I am responsible for our SolidWorks installations and my users are not happy about the performance we are getting in SolidWorks 2009.
Our current Workstations are getting a bit long in the tooth and I am looking to upgrade.
The current machine specs are:
3.4Ghz P4 HT/Core2 Duo 1.8Ghz.
512Mb nVidia Quadro FX1700
7200RPM SATA HD's.
SolidWorks 2009 SP4.
We are using PDM Workgroup for document management.
We are looking for machines that will provide a decent increase in performance, and are capable of working on global assemblies with up to around 1500 or so sub-assemblies.
So, I am particularly interested in people experience of what affects performance the most, so I can spec up some machines without getting into diminishing returns and spending vast sums for little improvement in return.
1) I think for the time being, we would like to stick with Windows XP, as it is a decent, mature operating system. I have installed XP64 on some of the current machines and the feedback has been that it is much faster for checking in/out of PDM, (Maybe 5 minutes vs. 25 minutes for a large GA.) and noticeably faster for general manipulation of assemblies. Is Windows 7 x64 any better than XP64?
2) CPU Cores vs. Clockspeed? What operations in SolidWorks are actually multi-threaded? Would you recommend fast dual core vs. a slower clocked quad core? Is SolidWorks optimised towards either AMD or Intel CPU's or are they roughly equal? Are Workstation chips (Xeon vs. i7, Phenom vs. Opteron) worth the extra money or is it better to buy a higher clocked mainstream chip?
3) Ram? This is something I have been unable to experiment with our current machines. They are based on 1st generation 64bit hardware and has a 32bit memory controler so even with XP64, you still have a 4GB limit and hardware devices take a chunk of this too. The highest amount of usable memory is around 2.6Gb and there is no way to map devices to >4gb.
What sort of amount should we be aiming for? I am thinking around 6-8Gb. Does this sound reasonable?
4) Finally, graphics cards. We are currently using 512Mb Quadro FX1700's. When we bought them, they were recommended as a good bang-for-buck mid-range card. If we bring these over onto the new machines, are they likley to be the bottleneck? If so, what cards should we be looking at? From prior experience, the Quadro cards have been much better than the ATI cards, which took a lot of trying different drivers (certified and later drivers) to find a stable one.
Sorry for a lot of questions. I am just trying to get a feel for what we should be buying. I am about to recomend spending quite a lot of someone elses money so I need to know it will be well spent!!! :-)