What hardware configuration advice can you give for optimal performance?

General Recommendations:

  • Our programs run on all versions of Windows (Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10).
  • At least 4 GB of memory is recommended.
  • As we use OpenGL for rendering geometry, a graphics card is required for 3D programs.
  • We have both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of our programs. 64-bit machines are normally required for 3D programs to achieve maximum memory requirements.
  • 1-5 GB of hard disk space is recommended depending on the program. The higher speed hard disk drives are an asset. These are usually 10,000 rpm drives or solid state drives (SSDs).

2D Programs:

  • Typical models run quickly on a minimum of 4 GB RAM.
  • Although single processor machines are often adequate, the software will make full use of multi-processor and multi-core machines.

3D Programs:

  • Typical models run quickly on a minimum of 16 GB RAM. Larger models run faster and better as more RAM is used.
  • Multi-core and multi-processor systems are highly suited as 3D programs are multi-threaded.

 

Available RAM versus Problem Size

For small problems the processor speed is the biggest consideration for calculations. If your processor works at twice the speed the problem will be solved in half the time. For larger problems, however, memory management progressively becomes a bigger and bigger consideration. If the memory needed to solve is larger than available RAM – then most of the problem is being swapped back and forth between RAM and the hard disk as the problem proceeds. The efficiency of this process becomes the biggest single factor in the speed of solving large problems. Since this is managed by Windows itself – taking account of other processes also running – we can do very little to help you optimize further from within our software, but can offer the following advice regarding the system setup:

  • Determine the size of problems you will be solving. This is reported in the Message Area as required disk space when the BEM solver begins. It is also reported for the existing element distribution from the menu Solution>Elements>Problem Size.
  • The importance of getting as much RAM as needed on a 64 bit system is illustrated by the benchmark results below for a challenging magnetic problem run on 4 different computers:Comparison of solution times for a nonlinear 3D magnetic model requiring 6 GB memory

  • The model took 6 hours to solve on a basic system and 3/4 hour to solve on a good system. There are many differences between the 4 systems used, leading to some noise in the plot. However, it is clear that the optimal solution is to use a 64 bit version of the software with more RAM available than the reported memory requirement.
  • 2 hard drives: When choosing hard disk features access time is clearly important. You can set up the locations of the scratch files from Utilities>Settings. Out of various configurations we tested, this was the single most important factor in performing faster analyses when the memory required exceeded available RAM.
  • RAID ARRAY: using a RAID array lets you use multiple disks as a single drive letter, but will manage the access very efficiently. We configure our own systems such that IES software is installed on d: (a RAID array) with the program and scratch files using d:.
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