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Most of you probably know that on Windows 32-bit, each process (exe) has access to only half (2GB) of the maximum possible of 4GB "addressable memory" and the other half is reserved by the OS kernel (more background on this here). So when memory intensive applications like SolidWorks start reaching the 2GB addressable limit, the obvious reaction is why does the OS need as much as half the address space. Greedy Windows, you think.


You start Googling around or someone recommends using this magic switch Windows has that lets you increase the available address space to 3GB. That's better - take that, Windows. Now you can open and create larger assemblies and drawings than you could before. Fast forward to a few months later - you're starting to see the pinch in performance with your increasingly larger designs. You already have 4GB physical RAM on your 32-bit OS, so the only possible quick avenue of a performance boost (short of a full system upgrade) is to upgrade your graphics card.


So you spend time researching, spend money on the best graphics card for your money, install the latest and greatest certified drivers. Since you're in a bit of downtime, you might also install the latest system upgrades and SolidWork service pack. You can't wait to get back on your project.


Except - disaster. SolidWorks is now crashing randomly. How can that be ? You have the best card - everybody on the forum and your VAR said so, you have the latest certified drivers, the latest system updates, the latest SW service pack... Ah - that must be it. The latest service pack must be the fault. So you go back to your old service pack. But the crashes continue. Stupid software - hosed my machine again, you say. Your project is now way behind schedule and you have a bitter taste in your mouth.


What exactly happened here ?


Think back to when you turned on the /3GB switch. It's not usually very well understood, even among software developers (because most software developers operate in the "user address space", not the "kernel driver space"), what the reserved kernel address range is for. It is required for mapping all the devices, drivers and device memory you have on your system. This is colloquially known as the PCI memory hole.


On a test machine which has a mid-range workstation graphics card with 512 MB video RAM, the memory holes the PCI / AGP buses and the video card resources take up a total of 1334MB.


Now think back to that super duper video card you bought with 1 GB of VRAM - after that upgrade, Windows probably ran out of kernel addresses to map the device resources to. So smaller assemblies/drawings work fine, but when you start going up in usage of graphics card memory, it can lead to unpredictable behavior, i.e. random crashes.


So why did Microsoft introduce this /3GB switch in the first place ?


It was originally introduced for server-based processes such as SQL server or Exchange server and the like, before 64-bit became the common platform it is today. The key point here is that these server-based processes are CPU/RAM-intensive, but not device-intensive and especially not graphics card-intensive. So the server hardware doesn't have the devices that need the kernel-reserved addresses. In this case, it is indeed "greedy Windows" and the /3GB switch works well here. Of course, today no respectable IT admin would run a 32-bit server anyway, so this is no longer an issue. In fact, even at a consumer level you'd have to go to a lot of trouble to buy a new machine with 32-bit Windows. At a SolidWorks-user level, more users use 64-bit than 32-bit today.


So do yourself a favor - push the right buttons to upgrade to 64-bit. But if you can't upgrade right away for whatever reason, at least don't use the /3GB switch as a stop-gap.

I was reading an article posted on the Microsoft's site about "5 ways to speed up your PC" and wanted to add some comments:


  • System Maintenance- If you aren't doing this today, you should be. The items listed (i.e., temp clean up, defrag, disk errors) are all good, sound practices that help insure your system run efficiently. Also of note here is that system maintenance is not a one time thing. Create a scheduled task (it's Windows feature) that runs these utilities on a regular, scheduled basis. SolidWorks Rx does all of this for you (see next topic).  
    For more information seeImprove reliability and performance through routine system maintenance (subscription service access required).


  • SolidWorks Rx- There is tab within SolidWorks Rx that performs the valuable tasks described within Microsoft's article and also some additional SolidWorks aware cleanup.
  • Readyboost- I personally would never recommend using non-volatile flash memory as a replacement for adding more RAM to your system. As a CAD user, you need to insure you have enough RAM, and an operating system that can address it, to do your job. If you need access more than 2GB of RAM for all applications you have running, a 32bit operating system will not need your needs. More on this topic later...


A CAD workstation gets pushed hard and needs proper care. If you aren't doing some this today, check out this article or just open SolidWorks Rx and setup regular system maintenance on your computer.

This article describes the information behind the Graphics Card Drivers page. This page is used to help you find the right graphics card driver for your system to insure system performance and stability. SolidWorks tests and certifies graphics card driver for each version of SolidWorks and supported Operating Systems.


The difficult part of determining the "correct" driver for your system is that it is dependant on whether your graphics card came from a computer system vendor, or if it was purchased separately. The system vendor do not always use the same or latest version from the graphics card manufacturer. The other issue is your system/graphics card/operating system/SolidWorks version combination may not be one the certified list.


Using the Site:

There are two main options for displaying driver results; list system by computer vendor (if your graphics card came with you system), or browse for graphics cards because you purchased your graphics card separately or your system combination is not listed on the pull-down list when browsing by computer vendor.


After you have selected computer vendor, additional selections are displayed and you can either display all valid combinations or continue to filter by selecting computer model, graphics card model, operating system, and SolidWorks version.


If you are just browsing graphics cards, or your system is not listed, select Any System Vendor from the Computer Vendor list and then you can select a graphics card vendor and model.



When the results are displayed, there is a key at the bottom of the results describing the test results. If a card has limitations or notes they will be indicated within the results.


The limitations is with cards which have programmable shader capabilities but are not up to handling all of the features used by RealView. Most often, features are backed off due to performance (i.e., self-shadows and/or reflections). The pre-2008 is for cards which we used prior to SolidWorks 2008 with RealView, but cannot be used for the newer features. These would be limited to only visual effects which can be done with OpenGL environment textures.


I have been running Windows 7 since early September. I have to admit, I think it's a very sturdy OS. About a year ago, I installed and ran Vista for about a month and eventually went back to XP because I was running into more problems than solutions. On top of that, I figured that since Microsoft announced the launch of W7 in 2008, I figured I could tough it out for a year or so. This time around, about 2.5 months into it, I'm keeping W7 and XP is good only for the mothballs.


But the problem I got when poking at W7 was which graphics driver should I use and where to get it? The problem is worse with laptops - I have a Dell Precision M90 laptop, with the NVIDIA Quadro FX 3500M graphics - as they get "obsolete" very quickly. Mine is only 2-3 years old.


When looking into Dell's W7 Hardware Compatibility support page (, I realized that they categorized their systems as either "Compatible" or "Tested". What does it mean?


  • Compatible means W7 will run on the system and that drivers made specifically for W7 are available
  • Tested means W7 will run on the system but no guarantee that you will get W7 drivers for everything


So if your system falls into the "Tested" category (like my M90), what should you do? Actually, Dell's recommendation is: if you can't find a W7 driver, use the Vista driver! Ok, but whre should I get it from? Dell, NVIDIA or somewhere else?


So I finally went circles and came back to the SW driver support page, downloaded the driver for my system under Vista and installed it. It's been running good with the exception that I get a few screen flickers when opening new windows or applications but everything runs OK in SW. Although not officially supported, I think this might be the best compromise without buying a new laptop and still have an up-to-date, faster OS on your system.




PS: Luckily, if you have a desktop, you will most likely not run into this situation since drivers are more easily available. And if you do, you can always swap out the video card for a newer model.

One of the features of Windows 7 I originally did not take to was the changes made to the Windows Explorer. I always used to the navigation area on the left side to jump quickly between different areas (directories).


As you can see below, the left side no longer has the tree display for you disk or network drive. I had completely missed the arrow to the right of each item in the top user bar. When this arrow is selected the drives or directories available are displayed. It's an easy and simple means to jump around without having a huge tree display shown in the left navigation. And it also only shows the items at that level to keep the length of the list shorter.





Copyright © 2009 Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. All rights reserved.
Do not distribute or reproduce without the written consent of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.
Greg Jankowski

Windows 7 is here...

Posted by Greg Jankowski Employee Oct 22, 2009

Happy Windows 7 launch day!


I thought I would share some of my observations and a few additional references for your review. I have been using Windows 7 for day to day use since the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) version was available and also kicked the tires during beta.


The good:

  • Outside of the fact you need to back your data up (always a good thing) and re-install any additional applications, I have never seen a smoother, easier update for a Windows operating system. It all just worked.
  • I have both 32 and 64 versions installed on my two machines and I have noticed no difference in setting up the systems. This is a stark contrast to my experiences with 64 bit versions of XP and Vista.
  • All, not some, of the users I know that have swtiched to Windows 7 have had great experiences so far.
  • The interface looks good without noticable performance overhead. I really do like the Aero themes.
  • I never had a good appreciation of how many things just didn't work well with Vista. Win 7 has many examples of features I either had issues with in Vista or now have a better appreciation for when they work correctly in Win 7.
  • UAC (User Access Control) is one of those things where it now works as I would like it to; namely tell me when the computer really needs to, not every time I almost anything. Telling tale here is I have left my UAC setting as-is to date. It took me less than 1/2 hour for Vista.
  • Desktop gadgets are no longer restricted to a pre-defined area so you can add gadgets to your desktop where ever you want.
  • Boot process is faster. I can get working faster.
  • XP mode. If you have old applications that need an older OS to run, use XP mode to run a virtulalized version of XP on your Windows 7 computer.
  • Better memory management and exception handling. More on both of these items in another post.
  • Many, many others...



The so-so:

  • The taskbar takes some getting use to. I ended up turning this features back to a more XP/Vista like experience, but I now have turned this back to the default Windows 7 behavior. It's different and I am stilling trying to find out what ends up being more effective. I often have too many applications and windows open at the same time.
  • Mapping non-domain drives. Picky, but I spent more time than I wanted to trying to figure this one out (I used the Net Use command).




Overall my experience over the last month with Windows 7 has been great. I have not been, or have seen, this much excitement and positive buzz around a Microsoft operating system since Windows 95.


Other notes:

  • When choosing between variants (see you need to determine the product (Home premium, Professional, and Ultimate) and whether to use 32 or 64 bit.
  • When choosing between 32 or 64 bit, I believe it still comes down to how much memory do you use. In XP and Vista, I always told users (and the system requirements state the same thing) that if you use more than 2GB or memory for your applications, you should be used a 64 bit version of the operating system. (more one this to come later).
  • SolidWorks 2010 will officially support Windows 7 at SP1.



Additional references:



Copyright © 2009 Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. All rights reserved.
Do not distribute or reproduce without the written consent of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.

The SolidWorks System Requirements page has been updated for the upcoming release of SolidWorks 2010. The Operating System changes include the following:


1)   Adding Support for Windows 7 - SolidWorks products will run on Microsoft Windows 7 operating system starting with the 2010 release.  Microsoft’s published shipment date for Windows 7 is Oct 22nd.  Thus, the earliest version of SolidWorks 2010 products that can run on the Windows 7 operating system will be SP1.

2)   Windows XP - Microsoft officially retired Windows XP in April of this year.  SolidWorks 2010 will be the last release to support both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows XP. SolidWorks 2011 products will run on Windows Vista and Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit versions) only. 

For details, visit

The SOLIDWORKS Installation Manager performs a number of purposes;

  • Identifies what software and version(s) are installed.
  • Checks for updates to installed software.
  • Identifies required system pre-requisites needed.
  • Accelerate the download process.
  • Support for downloading software only and off-hours.
  • Identify the required items for a safe, manual download.
  • and more...


Whether you choose not to use the automated process within the SOLIDWORKS Installation Manager or you have proxy or Internet connection issues, the only safe means to manually download and update SOLIDWORKS is using Installation Manager assisted manual downloads.


The SolidWorks Installation Manager will insure that system pre-requisites are installed and up-to-date. The SOLIDWORKS Installation Manager ensures you do not exclude required prerequisites that can impact a successful installation and program stability.


To manually download files using the SOLIDWORKS 2019 Installation Manager (IM)

  1. Start the Installation Manager (IM)
  2. Select 'Download and share all files. Create individual installs or administrative images on multiple machines with a single download'.
  3. Enter the serial numbers for your selected products. 
  4. Review the system check warnings before continuing. Click Next.
  5. On the Summary page, click on 'Change'

    Specify your desired download folder if necessary.

    Under 'Additional Options', enable the option 'Conduct manual download- Use this option if you have trouble downloading automatically' if necessary.
  6. click 'Back to Summary'.
  7. Accept the SOLIDWORKS License Agreement terms and click on Download Now.

  8.  Select 'Click here for manual download'. You will be redirected to a SOLIDWORKS webpage which lists the files you need. Follow the instructions on this SOLIDWORKS webpage.

  9. Download each file listed

  10. Save files to this the download location you specified in step 7
  11. Go back to the Installation Manager and click Next. The IM will verify the file and start the installation.


Also see the Anti-Virus and Installation blog post for information on installation and anti-virus.


Using the Installation Manager is the only safe means to insure you have a valid installation.

The use of an anti-virus applications, and keeping it up-to-date, is vital to maintaining a safe computing environment.


Often I have heard discussions of whether anti-virus software should be turned off during installation. To address this we created a page

( listing anti-virus applications we test during the installation and usage of SolidWorks.


For any application listed:

  • We test to insure the version listed will install with no issues.
  • Insure there are no issues with normal usage.
  • If there are any issues, we will list the relevant issues and SPRs (Bugs) within the notes area.
  • If the application shows as passed, you do not have to turn off your anti-virus application during the installation, and subsequent reboot, of SolidWorks.


For any application not listed:

  • You may need to temporarily disable anti-virus during install and re-boot (see the advisory note on the website).



Not all anti-virus applications are the same. Look for, and test, the performance of your application when opening a large number of file or very large files. The anti-virus application will scan each file as they are opened. While it would never be a good idea to turn of your anti-virus application to increase performance, you may want to consider excluding .sldprt, .sldasm, and .slddrw file types from the open file scan. These files could be scanned on your local computer and/or server off-hours. Discuss the risks and options with your IT or system administrator.


Also see Manual Downloads and the SolidWorks Installation Manager for additional installation related tips.