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Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Creator
Creator

Hello,

I have just recently started using NX Nastran (in addition to Solidworks Simulation) and I will most likely start using StarCCM+ or Openfoam in the near future. I am as of yet using my laptop for simulation and I have realized that, even though my laptop is a good one, in the long time run I will spend many more hours than necessary running the calculations. Of course the heavy I/O can be detrimental to the health of the SSD's and general hardware.

 

Therefore I am asking for recommandations regarding hardware setup on a limited budget. 

As I understand SSD in Raid 0 is a good thing and lots of L1, L2 and L3 cache memory, but from what I have heard it is hard to get a high enough write speed compared to the capacity of multiple cores. For instance if I have an 8-core processor... and run simulations using all 8, how high write speed is required of the SSD'S to prevent bottlenecking?

 

Hoping to get some real good input here :-)

 

9 REPLIES

Re: Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Solution Partner Phenom Solution Partner Phenom
Solution Partner Phenom

Dear Andreas,

Experts in NX NASTRAN makes the following recomendations:

 

Processors:

  • Prefer faster processors.
  • Choose large L2 or L3 processor cache. Larger caches provide improved performance.
  • Prefer multi-core processors.
  • In summary, maximum number of fast cores with large cache.

Memory:

  • Install as much memory as possible. Unallocated memory will be used by the OS for I/O cache.
  • Do not specify more than 50% of the memory for NX Nastran. This will leave the OS more room for I/O cache.

Disk:

  • Increase disk performance by using SSD disks. Faster I/O leads to reduced elapsed time.
  • PCIe disks are a new option. Actually outperforms SATA or SCSI hosted SSD.
  • Prefer multiple disks (1 + 4). One for the OS and the remaining disks in RAID-0 configuration for Nastran scratch, if using a RAID-O based in SSD disks the response is impressing!!.

GPU and Intel MIC:

  • GPU processing requires expensive high end card (Firepro W9100 with 16GB).
  • GPU card requires enough memory to hold Nastran module data in core.
  • GPU processing only helps for special problems (freq response with 5000+ modes).
  • Technology changing rapidly.

To learn more you can visit my blog in the following address:

https://iberisa.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/requisitos-hardware-de-nx-nastran/

 

Best regards,

Blas.

Blas Molero Hidalgo, Ingeniero Industrial, Director
IBERISA • 48004 BILBAO (SPAIN)
WEB: http://www.iberisa.com
Blog Femap-NX Nastran: http://iberisa.wordpress.com/

Re: Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Creator
Creator

I am currently looking at this rig/setup. It is quite pricey about 7500 dollars total including cabinet, os, etc.

 

Intel Xeon E5-1650 v3, Socket-LGA2011-3   6-cores 3,5GHz, 15MB cache
Intel Air Cooling TS13A
Kingston DDR4 2133MHz ECC Reg 64GB
ASUS X99-E WS, Socket-2011-3
PNY Quadro® K4200 4GB GDDR5
Samsung SSD 850PRO 512GB OS-disk

2x Intel® 750 SSD 400GB PCIe 3.0 HHHL in RAID 0 configuration write speed is 1200MB/s for each.


Does this system look well balanced, and should I use ECC ram or go for regular ram? I would like 128GB but, that alone adds 1000 dollars to the price.

Re: Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Solution Partner Phenom Solution Partner Phenom
Solution Partner Phenom

Dear Andreas,

Powerful machine, indeed!.

  • I would suggest to use a 256 GB SSD for the OS, this way you will have a lot of space for installing apps. You can save money instaed the cosly 512 GB SSD.
  • But better a RAID-0 based in four 256 GB SSD, to have a total of 1TB space, this way you save money as well in increase size. Plenty of space for the NX Nastran SCRATCH is critical!!.
  • Regarding RAM, of course, 128 GB is the target!!.

Best regards,

Blas.

Blas Molero Hidalgo, Ingeniero Industrial, Director
IBERISA • 48004 BILBAO (SPAIN)
WEB: http://www.iberisa.com
Blog Femap-NX Nastran: http://iberisa.wordpress.com/

Re: Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Siemens Phenom Siemens Phenom
Siemens Phenom

One caveat on the statement "Do not specify more than 50% of the memory for NX Nastran. This will leave the OS more room for I/O cache":

 

This is somewhat of a holdover from days when 16GB was a large amount of ram. As machines get more an more ram, particularly those with 128GB, 256 GB or more, this requirement is limiting. Yes, you want to leave memory for the OS to use for I/O Cache, but a more important goal is to eliminate I/O in the first place.

 

Look at the bottom of the .f04 file for typical runs, particularly at the size of the SCRATCH DBSET. If the HIWATER usage for SCRATCH and SCR300 is less than the amount of unrequested memory, you may be better off requesting more memory and increasing the allocation to SMEM.

 

Similarly, look at the BLOCKS RELEASED value in the BUFFER POOL statistics. Increasing the BPOOL allocation helps reduce that.

 

The goal is to reduce the HIWATER usage of SCRATCH and SCR300, as well as the BLOCKS RELEASED to 0.

 

Look at the memory allocation table at the top of the .f04.

  • TOTAL NX NASTRAN MEMORY LIMIT is the value specified by the MEM keyword
  • SCRATCH(MEM) AREA is the portion of the total specified by the SMEM keyword
  • BUFFER POOL AREA is the portion of the total specified by the BPOOL keyword
  • EXECUTIVE and MASTER typically do not have to be touched
  • USER OPENCORE is the remaining value after the other 4 have been removed from the total.

The USER OPENCORE value should be just over what the sparse solver or element iterative solver actually needs. From there, increase MEM and SMEM (since SMEM is a portion of MEM) to reduce  SCRATCH and SCR300 usage. Finally, increase BPOOL and MEM to reduce buffer pool BLOCKS RELEASED.

Re: Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Creator
Creator

Dear Andreas, Jim and Blas, thank you for your questions and tips.

 

I have to questions, if I may ask:

 

  1. I am a little bit confused:
    if we have say 256 Gio RAM, and we typically need say 100 Gio of scratch files, do we still need SSD for Scratch files?
    I thought SSD was to be used "instead" of RAM if you don't have much of such, am I wrong?
  2. I also read that it is recommended to have another drive for the Windows Page Files, therefore is the following an "ideal" configuration:
  • 1 HD for OS + software,
  • 1 HD for Pagefile,
  • 1 HD for data (prt, fem, sim, f04, f06, op2, etc...)
  • 1 HD for Nastran Scratch (or Ansys Swap) <-> or a lot of RAM

(1 HD can be HDD of SSD, 1 physical or 1 array Raid 0 of more than 1 HD)

 

yours sincerely,

 

tigny

Cyril

Re: Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Solution Partner Phenom Solution Partner Phenom
Solution Partner Phenom

Dear Cyrl,

The question is SSD vs. HD SATA drive, not SSD vs. RAM memory: SSD disks are say 10x times faster than regular SATA hard disks!!. RAM memory is always faster than any disk, being SATA or SSD, or a RAID-0 based in SSD disks.

 

The SSD is for storing the NASTRAN SCRATCH files created during solving any FE model, these space is temporal and the NX NASTRAN solver will delete after finishing the analysis. Then is important to have enough space to store the files, and also to be as faster as possible to speed I/O, then SSD recommendation..

 

The NX NASTRAN solver use RAM memory to solve equations: the target is to solve the problem fully in memory to avoid spilling to hard disc.

 

Also of course, for Windows OS a good recommendation is to have a separate stand-alone hard disc (better another SSD!!) for the pagefile.sys, not to use the some hard disc of the Windows OS.

 

Best regards,

Blas.

Blas Molero Hidalgo, Ingeniero Industrial, Director
IBERISA • 48004 BILBAO (SPAIN)
WEB: http://www.iberisa.com
Blog Femap-NX Nastran: http://iberisa.wordpress.com/

Re: Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Legend
Legend

Hi Cyril,

 

With 256GB RAM in the computer, I wouldn't bother with a pagefile, I would regain the disk space instead and set the pagefile to "none" at the OS, that saves you one disk :-)  SSD are very cheap these days, so I wouldn't bother with HD either.  Even the consumer grade ones are very good.

 

Our office is all SSD on all workstations, OS, local projects and local RAID0 for NASTRAN.  Only our fileserver is using HD, simply because it's 16TB.

Re: Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Experimenter
Experimenter

Blas,

 

We also are configuring a new computer to run Advanced Simulation with NX Nastran. 

 

We are pretty much set on the having 2 x 512GB SSDs but we are debating which way to go with the processor. We have 2 options:

 

1. 3.1GHz 10 core processor with 128 GB of ram

2. 3.5GHz 4 core processor with 64 GB or ram. 

 

In your post, you've said "In summary, maximum number of fast cores with large cache." and also to "Install as much memory as possible"

 

So given the choice, is it better to have more RAM with a slower processor or half the RAM with a faster processor?

Re: Desktop/Workstation hardware configuration for fast NX Nastran and rendering

Siemens Phenom Siemens Phenom
Siemens Phenom

As Nastran performance is typically limited by IO, you will see much better ROI on the machine with more ram. The best way to improve IO performance is to eliminate it all together. More ram allows you to do that.

 

You probably won't see a 0.4 GHz difference in processor speed.

 

Even with the best IO, SMP typically only effectively scales to 4-8 processors before it starts becoming IO bound as well.