Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

[Infographic] Top 3 CAD File Management Challenges

Posted by John Agoglia on Wed, Oct 19, 2016

 

 

There are plenty of challenges facing companies every day. Some are unavoidable. Others, such as CAD file management, have some easy fixes if you have the right processes and systems in place. Here are three of the top challenges facing manufacturers when it comes to CAD file management. For some solutions to them [and 7 other hurdles] watch our On-Demand Webinar: 8 Ways to Better CAD File Management

 A look at the Top 3 CAD File Management Challenges. The solutions to them and 7 more can be found in our On Demand Webinar.

 

 

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Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, CAD files, Manufacturing, 3D CAD, Manufacturing CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, PLM, PDM

Does 64-bit Computing Matter for CAD Users?

Posted by John McCullough on Wed, Sep 08, 2010

john wright mccullough

What’s So Great about 64-bits?

happy intel guy

You’d have to be living under a rock to not have heard that the PC market is in the middle of a transition from 32-bit to 64-bit computing. However it’s very likely you have not heard much about how this change is going to help you. The reality is that it has not delivered much yet. This transition has been happening very slowly because there are three separate 64-bit transition steps which need to occur in series. The first step is the processor and motherboard hardware, second is the operating system and hardware drivers, and last are the programs. The big benefits of the change won’t start to come until all three steps are complete. The good news is, we are just about there.

The advantage of a 64-bit architecture is that it allows the PC to juggle much bigger chucks of data – like real big numbers. If you are not regularly doing math with numbers over 4 billion you might think this is not going to help you. The real advantage for CAD users comes in the area of large memory addresses. 32-bit systems are limited to handling 4 GB of RAM. They just can’t count memory addresses higher than that. 64-bit systems can count so much higher that the ceiling of the amount of RAM possible becomes far out of sight. Back in 1990 when I thought my new 32-bit 486 with 4 MB of RAM was cool I didn’t think I would need a thousand times that much RAM in 20 years. I’m just as sure today that I won’t need a million times as much RAM on my desk in 20 years, but the 64-bit processor architecture will handle it.

The big deal of additional RAM is speed. If you are creating large files or performing complex modeling operations that cause the system to access the hard drive based swap file this is a serious performance bottleneck. If the system has access to enough RAM that it does not need to touch the hard drive operations will complete much faster.  Hardware vendors have been quoted that pulling that first bit out of RAM is 60,000 times faster than pulling it from a hard drive. Secondly, a percentage of CAD users are dealing with very large files (200+ MB) and may have run into a memory ceiling preventing them from increasing the size of a single file. An additional benefit from access to more RAM is that this ceiling can be raised.

There is a possible minor downside to running 64-bit programs. 64-bit versions of programs actually run slightly slower in some cases than 32-bit versions of the same program. Remember that 64-bit is not designed to be faster than 32-bit, it is designed to handle more data. Tasks that are not shuffling large amounts of data are not hitting the 32-bit memory bottleneck and won’t benefit from the change. The largest performance hit I’ve seen benchmarked was 20% and in most simple benchmarks 32-bit to 64-bit performance on the same task was close.

 

What’s the hold up? 

conductor checking time

64-bit processors were first introduced to the PC market in 2003. Now that we are in mid-2010, you likely have experienced a 64-bit processor. Did you notice any difference?  You probably didn’t. Most of the 64-bit hardware sold continues to run in 32-bit mode. Even though 64-bit Windows operating systems have been available to the mainstream for two years now, today’s most popular PC operating system is still Windows XP, which is estimated to be over 99% 32-bit. Windows Vista has about 15% of the market but is still only at 11% 64-bit. In early July Microsoft announced that the 64-bit version of Windows 7 has now reached 50% of the Windows 7 installs. It is estimated that Windows 7 has recently reached 15% market share. So don’t feel bad if you are not on a 64-bit operating system yet, you are comfortably in the majority.

A 64-bit operating system is not complete without the drivers to run all of your hardware. This has been a large part of the delay in getting users moved over to 64-bit operating systems. With Windows 7 64-bit most of those driver issues have been resolved (or the hardware has gotten old enough to forget about). If you have special hardware or utility programs you may need to do some hunting for 64-bit versions or replacements before you can use a 64-bit operating system.

Once you have a 64-bit processor and a 64-bit operating system now you are ready to start running 64-bit programs. However, you don’t need to. Just like 64-bit processors are mostly still running 32-bit versions of Windows, 64-bit Windows versions available today can still run 32-bit programs without much trouble. The Windows 7 64-bit has proven itself reliable and can run 32-bit programs very well. For most users buying a new machine, there is no reason not to go with the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Even if you do stay with a 32-bit program in 64-bit Windows there is a significant RAM benefit. By default 32-bit operating systems limit programs (each process) to access a maximum of 2 GB of RAM. Some users with the maximum 4GB of RAM on 32-bit operating systems have been using a special setting that will allow individual program processes up to 3GB. This same setting in 64-bit versions of Windows now allows processes from 32-bit programs access to the full 4GB of RAM that they can handle.

 

Conclusion

64-bit computing has arrived to the PC market. If you are working with large CAD files (over 20 MB) or performing complex modeling operations you are likely to benefit from speed improvements gained by the access to more RAM which a 64-bit architecture allows. This is a benefit you can begin to realize even with 32-bit programs running in 64-bit Windows. Full 64-bit computing (processor, operating system, and program) will allow access to huge amounts or RAM and eliminate the architecture-based memory ceiling problem with very large files.

The next release of KeyCreator will be available in two versions, 32-bit and 64-bit. The 32-bit version will be the right version for most users since they are still running a 32-bit version of Windows. The 64-bit version can only be used in 64-bit Windows. If you are running 64-bit Windows and have over 3-4 GB of RAM, you should consider installing the 64-bit version. Over the next several months Kubotek will be conducting 32-bit vs. 64-bit performance testing on a workstation with 12 GB RAM. These results will be published around the time of the release and make the advantages of the 64-bit version clear.

Topics: CAD, CAD files, 64-bit, RAM, large files

How Important is Speed in CAD Software?

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, Oct 23, 2009

For version 9 of Kubotek's KeyCreator 3D Direct CAD modeler we just increased the speed over version 8.5 for many functions by doing some serious under the hood changes.  In terms of computing, I think its safe to say that faster is pretty much always better than slower. 

And in general, I believe its also true that 3D Direct Modelers, like KeyCreator have an inherent edge over history based modelers in terms of speed.   Since we don't store all of the steps required to build the model in history, we don't have to go back through and update each of those steps when changes are made to our models.  They are just updated directly. You will never see  "rebuilding" on your screen while you wait for your model to update.

Additionally the KeyCreator program itself is much smaller than large and complex history-based, constraint-based modelers.  For KeyCreator, the intelligence is kept in the file, not by the program.  So, we are not the memory hogs that our history-based friends can be. KeyCreator is delivered with one DVD with everything on it.  (KeyCreator alone could be on a CD.)  Other CAD programs are delivered on multiple DVDs. Just the documentation alone for one CAD program is four DVD's and another 2006 version of a popular history-based CAD package is delivered on 4 DVDs. The point is, that by taking up less space in memory, it is freed for computations required for modeling.

But how important is speed to CAD users?  Most people don't want to sit and wait for their computer to crunch through data. Many studies show that we are less and less tolerant of this.  But other than the frustration of the wait time I would like to understand the average amount of time people actually lose as a result of sitting and waiting for the CAD programs to either start up, rebuild or complete their operations.

To answer this question I have developed a simple one question survey on Linked-In. And if you are a CAD user, I encourage you to take this poll and view the results. 

Click here to View or Take the poll: Time lost due to waiting for your CAD program 

Thank you for participating. 

Scott


Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, CAD files, CAD users, Lost time CAD