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What workstation to Buy for solidworks Flow Simulation

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Old   November 23, 2015, 09:43
Default What workstation to Buy for solidworks Flow Simulation
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John
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Hi Folks,

I'm looking for some advice as to what type of workstation to buy for running Solidworks Flow Simulation.

Two options that I heard are good are;
  • Dell Precision T7910 Workstation
  • HP Z840 Workstation

If you look at these systems on the Dell or HP websites, there are lots of configuration options. CPU and RAM are the key factors, but should i go for a single CPU with between 12 and 18 cores, or dual CPU's with a lower number of cores. What other factors are key?

Does anyone else know of more suitable systems for Flow Sim?

Typical model sizes that I'm (trying) to run on my current system (Intel i7, 8 core, 32 GB Ram) are about 5 to 7 million cells.

Thanks in advance.

John.
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Old   April 7, 2016, 04:10
Default Which one?
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Hi John,

Which one did you purchase eventually?
I am quite interested as I am looking for a Workstation for the same purpose.

Thanks,

Bárbara
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Old   April 7, 2016, 06:33
Default Flow Simulation, best machine to run it on
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Hi Bárbara,

I opted for the Precision T7910 Workstation in the end. With the following spec's:

Processor: Dual Intel® Xeon® Processor E5*2699 v3 (18C, 2.3GHz, 145W,LQ)
Operating System:Windows 7 Professional (64Bit Windows 8.1 License, Media)*
Video Card: 2 GB NVIDIA Quadro NVS 510 (4mDP)

Its an excellent machine for working with the floEFD add on to Solidworks, which solidworks calls Flow Simulation. It was a very expensive machine costing almost £10,000.

I've discovered that the key factor is choosing a Xeon processor. If you run the Flow Simulation software on a Intel i7 processor there is a high probability of encountering system hangs and crashes. So be sure to get a machine with a Xeon processor, as they are designed for high and constant work loads and are rock solid and reliable.

I recently saw a white paper that hawkridgesys.com (the solidworks reseller in the US) brought out stating that there is no improvement in Flow Simulation's solution time with using more than a 16 core processor. This must be caused by some limitation in the software.

Hope this helps. Let me know how you get on.

John.
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Old   April 7, 2016, 10:04
Default Flow Simulation, best machine to run it on
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Hi John,
Thanks very much for the information, it is indeed very helpful. My budget is tighter than yours as I can spend up to £2000. I have checked the Hardware recommendations from SolidWorks and I have found the Dell Precision T5810 which has got the Intel XEON Processor. The Specs are:
Processor: Dual Intel® Xenon® Processor E5-1680 v3 (8C 3.5GHx, 10M 140W)
Operating System: Windows 7 Professional (64Bit Windows 8.1 License, Media)
Video Card: AMD FirePro™ W2100 2GB (2 DP) (1DP to SL-DVI adapter)

I have no knowledge in computer specs at all, so do you think that would be a good machine for SWFS?

Thanks very much,

Bárbara
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Old   April 7, 2016, 10:38
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Yes, that machine will be fine. You don't specify the RAM that the machine has, but I would recommend at least 32 GB.
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Old   April 7, 2016, 11:01
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Thanks very much!
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Old   April 7, 2016, 15:03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John M123 View Post
[...]
I've discovered that the key factor is choosing a Xeon processor. If you run the Flow Simulation software on a Intel i7 processor there is a high probability of encountering system hangs and crashes. So be sure to get a machine with a Xeon processor, as they are designed for high and constant work loads and are rock solid and reliable.

I recently saw a white paper that hawkridgesys.com (the solidworks reseller in the US) brought out stating that there is no improvement in Flow Simulation's solution time with using more than a 16 core processor. This must be caused by some limitation in the software.
[...]
Xeon Processors alone are not more reliable than their Core-I7 counterparts. The key difference when it comes to stability is ECC memory which is only supported by the Xeon processors.
If you encounter frequent hangs and crashes with an I7 Processor the problem is not necessarily missing ECC memory, but it is very likely that there is something wrong with the memory itself and it should be checked and replaced.
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Old   April 7, 2016, 15:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbara View Post
Hi John,
Thanks very much for the information, it is indeed very helpful. My budget is tighter than yours as I can spend up to £2000. I have checked the Hardware recommendations from SolidWorks and I have found the Dell Precision T5810 which has got the Intel XEON Processor. The Specs are:
Processor: Dual Intel® Xenon® Processor E5-1680 v3 (8C 3.5GHx, 10M 140W)
Operating System: Windows 7 Professional (64Bit Windows 8.1 License, Media)
Video Card: AMD FirePro™ W2100 2GB (2 DP) (1DP to SL-DVI adapter)

I have no knowledge in computer specs at all, so do you think that would be a good machine for SWFS?

Thanks very much,

Bárbara
Dear Barbara,

You will overpay a workstation which might not perform as you expect it to. For example, E5-1680 v3 Xeon is a single socket processor - so, I don't know where you got the "dual" part from. In fact, when I try to configure a 5000 series Dell Precision tower on their website, it's exclusively a single socket system (even if you put a E5-2600 series processor in there, which can operate in dual cpu mode). Anywy, if your budget is 2000 pounds you could get a lot more bang for the buck.

Second thing, this Dell system by default comes with only 2x4 GB of DDR4-2133 RAM and if you do not get at least 4x(of any size) you will have a quad channel capable CPU and motherboard working in dual channel which will be 50 % slower. This is especially felt in CFD calculations because the CPU-RAM speed is the bottleneck.

My suggestion would be that you get the 8 core i7 equivalent of this Xeon which would be i7-5960x. It's basically the same CPU and it will be roughly 40% cheaper. The importance of the RAM's ECC feature is highly overblown as it will mostly come into effect if you are doing calculations that take days or weeks for a single run where even a few errors in the RAM can eventually propagate and crash the solution. I've ran things for up to 2 weeks of continuous 24/7 calculation that took around 60 GB of RAM (out of the 64 that I had at the time) and never had a single problem (regular DDR3 unbuffered RAM).

Another thing to keep in mind: Xeons are very much "locked" in a lot of ways. For example, the aforementioned i7 will recognize and work with any DDR4 RAM up to 3200 MHz or even higher (depending on the motherboard) while the Xeon will leave you at the base frequency of 2133 MHz. Again, I stress the CPU-RAM bottleneck where higher frequency RAM will help a LOT.

Furthermore, with DELL you will be overpaying for the "brand name" chassis, power supply and other crap.

If I were you, I'd go visit any local computer shop and ask them to build you a workstation per your specification (or mine, or someone else's). You will get nearly twice the bang for your buck and for all intents and purposes the system will be stable and dependable (and if the shop builds it, you will have a year or two warranty on it, especially if it's a high end system).

I'd go via that route before giving Dell or HP any of my money.
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