Optimized Hardware For Solidworks Simulation

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Solidworks Simulation allows you to test product designs in virtual, real-world environments prior to manufacture. Properly configuring a workstation for Solidworks Simulation can dramatically decrease solve times. A common misconception is that a dual Xeon workstation will offer the best performance. In this article, we’ll address this notion as well as offer insight into the speedup that can be realized when upgrading to a new workstation from an older machine.

Summary:
– Benchmarks show compelling reasons to upgrade your old workstation to current hardware like the APEXX 2
– Benefits of Hyper-Threading
– Advantages of overclocking

Making the case to upgrade
If you’re running simulations on a regular basis and using a machine at the end of its life cycle, the numbers show you should definitely consider an upgrade. In the graph below, we compared the solve times of our current generation, single CPU, overclocked workstations, to a 3 year old dual Xeon 12 core system. As you can see, solve times on current hardware were reduced by more than half.

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FEA – Nonlinear Structural 
For this test, the current generation Intel Xeon E5-2697AV4 based workstation with 32 physical CPU cores easily beat out all the other configurations we tested. You should consider the price/performance of the high core count Xeons. If reducing structural solve times is most critical, then we recommend Xeon based systems. Our overclocked i7 based workstations returned slower solve times for the structural test, but are much more affordable up front, while offering superior performance for other types of simulation (FEA Thermal and CFD)

FEA – Thermal Transient
Both of our overclocked i7 based workstations performed very well on these tests which benefit from CPUs with higher clock speeds, rather many CPU cores. The 4 core APEXX 2 model 2402 overclocked to 4.4 GHz was slightly faster than the 10 core APEXX 2 model 3403 overclocked to 4.1/4.3GHz.* From a price/performance standpoint, the 4 core APEXX 2 is the ideal choice.

CFD
Once again, the overclocked Core i7 workstations provide better value in this scenario, with the 10 core being the ideal option.

Time To Upgrade
We included results from an older Xeon CPU in order to demonstrate the performance gains that can be realized with current hardware. The overclocked 10 core workstation is 2x faster than the three year old 12 core workstation.


Hyper-Threading
To test the effects of Hyper-Threading, we enabled this feature on the overclocked ten core i7 system as well as the 32 core Xeon system which yielded some interesting results. Hyper-Threading actually increased the solve time for the structural test while dramatically decreased solve times for both the thermal and CFD tests. Depending on the type of simulations you run, you should consider enabling this feature.


No more than 10 cores
While the software does make use of multiple CPU cores, performance does not scale indefinitely as more become available. In fact, going beyond 10 CPU cores can actually decrease simulation solve times. This presents an opportunity to fine tune a hardware configuration for optimized price and performance.

BOXX is unique in that we offer professionally overclocked four core and ten core solutions, optimized to reduce Solidworks Simulation times.

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Simulation and design on one machine
Many engineers will run simulations on the same machine they use for design and 3D modeling. It’s important to consider the hardware requirements of these tasks if your workstation is used primarily for building assemblies and design work. Solidworks design is predominantly single-threaded. One of the best ways to improve performance and productivity is to increase the clock speed the CPU. BOXX achieves this though professional overclocking and our APEXX 2 is well known throughout the industry as the fastest, most reliable Solidworks workstation on the market.

Conclusions
Utilizing the latest hardware, and taking advantage of overclocked processors will decrease simulation solve time. This will ultimately provide you with better insight into your design/assemblies, allow for more iterations and thus a better product.

To speak with a BOXX hardware performance specialist about a Solidworks Simulation workstation, call 512-835-0400 or fill out the form below.

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