Help. Workstation vs Consumer hardware for CAD

Discussion in 'Overclocking & Hardware' started by KoroKoro, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    Hi,

    So the boss wants to upgrade our systems in the office (way over due) and he seems fixated on Xeons and Quadros.

    Our software is primarily Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD (avoided when possible), and possibly moving into Revit, Navisworks etc

    We've all been well aware that our software has only ever been limited to single core cpu performance. Everyone has been complaining to Autodesk for better multi-core utilisation... decades on and still no better. Further more, it turns out Inventor doesn't even utilise gpu acceleration. Unfortunately though this is the system we are stuck with as all of our projects and parts libraries are set up for it.

    So my boss doesn't seem to want to give up his Xeons 2014 and M4000 quadros regardless of cost. We aren't running any "mission critical" overnight calculations so I personally don't see the need for ECC memory.

    It turns out the best cpu to date for Inventor is the new 7700K... and in terms of specs, the GTX1080Ti absolutely crushes the new quadro P4000... Not to mention our IT guy has the attitude that we cant have "gaming" hardware because we are to do "work"... Maybe thats what they think "Workstations" are for...?

    Plus it seems we are limited to having the hardware supplied from Dell. I'm certain they would never approve anything alienware... So wondering why we must have a $6000 workstation when I can get a $2500 consumer chip...?I could use the left over change for better monitors (don't want 4K) and the best mouse I can get. A bigger desk would be nice!

    http://www.dell.com/au/p/xps-8920-desktop/pd?oc=a210394au&model_id=xps-8920-desktop

    Unfortunately this one doesn't seem to have the K series chip... so i'm guessing I am missing out of the factory 4.5GHz boost clock and some cache... Would it be possible to custom order that maybe?

    I also noticed the 7700K only has 16 pcie lanes... so I'm not sure how that is supposed to work with the nvme drive without kneecapping the link to the gpu.

    Are there any better options besides the Xeon E5-1630 v4 (quad core @ 4.0GHz boost) and the E5-1650 v4 (6 core @ 4.0GHz boost)

    Cheers guys
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  2. RyoSaeba

    RyoSaeba Member

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    You're not the one buying it so why are you bothering with consumer grade gear? Also you're not the one supporting or fixing anything if it breaks. Let desktop support do their job and you do yours.
     
  3. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    Thing is... its not IT choosing the hardware. Us (engineering) have been tasked to spec them.

    It concerns me as it directly affects my productivity.

    Here are some benchmark videos showing how slow the Xeons are bottlenecking (8 minute mark changes to 4790K and doubles performance)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnOtGrX_dBk&t=636s

    And here he direclty compares the 4790K with a dual socket Xeon and in 99% of all operations its about 2x faster.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkwq8BzdzIg

    If I have to do an extra collective 10 hours a week of unpaid overtime for waiting on a brand new slow computer... Then my performance (KPIs) will definitely suffer.
     
  4. RyoSaeba

    RyoSaeba Member

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    Then spec it with 7700k and 1080ti and submit it. If they don't like it then they can do their own job.
     
  5. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Have you said all this, in as direct a business context, to your boss?
     
  6. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    Well, as far as I'm aware, I don't even need a 1080Ti (was just comparing to P4000)... As far as software goes, it doesn't support any GPU acceleration... So long as I am not using onboard video, I'm guessing it makes no difference.

    What I am asking is:

    Why do I need a workstation Xeon?
    Why do I need ECC ram?
    Why do I need double point precision? What gpu would you go with?
    Is there a better performing CPU (for single core tasks) than the 7700K?
    Would only 16 pcie lanes kneecap the nvme drive?
    Wouldn't that money saved be better allocated on ergonomics?

    I'm not 'that' into IT, so I don't know all of the consequences of using an i7 for office work (has never been an issue before). But as far as I know, it could blow up 3 times over 6 years and would still be cheaper than the workstation.

    Cheers
     
  7. 2_stroke

    2_stroke Member

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    Who cares, its not your problem so let them deal with it. Its there pockets and job not yours so just let it be, sometimes its not a good idea to stick your nose where it shouldn't be in the work place.
     
  8. RyoSaeba

    RyoSaeba Member

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    So who's gonna support it if it does blow up 3 times over 6 years? What will you do during those time? How long will it take for parts to be available? How long do you guarantee those parts being available for? Who's looking after all that?
     
  9. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    Not in those exact words, but our team is aware of the lack of performance of our current software (2017 Pro). Solidworks doesn't seem to be any better and is lacking quite a lot of features we use every day.

    I doubt Autodesk will lift their game before our new machines become obsolete in 6 years time.
     
  10. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    No offence, but your team's opinion is worthless if they're not signing the cheques.

    The boss' concern is money. You need to talk their language. You need to show the boss that it's going to cost more money in the long run in wages/time/missed-deadlines than it is to save a few bucks on hardware.

    Unless... it doesn't. And it's a lot cheaper to buy half price workstations and pay you a bit of overtime (or put on more staff). In that case, you've lost the battle.

    Businesses exist to make profit. Everything else (the comfort and convenience of staff, for example) is a distant second. You can argue all you like that that's a really harsh outlook and it's not all warm and fluffy, but that's the way it is in the modern capitalist world.

    If you want to win the battle, speak the same language as your boss.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  11. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    Us by the looks. If anything dies, IT just buys another one from Dell. Plus we have spare towers to use if the new ones go down.

    I wouldn't have thought consumer hardware would be hard to find 'unavailable'. Besides, its all coming from Dell anyway... so I doubt it would be any different from a procurement perspective.
     
  12. zero_velocity

    zero_velocity Member

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    All good and well to go for consumer grade gear for AutoDesk products, but once you cross that line of 'Unsupported Hardware' note that your Autodesk help line gets disconnected pretty damn fast.

    Also Warranty. Build your own shit be ready to suffer the consequences when hardware fails.

    My consultancy had half a dozen workstations now which were ~$5k per box for Autocad & Revit. When you consider the billable rates we are sold for, its a drop in the ocean for the business, but jesus, you stop people on an engineering salary stop being productive, well, you are basically throwing cash out the window (in the vicinity of $1600 - $2000 per person per day in lost potential income), so do the maths, we are guaranteed an operational PC by NBD on our plan I believe with our workstations.

    So buy Dell or HP workstations and be done with it :thumbup:
     
  13. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    Elvis: When I say 'Boss', I mean my Engineering manager. He doesn't really care how much it costs. All he and I are concerned with is getting the job done. If the business wants to make profit through those means, thats fine but it doesn't really concern me.

    All I'm concerned with is being stuck with an expensive machine that doesn't help me do my job any faster. The last thing I want is to have them nagging me to hurry up and to only have me complain about how slow my brand new $6000 computer is...

    The one who signs the cheques doesn't even look at the hardware. All they do is see if thats what our team recommends then it gets rubber stamped. Obviously we don't want to recommend the wrong hardware for our application.
     
  14. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    Wont Dell guarantee this as an operational PC? I'm not suggesting we build our own machines from newegg or something.
    http://www.dell.com/au/p/xps-8920-desktop/pd?oc=a210394au&model_id=xps-8920-desktop

    I've worked in this industry for over 10 years now and we've never used workstation gear and we've never had a hardware failure. None of our hardware has ever been "Autodesk supported hardware" either.

    From experience, if we've had errors with our models, 100% of the time it was user error. Never needed Autodesk support either.
     
  15. underskore

    underskore Member

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    in 10 years of using consumer grade hardware how many times have you run into driver related issues? (just curious, not assuming anything)

    what's the usage breakdown of inventor look like?
    modelling/drawing/analysis/rendering

    will you possibly be looking to software outside of the autodesk realm within the life of these computers?

    what hardware do you have now? will going to high-end workstation class gear actually be a drop in speed for you or is that some hyperbole?

    edit:
    just found this comment from the guy who did those performance review videos you linked
    https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/inve...ocessor-for-a-single-workstation/td-p/6641565
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  16. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    never had driver issues. I suppose some people have (I dont know any personally), but they just roll back to previous stable driver.

    time breakdown is a bit difficult as it depends on the project. Last project it was a good 2~3 week modelling, 2~3 weeks detail drafting. analysis and rendering is done as you design. But just to give you an idea, it took almost an hour to export the model as a 3D pdf.

    I can't remember our current specs off the top of my head but its an i7 about 6 years old. 8 gigs of ram... which is no where near enough. we'll be getting at least 32gb.

    The E5-1630 will still be better than what we have now but I don't see why we'd ask for an old Broadwell chip when we can just get their latest architecture :s

    As for going outside of Autodesk, I'd say there is a 5% chance...
     
  17. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    He says:

    Last time I checked, I don't work over night or on weekends... So I don't really need a server grade cpu :s

    I still haven't seen a compelling reason as to why you need to have Xeons and Quadros at the office, especially when our software wont use the extra processing power.

    As he said earlier:
    I don't really care that much for the price difference (can't be blamed for wasting their money), I just need the best performance.
     
  18. underskore

    underskore Member

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    It's the same reason as it's always been... support. I've not been in the game long enough to have ever known a time when anything 'workstation' was faster.
    If you use consumer hardware to run apps that only 'support' workstation hardware you're left with no one but yourself(and the internet) to help sort out any problems when/if they occur.

    if you're doing the kind of work where those 20-30 second differences shown in those reviews are going to be a serious enough cost factor to forget about support then you might be able to make a business case for having a top of the line gaming machine with a middle of the road workstation sitting next to it as a failover.
     
  19. HobartTas

    HobartTas Member

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    Doesn't look like it, I'd suggest finding something else that does have a 7700K in it. I presume they don't offer it as an option because the motherboard probably doesn't support overclocking.

    Interesting question! I presume the GTX1080Ti is not (obviously) going to be used for shooters so the high bandwidth requirement is probably not needed. If you have other PCI-e slots on the motherboard that are X16 physical/X8 electrical or X16 physical/X4 electrical then you could try moving the video card over to a different slot and it may work just as well but sometimes some motherboards expect there to be a video card in that first X16 slot otherwise there can be problems. If this works you should have plenty of PCI-e lanes left over without much of a performance decrease.

    If you need ECC then only Xeon's support ECC.

    So you don't get errors in your calculations, having said that I believe that most of your CAD software that runs on non-ECC systems can do the calculations twice to make sure it comes up with the correct figures. Quadro's, Tesla's and Firepro cards also can be selected to use onboard GPU RAM in either ECC or non-ECC mode for the same reason whereas consumer video cards don't have this option as they are non-ECC mode only.

    I thought FP64 is used mostly for CUDA and not much use for CAD software

    I don't think there is any.

    See my previous answer about running the card in a different slot, other than that your only other alternative is a S2011-3 system and the fastest cpu is a 6850K 3.6GHz (4.0GHz Turbo), with 40 PCI-e lanes

    I'd suggest getting cases that are larger and with a lot of fans so they are quieter or if you want to buy quiet PC's then have a look here. The first GTX1080Ti's coming out are FE (Founders Edition) and as the GPU can pull 250 Watts you may want to wait a while and get the ones with aftermarket coolers which should be less noisy, although having said that I don't know whether they actually will do as much number crunching compared to playing a shooter so this aspect may not be an issue if the card is only loaded by the CAD software to say 10%-20% of maximum performance.

    If you can choose your own RAM then you'd probably be better off with the fastest available you can get as it makes a big difference.
     
  20. KoroKoro

    KoroKoro New Member

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    Ironically, I wouldn't be overclocking the 7700K.

    7700 - 3.60 GHz base - 4.20 GHz boost
    7700K - 4.20 GHz base - 4.50 GHz boost

    The Dell cases have really really bad airflow... so making extra heat would be a problem. But as far as I can see, it is the same socket, so besides bios support, I don't see why they can't use it?

    Same goes with partner card fans... a blower fan would be ideal as the case can't breathe. It seems we can only get products offered by Dell (excluding alienware)

    Regarding pcie lanes... Inventor doesn't even use hardware acceleration so I guess its a moot question. Might be more important in the future though. As far as I know, Inventor is using Direct 3D. It used to be Open GL but not any more.

    Re calculations: we very rarely do any FEA or CFD or any meshing for that matter. But if we do, if the machine has to re-compute for validation, I don't think its a problem.

    But when you're waiting on commands that take 30~60 seconds... and a few hundred commands a day, it starts to feel like a waste of time.

    I'll have to talk to some of my colegues re: support. We've never had "approved / supported" hardware anyway so I'm guessing they've never needed it to begin with.
     

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