Back when I was using MSC/NASTRAN (2001-2005), I found it helpful to have a second hard drive. This needed to be a separate physical hard drive (not a partition). This drive is where I had NASTRAN write all of its data.
The reason for this was so that the analysis data is being written to a drive that is unencumbered with traffic associated with the operating system and other chores.
This definitely helped.
We use dual raid (speed, not for back up) and separate drives for operating system in our current systems. We also have boards with the largest BUS we could find, i understand this helps (somehow!).
lots of cores, faster the better, fast RAM, fast disc and a medium level graphics card in a nut shell.
I run 12 core dual socket (2x6) Xeon with 48GB of non-registered ECC (faster by a clock cycle but this is the most non-registered RAM my system can take but it can take 192GB of registered ECC RAM), I run a SSD storage system that fits into a PCIe slot to get better bandwidth for simulation storage (a revo2 - I hear they aren't that reliable but mine works fine).
30 hours seems like a lot for a flow sim these days. I am usually under a million cells or I simplify it to get it down to that typically but sometime they get big - a few million and they don't take 30 hours - maybe 20.
On the sim side large contact problems can take a while but I did 4MDOF contact problem the other day and it was like 10 hours.
NL problems - I keep them small but hey acn take a while if they get big and hten it is a bit of a crap shoot on whether they solve at all.
Hi Bill, Thank you for your post. I was informed at some point that soldiworks FEA can only handle a certain amount of cores. The systems we have, have 12 cores each and when I look at task manager SW is only using 4-6 of them when performing an FEA analysis.
I have to admit much have what you have posted has gone straight over my head – If you could dumb it down a little (whilst explaining why) that would help me a great deal. We have a tech chap (sub-con), but he does not understand how the software interacts with the hardware. Are there any desktop or rack mounted systems we can buy off the shelf or do we have to have them custom built?
Thank you again for taking your time out to help.
Adrian, first off, if you've been using the software since 1998, you are probably well versed in the simplification of problems. I find that most customers in your situation usually haven't leveraged everything possible from a simplification standpoint before going down the path of upgrading hardware. From my experience, hardware will not provide you orders of magnitude improvements in performance. SolidWorks and the rest of the simulation products have no limits on the number of cores that can be used but from a programming perspective and alos interaction from windows perspective, there is decreasing returns on adding hardware. This can't really be helped.
what you should pull from Bills response is:
1. ssd - you're constantly reading and writing during the simulation process. this is the best and fastest technology you can get right now.
2. ram - have enough that your simulation and anything else running at the time can fit in ram. 16Gb, 24GB, 32GB....whatever you can afford. don't over buy here, there is no point in having more than you need. something to consider on item 1, the SSD is also where you page file resides. if your problem goes off RAM (and it will because of the way that windows works), you still have a fast drive for that part.
3. CPU - look for the fastest core possible. a lot of operations are single core so if you go with multiple cores, you may lose performance. go with whatever you can afford here but always go based on single core. for example if your options are dual core 2.6 or quad 2.2, i would go with dual 2.6.
4. GFX - if this is just for solving, you could go with a minimal graphics card. but with lots of DOF, eventually you'll want to display the results so on the computer you're showing the results, you want a capable graphics card. anything modern should do fine. but on this computer, you also want the RAM, CPU and HDD to be able to open the results and manipulate them.
something you MAY want to consider before upgrading is seeing if you can try out some hardware to see if it makes the difference. also have somoene review your model. if you want, i can help with either, my email is email@example.com.
another thing to consider for testing would be web/cloud based solving. i haven't tried it yet but if you're not doing this every day, something like amazon web services might be a fit. something i'm hoping to investigate later this year.
Thank you in taking time to respond to my request. Yes, we simplify as much as is possible when considering our applications. Interesting that you bring up the limitations of windows. Is there any other operating system available that could help with this, does UNIX still exist – would it help? Would SW run on it? Or dare I mention Apple (that I don’t like)?
We are using solid state drives. Full of the fastest RAM we could get. Large BUS board.
I think I understand what you are saying about CPU – but is the industry moving to multi thread applications which use multi cores?
Does this mean that single core processes (which have large capacity) really not available? – Im as confused as hell with this!
I know it sounds stupid but; weather centres tie computers together to perform large computations – can I not to the same? And if not why not?
Im not really interested in graphics cards. They are what they are. Im assuming by this: a high performance card would not inhibit performance.
Cloud processing. I need a solution I have control of, and would not trust this at this early stage.
In any case – why would they do it any faster and if they can – how?
Thank you for your time in helping me with this. I still feel confused and bemused by it. I really need to know how the software utilises and allocates it resources when performing an FEA calculation.
I need to get rid of the bottlenecks – simple!
Thank you again!
no non-windows client so it is kind of a moot point.
on cores, just buy what is available, there really aren't any single or duals out there but if you're choosing between quad and six core processors, go with the one with the highest clock speed.
currently no clustering for solving in solidworks simulation.
graphics cards, i agree. won't inhibit solving performance. but once you have to look at results, that is a different matter. for example, some of the problems in the 3million dof, i wouldn't want to use on a low end graphics card.
cloud processing, the advantage here is that you could test a high CPU or high core or high ram instance without having to buy anything. you just pay for the time you use it. a lot cheaper than spending 30k on a computer and finding out your speed only went up by 10%. when we are looking for more power, we usually engage the hardware mfg's to get some loaners to do our testing before moving forward. not everyone has this ability which is why i recommended the cloud options. note, they are clouds that you own. so your data is protected.
"clustering" was the term I was looking for!
Flow sim will use all you have but given you have 12 I am not sure more would be all that helpful.
Linear problems: the sparse solver will use all you have and pretty effectively. FFE solver only uses about 4 or so.
Non-linear: utilizatiojn is about the same for the sparse & FFE - I would guess at about 4 effective for each. The sparse in NL problems is not fully multi core. The matrix assembly operation and possibly the contact iteration are not vectorized (parallel execution) - hard to tell since they changed the solver window to the super less informed version.
Go for faster cores. BOXX (a computer supplier - you can google them) has liquid cooled ones that apparanetly have very high frequencies - faster. lots of RAMis handy - the type and sub type are not that important. SSD of any stripe will work well. I use separate drives for system and working files.
My system was a Dell T7500 so I don't think you need to custom build one - Dell, HP & BOXX would be probably worth checking out. You only beed a Xeon if you are want a dual socket system ortherwise an i7 system would be fine - might be very slightly faster actually.
Thank you for your input Bill.
I’ve been on the “Boxx” website and specified the following:-
WS Dual Intel Xeon E5-2687W 3.286Ghz Enhanced Performance Processors (Eight-Core)
256GB OverClocked DDR3-1700 ECC (16 - 16GB DIMMS)
NVIDIA Quadro 6000G 6GB
2TB Serial ATA RAID 1 Array (2x 2TB 7,200rpm)
20X Dual Layer DVD±RW Writer
Microsoft Windows 8 Professional Edition 64-Bit with DVD Playback Software
Is this the ceiling? The best for FEA and CFD or can more processing power be obtained?
I am beginning to think that a clear understanding of how the software interacts with the hardware is required. An understanding at my simple level that is!
what does that system cost?
what do you have right now?
only thing i see there that may not make sense is the raid 1 7200RPM drive. is that faster than SSD these days?
Allow me to jump in .
I think you'll find these two KB articles useful:
- For SolidWorks Simulation: Solution ID: S-018633 - Usage of multiple CPUs and cores, and influence on solution time
- For Flow Simulation: Solution ID: S-034487 - Usage of multiple CPUs and influence on solution time
These articles explain which parts of the software can use multiple cores and how much time is saved with each additional core depending on the type of analysis, plus other details.
This will certainly help you make an educated decision.
Are there KB arcticles about the influence of the hard disk drive. I like to buy a SSD for my workstation but it would be great to know how much it would bring to me.
I don't know of any benchmark done to compare the influence of the disk drives.
As Jared mentions I think an SSD to augment or replace the disc array would be good move. As I have a Quadro6000 in my box I would say it is a waste of money given how much they cost. I see no big improvement over lower priced cards. I would just get a 4000 and put the dough into an SSD or faster processor if they are available.
With 30k to spend I'd at least consider other software packages. We're transitioning from SolidWorks Simulation Premium / Flow Simulation over to Ansys Mechanical / Fluent, and some of the time savings are alarming. Had a three part assembly with contact go from 6 hours to 1.5!
I will through my 2 cents in here as well. ANSYS would not be my first choice for a go to code on contact or other non-linearities. I would check out ABAQUS by Simulia for robust and fast contact. They run a token based systems so you can run whatever they have if you have the requisite tokens. Tokens also get you access to the multiple cores and other hardware options including support for graphics card numeric support. If you go this sort of route then cards like the Quadro 6000 then become compelling. ANSYS historically has not been a strong NL code, particularily in tough contact situations. ABAQUS is also a Dassault product and pre & post is pretty easy as it supports both geometry based and nodal based model specifications. Models can update withteh SWX associative link. They have a fluid code as well but but it may not support the vast array of capabilites in Fluent or CFX - it was mostly developed for fluid strucutre interactions but does support a wide array of capabilites. Then again if you have Flow Sim and if it does what you need it is fast, easy, robust and more productive than Fluent if it satisfies your class of problems. I would stick with it if it does what you need. The only way Fluent gets faster (or CFX) is if you go through the trouble of building a structured mesh which is pretty labor intensive typically.
6hr>1.5hr would be far out of the range of what i've seen comparing 2 FE programs for the exact same problem on the exact same hardware. have you spoken to your reseller on this yet?
that being said, if you're leveraging some kind of clustering computing and paying more for the use of additional cores, then i could see that potentially being case because it isn't an apples to apples comparison.
bill, good comments on the GFX card and abaqus. can confirm the same about the GFX cards here from testing that we've done at Hawk Ridge and also with us carrying ABAQUS now, i've seen some pretty awesome things that it can do.
Jurgen, no benchmarks currently but if you look at standard benchmarks for drive comparisons, it will translate over to simulation. the only one that is tricky to compare is CPU because most benchmarks for CPU are multi-core whereas most of the stuff in solidworks is single core. so the results don't translate exactly. that is why solidworks and resellers have done additional testing.
ok thanks. so it would be a good idea to put an ssd in my workstation. hope my boss will see this the same way