15 Replies Latest reply on Jun 10, 2010 10:42 AM by Charles Culp

    System requirements for a simulation desktop

    Andy Krispie

      I need to purchase a new desktop optimized to run SW2010 simulation as my laptop just isn't cutting it.  Models will not be overly complex (50k elements maybe) but I will be running a lot of them and would like to optimize solve time.  Should I give any specific requests to the IT department (minimum RAM/processor speed/GPU), or will any old typical CAD rig do the trick?  I presume that the recommended requirements given on the box are somewhat broad in order to maximize the potential customer base.


      Any suggestions would be appreciated.


        • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
          Joe Grant

          Yes - Definitely give your IT department requirements. I would suggest a 64 bit OS and a fast processor if you plan on running many analysis senarios and would like to cut down on the time it takes to run each study so you can move on to the next. We run the following setup and the only thing I would have done differently is opted for the absolute fastest processor speed instead of the multiple processors.


          Dell T7400

          Dual Quad Core Xeon CPUs @ 3.0 GHz

          8 Gig RAM


          64 Bit OS Win XP

          Video Card NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800

            • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
              Ian Hogg

              I agree with Joe.

              CPU speed is King, but Simulation does take advantage of multiple CPU's for some tasks such as meshing and solving (depending on study type and solver task). Programs are going to take more and more usage of the multiple CPU's over time. Another example if Photoview. It's pretty amazing to see the performance boost of 8 processors rendering the model instead of just 1 or 2. Flow gets a pretty decent time reduction using multiple CPU's as well.


              However if you'r just doing linear static in the 50,000 element range, I'd guess solve time is not your biggest challenge (unless you have lots of bolts). 8Gb of memory should see you through most problems. You could probably get away with 4, but memory is cheap, so give yourself a little room to expand.





              • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
                Bill McEachern

                I would think that Joe's spec is a bit over the top for what you stated as your needs. I have a new HP notebook Elitebook 8540w which has a i7 dual core cpu at 2.667 GHz and with hyper threading runs four threads. It has 4GB or RAM and an FX880 based graphics chipset. It takes about 5 min to run a 2 million DOF problem of all solid tet 10's using the FFE solver. The OS is Win 7 /64 bit (a 64 bit OS is a must and make sure you tell your IT guy that). It costs about $1700. If you are running problems that require the sparse solver though you would want at least 8 GB and 12 GB is pretty cheap on an I7/Xeon 5500 class cpu's (which is what I would recommend you get 4 or 6 core at as fast a speed as you can get/afford)


                If you are working on big assemblies and are not into spending much effort on managing content the system Joe spec'd is probably worth spending the money on though the dual socket aspect is a bit hard to justify unless you are running really big stuff and need 24 GB of RAM and more cores (say a big or multiple flow simulations or big and multiple NL problems). From what you describe you could not build new analysis as fast a the solver could run one so the dual socket thing is a bit questionable in my view - but hey if they are willing to spend it - it is not a bad thing.  If not then a single socket machine with 12 GB or RAM can be had at much lower cost and through the dough at the fastest CPU you can get with as many cores as practicable (4 or 6). I suspect that the FX 4800 provides only marginally better performance over the much less pricey FX 1800 and FX 3000 class boards. Fast discs are decent place to spend dough as well - and 4 x 500 GB raid 0 array would also be handy. The BOXX guys have over clocked systems (>4GHz) on the Extreme edition processors (with full Intel warranties) and you can get them decked out with whatever other stuff you want. They are not cheap though but not psycho either ~ $5k  I would get something quiet as well as sometime the noise of fans can be a bit much - below 30 dB if your space is quiet - especially on the video card. Over ~45 dB is a bit much to be close to day in day out.

              • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
                Charles Culp

                If I were spec'ing a computer for FEA (we use Dell here), I would want a Xeon E5630, or E5640 processor with 12GB RAM, and an nVidia FX 580 video card.


                I don't know if the new ATI video cards are available yet, but once they are I would pick one of those...

                • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
                  Michael Koopman

                  Hope I'm not intruding in your processor requirement focus but doesn't a requirements profile include all resource data? Someone mentioned the tiers in a series of Dell architectures as less then desired. I find that SolidWorks Simulation requires a tremendous additional amount of file space and disk resources as compared to the Cosmos solver where it originated.


                  Can anyone explain how to reduce the filesize overhead associated with SolidWorks Simulation, or, is it just expected that a Tera- or Peta-byte disk availability is a given?


                  - Thanks,



                    • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
                      Bill McEachern

                      depends what you are doing and what you think is big. If you are running complex NL dynamics just even linear dynamics - well it is a lot of data - I have done simple ones that yield 25 GB of data in a few hours for not much in the way of real time - like milliseconds. Nobody typically keeps these files for very long. Once the report is done they are usually toasted. If you need them again you re run the analysis. A few terabytes is usually enough system disc space.


                      I don't think the solver evolution is the cause of any increase in file size over the "Cosmos" versions. they are the same solvers evolved somewhat as far as I know. The default options on what to save may have been changed to save more data but they are configurable provided you know what you need. Maybe some one closer to the action could confirm this or clarify things further.

                    • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
                      Andy Krispie

                      Some good tips, thanks for the suggestions folks

                        • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
                          Charles Culp

                          Also, I almost forgot. With Simulation you will do quite a bit of writing to the hard drive. I suggest a Western Digital Raptor series drive (10k RPM). The new Solid-State drives are the bee's knees (see the other thread specifically about them), and are even faster.


                          Since they are so expensive, get a Raptor as your primary drive with a couple hundred GBs, then a cheaper drive to hold all the data.

                        • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
                          Paul Mihala

                          The 64 bit system a must just for the higher ram capabilities?


                          What if your just doing simple stress analysis, eg. force over an area, with a couple of constraints on a very simple part.


                          Would a 32 bit system be okay for that considering you can only use 3.25gb ram?

                          • Re: System requirements for a simulation desktop
                            Richard Larder

                            I see that Dell has a Sale on for its Studio xps 9000 with 9 Gigabytes of DDR3 Ram and the Intel Core I7 processor but neither the Computer or Video Card is listed on the Solidworks Hardware list.  Does anyone have any experience with this machine or one similar?