and perform file open/save functions much faster. And that is just to name a few of the great things that 64-bit operating systems can do.
But if CAD is really all you are concerned with then here is the best news of all. Many modern CAD applications are available in native 64-bit versions. These newly improved releases sport better reliability, data management, and memory utilization. What does that all mean? It means you will be rocking you CAD drawings at maximum velocity!
Next, we’ll sell it to your boss.
Author: Curt Moreno
Like the idea, but need a bit more information? Good. No one likes a sheep unless you need a sweater or are making kabobs. Let’s look at some reasons why Win7 64-bit is the way to go if you are doing some serious Civil 3D work.
We can separate the big boys from the posers with one question: Do you want to get as much value as possible from your workstation investment? If the answer is yes, then you have to take a serious look at Win7 64-bit. Civil 3D workstations are capable of some amazing things with new releases of software becoming more and more powerful. But if you want those point clouds and massive topo surfaces to render as quickly as possible, you need to give your workstation room to work. That means bringing as much RAM to the table as possible.
Old-fashioned 32-bit systems (even Win7 32-bit) have a measly 4GB maximum of possible RAM and only a little of 3GB of that will be available to Civil 3D! This creates a processing bottleneck that will slow down your system and make you wonder why you even upgraded your Civil 3D. Modern 64-bit systems operate with a MINIMUM 4GB requirement and go upwards of 128GB and more, depending on your OS choice! The processing difference between 4GB on 32-bit and, say, 16GB on 64-bit is like night and day. This will give you more value from the same hardware investment.
Each new release of Civil 3D and most CAD applications bring new and improved capabilities. From grater surface detail to larger and larger point clouds, all of these features are welcome with open arms by users. But these great new features also bring more processing overhead to CAD workstations that may already struggling. Older systems running 32-bit operating systems will show their age as these new features require greater amounts of memory, faster processing and longer rendering times.
By contrast, CAD workstations sporting modern 64-bit operating systems are ready for these challenges. As mentioned before, a 64-bit operating systems is nearly limitless in the amount of RAM it can apply to complicated tasks. But in addition to raw RAM, a 64-bit operating system using RAM more efficiently in its memory allocation and computational processing. This means that meg for meg, a 64-bit workstation manages its processor and RAM more efficiently than its older 32-bit counterpart!
Wait, there’s more. Upgrading to a 64-bit operating system affects your non-CAD tasks as well. We’ll talk about that topic next time!
Author: Curt Moreno
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
With any design program, no matter how novice or experienced you may be, you’re probably prone to making the occasional error. Start off the right way by checking the basic system recommendations before installing Vectorworks CAD software. System requirements can be found on the Nemetschek Vectorworks website. Also spend some time learning how you can optimize your desktop or workstation and get the most out of your Vectorworks experience.
With Vectorworks software, users at all levels have very likely made some common mistakes. All of them are related to settings and shortcuts that are intended to make design work faster and more enjoyable, but for the uninformed user these shortcuts can also cause some frustration. But fear not—they are all very easy to remedy.
Problems with Plug-Ins
Vectorworks is rich in plug-in objects, such as doors and windows, which help users efficiently place intelligent objects in their designs. However, if you’re not familiar with these plug-ins, you might find difficulty inserting doors and windows into your walls. This is because these objects have ‘modes’ which provide several additional controls when using the tools. If a door or window isn’t inserting, it may be because “Wall Insertion Mode” has been accidentally turned off, thus preventing you from inserting doors/windows into walls. It’s simple to fix. Just enable the Wall Insertion Mode by clicking on the icon in the mode bar.
Skittish Selection Tool
Have you ever run into a problem where you suddenly can’t use your selection tool to resize something? If you’re like most users, you probably have. Just like our first common mistake, this behavior is caused by accidentally enabling a mode in the mode bar. In this case, you have enabled the mode “Disable Interactive Scaling,” which means you’re no longer able to interactively re-size an object with the selection tool. Again, this has a simple fix. With the selection tool selected, simply click on the Disable Interactive Scaling button in the mode bar to turn it off.
Cursor Cue Concerns
Keyboard shortcuts can be a very wonderful thing. Once you learn them, they save you time and dramatically improve your drafting/modeling efficiency. But, as helpful as they can be, these shortcuts can sometimes lead to errors. For example, you may have experienced suddenly losing all your SmartCursor Cues (visual screen hints that appear when hovering over specific points of objects, such as endpoint, center, midpoint, etc.). The cause of this sudden loss of cues is quite simple. You’ve likely accidentally hit the “Y” key, which has disabled your cursor cues. The quick fix for this? Hit the “Y” key again.
I hope these tips will help you avoid some of the common mistakes users make and allow you to maximize your efficiency when working with Vectorworks. For more Tech Tips, please visit the Vectorworks YouTube Channel.
Author: Juan Almansa, Product Support Manager, Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.
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