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TitleMaximizing SolidWorks Performance
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Page 1

Maximize SolidWorks
Performance
 

The software tweaks and hardware upgrades that provide
as much as a 5.5 times increase in SolidWorks’ performance.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

A Study by Computer
Aided Technology, Inc.

 

Prepared by the editors
of Desktop Engineering

 
 
 

Maximize SolidWorks’ Performance 1

Page 2

CONTENTS
 

 
Executive Summary ......................................................................................................... 3

 

 
Introduction..................................................................................................................... 4

 

 
Defining the Research Methodology.............................................................................. 5

 

 
Findings that Boost SolidWorks Performance ............................................................... 9

 

 
1. Don’t Use Default Settings .................................................................................. 10

 

 
2. Fast, Multicore Processors Matter....................................................................... 12

 

 
3. Max out RAM to Minimize Swap ........................................................................ 14

 

 
4. You Need Solid-State Hard Drives...................................................................... 15

 

 
5. The Devil is in the Model Details ....................................................................... 16

 

 
6. The Optimal State................................................................................................ 18

 
Conclusions & Next Steps ............................................................................................ 19

 

 
 
 

Appendix
 

 
I. How to Set Virtual Memory and Windows Performance Options .......................... 21

 
II. SolidWorks 2012 Optimal System Setting Options................................................ 24

 

 
III. Definitions .............................................................................................................. 30

 

 
IV. Additional Resources ............................................................................................... 31

 

 
V. Acknowledgements ................................................................................................... 32

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Maximize SolidWorks’ Performance 2

Page 17

T

Finding 4: You Need Solid-State Hard Drives
 

“As soon as I put the operating system and work files on an SSD, we started getting a
huge benefit,” says Fanjoy.

 
Hard drive speed—the rate at which the storage drive allows
you to write data to it and read data from it—affects Solid-
Works modeling sessions dramatically, especially when a single
drive is used for data storage, Windows operations, and swap.
Newer solid-state drives (SSDs) yield better performance than
older spindle-equipped hard drives, whose speed is measured
in revolutions per minute (hence, RPM).

 
While SSDs are more expensive than spindle drives, CATI tests
showed that, with the swap and Windows residing on a single
Intel® Solid State Drive 520 series, the performance was 47%
faster than the same setup on a standard 7200 RPM hard drive.

That speed boost would cost you about $200 for a 120GB Intel® 520 Series SSD.
That’s just $100 more than a 120GB 7200 RPM spindle drive. Such a small invest-
ment would pay for itself very quickly.

 

But to speed things up even
more, CATI put work files on
one SSD and the operating sys-
tem and swap on another. When
the test was rerun with the op-
erating system and swap on two
SSDs configured as RAID 0, and
the assembly stored on a sepa-
rate Revo solid-state PCI-e card,
CATI saw a 56% improvement
in performance.

 

 
 

Productivity Pointer
o Replacing the 7200 RPM hard drive with a

solid-state hard drive yielded a 47% increase.
 

o Further optimizing the hard drive configuration
saved 2 hours and 13 minutes, a 56% improvement.

 
 

Suspending Functionality via Large Assembly Mode
 

he option that produces the biggest difference in SolidWorks, CATI discovered, is one
many engineers are reluctant to use. The Large Assembly Mode allows you to load a
large assembly with enough visual details to inspect it, but without some of the compo-

nent-level details that require far more computing power. Working in this mode, CATI noted
that performance improved by 89%, meaning that the benchmark that ran in just over five
hours completed in less than 35 minutes.

 
That performance increase is offset, however, by the suspension of some display features and
operations normally available in SolidWorks. For instance, model faces, edges and vertices are
not highlighted when you move the pointer over a sketch, model or drawing. When moving or
rotating the model, you’ll notice a lower quality in transparency. The assembly loads faster in this
mode because it loads without some of the lightweight components. Depending on how you set
your Large Assembly threshold, some automatic rebuild functions may also be suspended.

 
“I always get a lot of pushback when suggesting customers use Large Assembly Mode for vari-
ous reasons,” says Altergott. “There were issues with it at one point in time. There are a lot of
settings that could be done incorrectly. If you do the right things, the functionality works great.
However, an untrained user steps on their toes more often than not.”

 
 
 

 
Maximize SolidWorks’ Performance 15

Page 18

T

Finding 5: The Devil is in the Model Details
 

The more details in a model, the bigger the hit to performance. Over the last two de-
cades, CATI has found many engineers work with models that have an unnecessarily high
level of details — and they might not even realize it.

 
“We have found that this issue occurs most frequently with components that are down-
loaded from vendors that have made their models available for easy access and configura-
tion over the web,” Altergott says.

 
CATI’s recommendation is to remove any excess details from parts and assemblies after
download. If feasible, CATI suggests:

 
• Reducing the level of detail to outer walls and mounting points.
• Saving assemblies as parts.
• Combining solid bodies.
• Turning surface bodies into solid bodies.
• Deleting any unneeded surface or solid bodies.
• Exporting and reimporting files to reduce the number of features in a files.

 
Certain standard components that remain hidden, such as screws and bolts, may also
contain a high level of detail, depending on the form of threaded holes they feature. Ex-
truded texts and patterned features may also add to the memory demands of the assembly.

 
 

Avoid Network Bottlenecks with PDM
 

he growing model complexity and shared workflow among SolidWorks users often
lead to networked storage where parts of an assembly, or the entire assembly, may be
stored on a network drive.

 
“Using the data across a network can greatly damage productivity when compared with using
the same data locally,” says Fanjoy. “Our testing showed a 16% performance degrada- tion
from our baseline when operating over the network.”

 
Factors that contribute to the performance degradation include the data reading/writing
speed of the hard drives, network bandwidth, server capacity, server hard drive speed and
bandwidth-sapping virus scanning operations.

 
Redundant virus scanning at the network and local levels further deprives SolidWorks of
processing power. In CATI’s tests, when virus scanning was active on the server only, the
benchmark ran 13% slower than when working over the network without scanning. When
virus scanning was active on both the server and the client, the benchmark ran 18% slower
than when working over the network without scanning.

 
Of course, in midsized and large enterprises, it’s nearly impossible to avoid network storage
or virus scanning. It’s essential to collaborative product development to have multiple engi-
neers working on different parts of the design at the same time.

 
The use of a product data management (PDM) system not only allows files to be checked
out and worked on locally for increased speed, it also decreases unnecessary file duplica-
tion (a common problem stemming from emailing files). The systematic approach to han-
dling externally referenced documents could also reduce data complexity, thus improving
file load times and software performance in modeling sessions.

 
 
 

 
Maximize SolidWorks’ Performance 16

Page 33

Appendix IV
 

 
 

Additional Resources
 

• Computer Aided Technology, Inc.
cati.com

 
• Computer Aided Technology, Inc. Blog

blog.cati.com
 

• Computer Aided Technology, Inc. YouTube Channel
youtube.com/user/catichannel

 
• Computer Aided Technology, Inc. Subsidiary and Service Provider

inflow-tech.com
 

• BOXX Technologies
boxxtech.com

 
• Price a BOXX Workstation for SolidWorks

boxxtech.com/solutions/solidworks_solution.asp
 

• BOXX Customer Case Studies
boxxtech.com/customers/customer_stories.asp

 
• Intel Solid-State Drive 320 Series TCO Client Estimator

intel.com/content/www/us/en/solid-state-drives/solid-state-drives-320-series-tco-
estimator-demo.html

 
• SolidWorks Approved Graphics Card Drivers

solidworks.com/sw/support/videocardtesting.html
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Maximize SolidWorks’ Performance 31

Page 34

Appendix V
 

 

Acknowledgements
 

This white paper is based on research conducted by Computer Aided Technology, Inc. It
was prepared by Desktop Engineering as an educational resource for the engineering com-
munity. It was sponsored by BOXX Technologies and Intel Corp.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

THE PROFESSIONAL’S CHOICE
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Intel, Xeon, and Core, are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Microsoft and Windows

are U.S. registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. SolidWorks is a registered trademark of Dassault Systèmes

SolidWorks Corporation.
 
 
 

 
Maximize SolidWorks’ Performance 32

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