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Advanced Discussion on Hardware and Performance

Question asked by Chris Lincoln on Mar 28, 2009
Latest reply on Apr 1, 2009 by Joe Rochinski

I am IT for a manufacturing company, that employs 12 dedicated mechanical engineers. I need some solid feedback on hardware and performance, most of my engineers complain of perpetual instability, slow performance, etc.. We have been using SolidWorks since 2001Plus, currently on 2009 SP2.0.

All of our engineering files are kept on the network. I have a dedicated file server that has two gigabit NICs bound together (with Intel's utility), and the server is connected to an external 7 hard disk RAID-5 array via fiber (love my Apple XServe RAID!). The engineers and the server are connected to a gigabit switch with CAT-6 wiring.

The individual engineers are identically configured (only difference is 3 systems have a different motherboard):

Intel Core 2 Duo 3.0Ghz
4gb RAM
PNY Quadro FX1700
Raptor 15k RPM hard drives
XP 32-bit (except the lead engineer, we're experimenting with him on XP 64)
Approved nVidia drivers from SW website

They were custom built by me, to lower the cost from purchasing a Dell or HP highend workstation.

Most tech support calls go through the usual BS, virtual file size checks, driver version checks, etc and usually don't find problems.

I've considered going quad core, but its my understanding that SolidWorks really only utilizes a single core, occasionally going to a second if that function allows (like Cosmos analysis, which we don't do). What about Xeon? Or Core i7?

The engineering manager would like to try a "SolidWorks Approved" sort of workstation from HP or Dell or whomever. Do they really provide some sort of hardware optimization or SolidWorks-optimized OS image? Or is it all marketing hooey?

I'm at a loss as to how to improve the overall experience for my users. Is there some gaping hole I am missing? My users complain of multiple crashes in a day (everything from 'out of memory' errors to generic application crashes), slow file and render operations, lags, etc.