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Simulia Workstation FAQ

Q: How well does Simulia scale with more CPU cores?

A:  The short answer is: extremely well! It is nearly impossible for any software to perfectly scale to the point that doubling the number of cores doubles performance, but both ANSYS Mechanical and Fluent are very effective at utilizing higher numbers of cores. Because of this, we offer both single and dual CPU configurations that allow up to 44 CPU cores.

Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of a dual CPU workstation?

A: The main advantage of a dual CPU workstation is that it allows you to have an extremely high number of CPU cores - our dual CPU system allows for anywhere from 20 to 44 cores. This can give you anywhere from a modest 30% increase in performance to almost four times the performance of our single CPU workstation. The downside of a dual CPU workstation is that it is physically larger and not ideal for general CAD or 3D modeling tasks. These tasks tend to be what is called "single threaded" which means that they cannot utilize more than one or sometimes two CPU cores. Since the CPUs used in these dual CPU configurations run at relatively modest frequencies this means that you will have much lower performance compared to a single CPU workstation that is half (or even less) the cost.

Q: Does Simulia utilize the GPU?

A: Simulia can use the GPU to accelerate performance for a variety of tasks, but generally makes the biggest difference if you are using the direct sparse solver as that tends to be computation bound rather than memory bound. Not only can a GPU or multiple GPUs give you a great performance boost for these tasks, but since Simulia licensing is based on the number of CPU cores.

Q: Do I need to use a Tesla/Quadro card or is GeForce OK?

A: Dassault Systemes not only recommends the use of Quadro and Tesla cards for Simulia, but these cards are also slightly more reliable and the drivers are a bit more stable. Because of this, we highly recommend using a Quadro or Tesla card in your ANSYS workstation. In addition, if your simulations require the use of double precision you should strongly consider the Tesla model of cards. They have much higher performance when in double precision mode than the Quadro cards.

Q: How much system RAM do I need?

A: The amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the type of analysis you are performing. For linear and non-linear Static analysis around 4-8GB per CPU core is recommended. For explicit the amount of RAM per core changes based on the number of elements: if you have less than 400k elements then just 2GB per CPU core is enough, but for larger than 400K we recommend ~4GB per CPU Core. Due to the CPUs available on our workstations, this works out to around 64-128GB of RAM (at least) depending on if you are using our single or dual CPU configuration.

Q: Should I use an SSD?

A: Yes! SSDs are much faster than traditional hard drives and in many cases can give a noticeable difference in performance. In fact, modern SSDs are so fast that many of the old recommendations of using a RAID array no longer apply. There are still times when a RAID of drives for the extra performance is beneficial, but it is much rarer today than it was in the past. One thing we do recommend doing if possible is to use at least two SSDs - one for your OS and programs, and the second as a dedicated scratch drive.

Q: Do I need a Xeon CPU?

A: In the past, Xeon CPUs were more robust than their Core i5/i7 counterparts. Today, however, there is very little functional difference between the two Intel product families for workstations. In fact, the largest difference is simply the fact that the Xeon E5 family includes CPUs that allow for dual CPU configurations and higher core counts while the Core i7 CPUs tend to run at a higher frequency (which usually means you can get better performance per core - which means fewer licensing tokens needed). Our Simulia workstations actually use a mix of CPUs from these two product familes. The dual CPU workstation uses Xeon CPUs due to their multi-CPU support while the single CPU uses Intel's "High-End" Core i7 CPUs.

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