As you may know, virtually all professional software applications are hindered in some way by performance bottlenecks. From inadequate hardware and legacy software code to poor end user software practices, these bottlenecks manifest themselves in a variety of forms.
As a leading innovator of professional, high-performance desktop workstations, Boxx makes a concerted effort to address your workflow's software-specific bottlenecks related to computer hardware. In this article, we will outline key hardware components in your workflow and also explain which key features drive peak productivity.
High Frequency CPUs
One of Revit's biggest performance bottlenecks is the CPU - specifically, the frequency of the CPU in your system. Revit is referred to as "frequency bound," meaning that the application's performance is bound to the clock speed of the processor and not the number of CPU cores. The reason for this is that Revit, (like nearly all CAD applications), is single-threaded and in most instances, will only make use of a single core. This is often where we see a big difference between Xeon and i7/i9 processors. The clock speed is often more important than the amount of cores.
Intel Xeons are great for multi-threaded tasks like rendering and simulation. However, the more cores a CPU has, the lower the clock speed will be. There is often a misconception when it comes to CAD systems in that in order to qualify as a workstation, you need to have dual CPUs and that is simply not true. Instead you should be thinking about what is the best tool for the job. For CAD design, you need the highest frequency CPU.
How Much Memory?
You need enough RAM so that you don't have to swap or borrow from the hard drive, i.e., the virtual memory. If you are in the process of configuring RAM on your new workstation, take a good look at what you are currently using. Open a Revit model that is representative of your larger project files and monitor the memory usage for that file. If it is approaching your maximum, then you should go with more RAM for your new machine.
This will ensure accommodation for future design complexities with greater memory requirements over the life cycle of the machine.
When Revit opens a model, it is completely loaded into the computers memory. That is why Revit is so memory hungry. The amount of memory needed to run Revit smoothly is about 17 times the size of your project file. When the user executes a command, there is a lot of interaction between the memory and the processor.
Tasks like modifying level heights, structural analysis, energy simulations, and calculations of MEP systems will benefit from fast system memory. Also, be mindful of other memory-hungry applications you rely on in addition to Revit like 3ds Max, or standalone rendering engines like Lumion.
Much like the CPU component, many users are under false impression that they need the most advanced professional Graphics card, like and Nvidia Quadro P5000 or P6000 for example, in order to accelerate their Revit viewport. however, high-end Quadro
graphics cards like these are usually overkill for most 3D CAS design workflows. This may sound counterintuitive because if you're experiencing poor interactivity within Revit's viewports, it seems natural to blame choppy visual feedback on an underpowered graphics card. While Autodesk is constantly improving Revit to make more use of the graphics card, currently, the majority of viewport changes are handles by the processor.
The vast majority of Boxx customers opt for the Nvidia Quadro P2000 or P4000, as we recommend saving money on an expensive GPU and allocating that money for the fastest CPU your budget allows.
Another significant productivity killer can be the speed of your network coupled with the speed of your local storage. Revit models are getting more and more complex, leading to extremely large projects files of 10, 20, 30 gigabytes or even more. Many Revit users collaborate with each other on a central project file over a LAN.
Fast local storage will benefit local changes that need to be synchronized to the central model, but you'll also benefit from fast local storage when working on projects with linked files.
Linked files benefit from fast local storage because when you open a project with linked files, they are temporarily stored in your Windows Temp folder. But these linked files also need to travel the network. The network is the bottleneck here.
High Speed Network
Due to the need to transfer large project files over the network, you'll want the fastest network you can afford. Gigabit Ethernet is very common these days and depending on the size of your project files, can be adequate for the file-based work sharing on a local LAN. As project size and complexity increases, you will likely notice delays when synchronizing updates to and from a central project.
Upgrading your network to 10GbE can greatly reduce sync times for large files, but you will need to weigh the benefits vs. cost of deploying 10GbE network infrastructure which includes cables and switches.
Another consideration is that most workstation motherboards currently do not have onboard 10Gb Ethernet Ports. Although a common solution is to use PCIE 10Gb network card, you should carefully factor this option into your overall system configuration as the network card would occupy a PCIE slot, possibly limiting more advanced multi-GPU configurations if your workflow incorporates other GPU-accelerated applications in addition to Revit.