Posts Tagged ‘Revit’

Recommended Hardware for CAD, Part 1: AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit and Other Autodesk Applications

September 19, 2012 3 comments

Here at CADspeed, we get a lot of questions about buying new hardware for CAD applications. While the answer to, “What CAD hardware should I buy?” varies widely based on the person asking the question, it always starts in the same place: with the requirements of the CAD software you plan to use.

Yet a list of minimum requirements can be, well, only minimally helpful in the quest for the right CAD workstation. Most CAD users need hardware that will not just meet the minimum specifications, but enable them to maximize their productivity.

CAD software developers know this, and they have a vested interest in making sure you get the bang for your software buck. So this series will explore recommended hardware for a variety of common CAD applications from the makers of the applications themselves.


We start this series with Autodesk, creator of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software that includes some of the most commonly used applications in the industry. Autodesk has developed a web site to help users find certified or recommended software for Autodesk applications.

The truth is, however, many CAD users don’t use just one CAD software application. It’s very common to use both AutoCAD and Revit on the same system, for example. The intriguing part of the Autodesk hardware site is you can select multiple products and find the common driver and hardware configurations that will work best for your system.

Autodesk Certified and Recommended Hardware

Select up to three Autodesk products to find the best hardware configuration for you.

Certified vs. Recommended

On the Autodesk website, you’ll see two terms that you need to understand: certified and recommended. “Certified” hardware meets Autodesk’s minimum hardware requirements for the applicable Autodesk software product. At least one configuration (e.g., GPU + driver, or CPU + GPU + RAM + HD + BIOS) has passed tests designed to verify that the hardware supports the product’s features.

“Recommended” hardware meets Autodesk’s recommended system requirements for the applicable Autodesk product. At least one configuration has passed tests designed to verify that the hardware supports the product’s features.

A “Recommended” or “Certified” rating is based on the test results for a graphics card and driver or a complete system. Clicking the link for a card or system will reveal the results of each individual component tests.

Icon Rating Description*

Recommended – Meets Autodesk’s recommended system requirements and has passed all Autodesk certification tests.

Certified – Meets Autodesk’s minimum system requirements and has passed all Autodesk certification tests.
Icon Component Test Results*

Passed – When tested with this configuration, the hardware passed testing.

Passed with issues – When tested with this configuration, the hardware has some minor problems or features that are not supported.

Failed – When tested with this configuration, the hardware does not adequately support the product’s features.

No Results – This configuration has not been tested by the associated product.

* Test results are valid only for the tested combination of hardware and driver. Certified or Recommended status does not guarantee that the graphics hardware will operate acceptably with other drivers or configurations. Driver-specific test results are available for some hardware and can be found by clicking on a product name in the Hardware List.

Other Terms to Understand

Before using the Autodesk Certified Hardware site, you should understand a few other common terms to make sure you are getting the right results.


  • Workstation—Graphics hardware designated by the manufacturer as workstation-grade, typically meaning it is designed to work with 3D CAD applications
  • Consumer—Graphics hardware designated by the manufacturer for desktop or gaming level use, typically meaning it is not designed or recommended for use with 3D CAD applications
  • Mobile—Integrated hardware normally found in laptops.


  • Workstation Desktop—Desktop system designated by the manufacturer as workstation-grade, typically meaning it is designed to work with 3D CAD applications
  • Workstation Laptop—Laptop designated by the manufacturer as workstation-grade, typically meaning it is designed to work with 3D CAD applications
  • Consumer Desktop—Desktop system designated by the manufacturer for desktop or gaming level use, typically meaning it is not designed or recommended for use with 3D CAD applications
  • Consumer Laptop—Laptop designated by the manufacturer for desktop or gaming level use, typically meaning it is not designed or recommended for use with 3D CAD applications.
  • Tablet—Touch-screen device with integrated components.

The Hardware List page contains only the hardware products that Autodesk has tested for use with certain Autodesk applications. Autodesk tests a variety of hardware, but focuses primarily on hardware the manufacturer has indicated is workstation-grade and designed to work with 3D CAD applications.

Unless otherwise noted, Autodesk hardware certification tests are run on systems containing a single video card with a single monitor attached. Autodesk does not currently run certification tests on systems with multiple graphics cards installed or multiple monitors.

Author: CADspeed Editors

Optimizing Your Revit Workstation for Point Clouds

July 25, 2012 3 comments

Reality capture is a boom business for the building industry. With roughly 5 million existing commercial buildings in the United States alone, it’s easy to understand why. Laser-scanner-based reality capture is the dominant methodology used today to accurately capture the 3D state of an existing building. However, the typical laser-scan-based point cloud is in the hundreds of millions of 3D points, sometimes even going into the billions of points. With this additional data overhead on top of an already dense Building Information Model, it’s important to optimize your workstation hardware to deliver a productive user experience.

Point Clouds in Autodesk Revit 2013

Point Clouds in Autodesk Revit 2013

Finding the Bottleneck

Under the hood, Autodesk Revit utilizes the PCG point cloud engine to rapidly access the 3D points contained in point cloud and retrieve points to be displayed in the current Revit View.  Since the typical point cloud dataset is so large, a workstation’s RAM is insufficient to be used as the means for access by the PCG engine in Revit.  Instead, the disk drive is used for access, while a small amount of System RAM and Video RAM is used for the current Revit View.  Thus, the hard drive is commonly the limiting factor for point cloud performance, rather than system RAM, CPU, or GPU.

Learn the Options

With data access a common limiting factor to the performance of the Revit point cloud experience, let’s discuss the options available to deliver the best experience. There are two primary types that are found today: spinning platter and solid-state drives.

  • Spinning platter drives are the traditional hard drive technology, and are found in most computers today, as they deliver the best balance of storage capacity, read/write access speed, and cost.
  • Solid-state drives (SSDs) are relatively new technology, contain no moving parts, and are generally much faster at reading and writing data than typical spinning platter drives.

In a structured comparison completed by the Revit product team, we found the following results when comparing typical versions of these Disk Drive types:

Revit Point Cloud Performance Comparison

Revit Point Cloud Performance Comparison

Reap the Benefits

Based upon this investigation, we would highly recommend that those looking to optimize their Revit workstations for point cloud use install an SSD for at least the local storage of the point cloud data.  While you will also achieve additional benefits from running the entire OS on your SSD, a significant performance boost can be achieved through the retrofit of a ~$200 SSD to an existing workstation.

Author: Kyle Bernhardt, Product Line Manager, Autodesk Building Design Suite

Use of Point Clouds for Revit Modeling

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Here at CADspeed, we’ve touted the need for CAD hardware that will get the job done. We are equally intrigued by the growing use of building information modeling (BIM) in our industry, which requires even more hardware capacity and usage power than standard CAD programs. But could new technology expand the power of BIM to those of us with hardware budgets?

Longitude Media, publisher of Cadalyst, announced today that it will host a free webcast for Autodesk Revit users and managers to discuss the benefits of using 3D scanning and point cloud models in a Revit-based design workflow. The live presentation, titled “Optimize the Use of Point Clouds for Revit Modeling,” will be sponsored by Leica Geosystems, developer of the CloudWorx Revit plug-in tool for point-cloud processing.

Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Time: 1 p.m. ET

To Register:

Building information modeling (BIM) offers tremendous advantages for today’s AEC firms, and using point cloud models of as-built structures is an ideal option for those who want to accelerate the design process for renovations and retrofits while increasing accuracy and cutting costs. Until now, however, the options for creating Revit BIM models from point clouds have been limited and inefficient. With the introduction of Leica CloudWorx for Revit, all that is changing. Leica CloudWorx for Revit allows users to quickly and easily create BIM deliverables of existing construction based on rich data collected by 3D laser scanners — all within the familiar Revit environment.

In “Optimize the Use of Point Clouds for Revit Modeling,” attendees will learn about the basics of 3D laser scanning of as-built structures, how to prepare point cloud models, and how to optimize the use of point clouds within a Revit workflow. A live demo of Leica CloudWorx for Revit will offer a first-hand look at the unique features and benefits of the plug-in, and a Q&A session will allow attendees to ask questions of the expert panel.

Moderator: CADspeed‘s own Curt Moreno, CAD manager and blogger, of Kung Fu Drafter

Panelist: Ben Bennett, Chief Technology Officer at Digital Digital Surveys Ltd and subsidiary service eBIM Ltd

Panelist: Jason Waddell, BIM manager at The Beck Group and a Leica CloudWorx for Revit customer

Panelist: David Langley, application engineer at Leica Geosystems and manager of development of Leica CloudWorx for Revit

Check it out! We’ll be there too. Register now at

Troubleshoot Video Card and Driver Warnings in Revit

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Many users may not realize that Revit has two graphic systems supporting model display.

OpenGL is a software graphics system incorporated into Revit to control display in a variety of Windows OS environments. Since the OpenGL system uses the workstation’s CPU rather than the video card graphics processor (GPU), broad OS and video card compatibility comes at the cost of slower performance and the display of some graphic effects. Revit can use OpenGL regardless of the video system available, but some features, such as Realistic views, will be disabled.

Revit’s second graphics system is known within Autodesk as OGS, or “One Graphic System.” In a number of Autodesk products, this is used to standardize the interface between design software and graphics display. OGS takes full advantage of compatible video hardware to greatly increase graphics performance over OpenGL’s software-only approach, accelerating pan, rotate, and zoom operations because the display updates have been delegated to the video card GPU. Complex Revit model displays will take advantage of more video card memory. So, consider an amount of memory for your card in the 1GB to 2GB range.

The definition of “compatible” video hardware is the most common customer issue involving OGS in Revit. In order to get the best performance out of a workstation, Revit tests the computing environment during startup, checking the video card and driver for compatibility.

Resulting warnings largely fall into these categories:

Revit doesn’t recognize your video card or driver:
Revit Video Card Error Message

The “Problem” message could indicate that:

  • The Revit team hasn’t tested this video card and cannot assure it will function properly (or at all).
  • You have a “gaming” card unsupported by the hardware manufacturer for CAD or BIM applications.
  • The Revit team hasn’t tested the video driver and can’t assure it will work. Graphics issues caused by this mismatch may be addressed by switching to the supported driver.
    • To solve persistent graphics issues, you may have to disable Hardware Acceleration in the Options dialog.
  • The local hardware certification file may be obsolete

Revit encountered an unresolvable problem:
Revit Video Card Error Message

  • The Revit team found that your video card, driver–or both—destabilize Revit or…
  • Your DirectX install is corrupt or incomplete.
  • Revit encountered some other graphics problem.
    • Revit will disable Hardware Acceleration.

Graphics display can be an important performance consideration. Check for the latest list of tested video cards and drivers here.

Author: Anthony A. Hauck, Revit Senior Product Line Manager, Autodesk AEC Solutions Division

Calculate How Much RAM Memory You Need for Autodesk Revit 2011

April 8, 2011 6 comments

Autodesk Revit 2011 optimized file loading by using multiple CPU threads to transfer model data to RAM; maximizing the use of computational resources required to open a model. Since the slowest performing hardware in a computer is often static data storage, usually a hard drive, Revit employs an “in memory” data model, taking advantage of much faster RAM to manage the model in an editing session. Due to the constricted performance represented by hard drive access, it is recommended, that whenever possible, to prevent the underlying Windows operating system (OS) from caching active model data to the hard drive.

To understand how much RAM a given model will use in a typical editing session, check the size of the RVT file on disk. Because an RVT file on disk is highly compressed, loading the model into memory requires an expansion process. As a result, Revit uses roughly 6 times as much RAM as the size of the RVT file on disk. As users open views, add and change elements, additional expansion takes place, typically topping out at a memory use of approximately 20 times the RVT’s size on disk. These factors can vary with the complexity of the model, but often they provide good guidelines to understand how a Revit model will reside in RAM. Looking at a common workstation configuration with 8GB of RAM, we can calculate the approximate size of a model that can reside in memory:

8GB – 1GB (OS) – 1GB (video and other drivers) = 6GB / 20 = ~300 MB model on disk

Different modeling techniques can vary the division factor of 20 somewhat, but in general this formula provides a good guideline to understand when you’d expect a model to perform optimally through complete memory residency.

One exception to this rule occurs on Revit model upgrade, say from Revit 2011 to Revit 2012. Where a typical editing session will only require the expansion of some elements of the model, an upgrade requires the expansion of all model elements, resulting in higher memory use or increased swapping to hard drive by the OS. For this reason, the one-time upgrade operation requires more processing time than subsequent file opens.

Considering the inevitable trade-offs when specifying a new workstation, maximum performance can be achieved by including enough RAM to fully load a typical model into memory, enabling Revit to take the best advantage of the Windows platform.

Author: Anthony A. Hauck, Revit Senior Product Line Manager, Autodesk AEC Solutions Division