Earlier Pro/e's cannot but it looks as though Wildfire can.
There's a setting in config.pro for 'number of processors'
at any rate.
Go to Olaf Corten's site and grab the test files. Run the
computer both ways (exact same computer, just remove one
cpu) and see what happens. I'd kinda like to know myself ...
maybe here's an excuse to get that underpriced Origin 3400
I keep seeing on eBay :-)
(My guess it that Wildfire only uses more cpu's for the
rendering - since rendering is commonly done on many boxes
behind the scenes, while it seems pretty unlikely that they
rewrote the entire app to be thread-safe. Might be kewl if
you like to leave that Live Rendering thingy turned on tho.)
I'm using a double Xeon computer configuration myself for running Pro/E
Wildfire 1. Wildfire is not capable to use dual processors, only rendering
and regeneration of independent parts in an assembly (but I'm not sure about
that) can gain some profit from dual CPUs. But there is one main advantage
when dual CPUs are used. Even in case that Pro/E ceased to work (is not
responding - hung up) or is fully occupying one CPU, the system is still
fully responsible due to "free" second CPU.
Jus my two cents
There are advantages to 2 CPUs, even though Pro-E doesn't of it's self
utililize dual processors except for some functions such as video. For one
thing you can assign one of the processors to run Pro-E and have a processor
to run other things. Or one example I've run into recently, you can run an
analysis program and still have a processor available to work on other
things such as Pro-E while it is running.
Yes, it'll be faster than it would on a single cpu system. But nothing like
double, maybe 25-30% faster. While I've heard that Pro/e isn't optimized for
processor use, the system takes any multi-threaded application and parcels it's
thread out in a way to keep both processor busy. What I've seen on a dual Xeon
system is that both processors, when running Pro/e, stay about equally busy.
Optimizing Pro/e for dual processors would probably achieve results that are
like parallel processing, but it might also not be the best thing for the
It could, in fact, cause lockups that wouldn't happen otherwise when the system
deciding, chiefly, on the allocation of resources, allowing it, instead, to act
if it were the only program/processes/threads in the universe. This was always
biggest weakness of Windows systems, one that's somewhat gotten away from with
Brings to mind the expression: "Be careful what you wish for."
What you're seeing then is that the system requirements are
being run on one cpu while Pro/E uses the other. Actually,
it's not that straightforward. A multi-tasking operating
system does many tasks besides just running a single
application. (DOS does not, which is what makes it actually
superior to Win NT for machine control.) The kernel scheduler
decides what to run and when. Under normal circumstances an
application does not get to "just run." It's being interrupted
all the time so that other computer services can also run. In
Oonix the services are usually called daemons, but they exist
in WinNT as well. With a single cpu Pro/E is being interrupted
all the time so that whatever else you have going (do ctrl-alt-
del in Win NT and then look at the running services) can ALSO
get some cpu time.
With two cpus those services don't need to interrupt pro/e's
time. HOW the time is apportioned is up to the operating
system's scheduler. OS/2 uses a round-robin approach - as
tasks come up to be operated upon they are stacked in a
queue. As soon as one task has finished on any cpu, the next
is sent to that cpu in a round-robin fashion. This ensures
that the cpu's are kept full. How NT does scheduling I don't
know, but it's not as efficient as OS/2 :) Tests years ago
showed two-cpu OS/2 servers whupping 4-cpu NT boxes by a
large margin. That was my experience with NT as well - it's
actually pretty shitty at smp. Irix is probably the best of
anybody - they have the unique ability to scale a single
image of the operating system (not clusters, which is a bunch
of separate boxes co-operating rather than a single large box)
over something like a thousand cpus. If they couldn't do this
they would be dead meat because today they have nothing else
to offer. In fact, with their stock price dropping to where
they are in danger of being delisted again, it surprises me
that Sun hasn't just gobbled them up for that one capability.
Effing imbecile management :-(
No, not at all. It isn't a matter of "optimizing" at all.
You have to go back into history a little bit here ...
obviously the first computers only had a single cpu. Hey,
gotta walk before you can run, right ? When people tried
to make a computer more powerful, what can you do ? Either
take the cpu you have and redesign it to run faster or how
about add another ? IF the application you are trying to
accomplish is amenable to multiple small chunks ( think
this way - serving ten thousand hits to a web page can
be broken into small pieces where twenty cpu's can each
handle x number, while streaming one continuous video can't
really be apportioned to a bunch of separate cpus ) THEN
smp makes good sense. For DOS smp would be stupid. A real
multi-tasking os doesn't necessarily mean that the user
is simultaneously running PhotoShop and Pro/E. It means
that you can be doing one thing while the os is also
running an ftp server in the background, burning a CD,
etc etc. You can see where smp would be great for this.
Now instead of one DOS box (Windows 98) you have several
under one controller.
This is the level where you're seeing 20-30% improvements
in Pro/E performance - because it's not being interrupted
by other tasks.
NEXT step is for the application itself to be written to
utilize more than one cpu. Many tasks that you wouldn't
think would profit from smp really *can* - for instance,
opening the app requires drawing the splash screen, drawing
a window, then filling the window, reading your config.pro
file, setting up resources, blablabla. Each task *could*
go to a separate thread rather than running them sequentially.
Each thread then gets assigned to a cpu by the operating
system, as they come up for processing. Boom ! NOW you got
an smp-friendly app. The kewl thing about threads is that
the same program can run on a single-cpu box or one with
sixteen. On multi-cpu hardware as a thread comes up for
processing it goes to the necxt processor. If you only
have one, it waits. If you have 32, it goes to the first
vacant spot. There is an obvious limit to this tho - when
the overhead of scheduling tasks takes more time than
*doing* the tasks, you've now gone backwards. That's why
sometimes you cna see an aplication run *slower* in smp
than on a single-cpu machine. Btw, here is where Unix
initially fell down - tasks can be split into processes or
threads. Processes take longer to create. Threads are faster
but not as safe. You can see where if one thread is reading
a file then modifying it while another thread comes along
to ALSO read that file and use it, if thread A has modified
it but thread B doesn't know about that and writes its OWN
modifications to the file you could end up with Big Trouble.
So apps which actually USE smp features have to be coded
to be thread-safe. And tested, as well :) Unix initially
didn't like threads but now they have "pthreads" which is
the same as threads on NT or OS/2 ... anyway ...
Pretty gross generalizations here but you get the idea.
There are many ways to deal with smp but overall, ANY
single-threaded app (such as Pro/E) will see *some*
benefit from running on a dual cpu machine. (In case
you get excited by the concept, more than two for a
desktop seems to make no difference whatsoever. I ran
a Netfinity with four cpu's for a while to play and
saw no improvement at all for desktop apps beyond two
cpu's.) An app which is written specifically to *use*
smp can see improvements more on the order of 80% or
so. I've done benchmark tests that showed an almost
linear improvement with math functions, but you couldn't
even *touch* the machine while they were running or you
lost your big-number benchmark :)
It would be kewl if Pro/E were multi-threaded. Then
you'd see more significant performance improvements
running on your smp box ... but the code is old and
rewriting it to please the small percentage of people
who have an smp machine can't sound too exciting to
PTC. Before you blast PTC for that, I don't think any
of the other cadcam apps are multi-threaded either.
Mastercam, Smurfcam, SaladWurx certainly are not.
VX, probably not. Instead of doing something trick like
that, they spent their money changing to Windows and
drawing new icons. Probably gives them a better r.o.i.,
but sheesh :( Maya is somewhat smp-friendly. I-DEAS,
don't know but it's about the only manufacturing app
that is as nice as Pro/E ... in fact, maybe nicer. It
*may* be smp-friendly but it's pretty unlikely. The only
commercial people I've seen who are *very* careful about
threads are in the OS/2 world and that's kind of a
byproduct of a failing in OS/2. Due to a problem with
OS/2's input queue, anything non-tricial that is *not*
multi-threaded and thread-safe can lock up the desktop.
Then the users will come to your house and kill you so
OS/2 developers end up with some of the best-performing,
most co-operative apps on the planet, more out of necessity
than anything else. Every cloud has a silver lining :)
According to this, one might interpet VX as being multi-threaded.
"There were many goals in developing what has become UPG2," says Mike
Crown, the director of Product Development at Varimetrix, "First and
foremost was to develop a kernel that had seamless integration between
solids and surfaces, where users could work between the two types of
entities and perform various functions-all the time without having to
first think about if an element is a surface or a solid or convert from
one to the other."
UPG2 uses what is known as a Proximity Compliant Tolerance Scheme to
selectively heal geometry on the fly, allowing for what Crown calls
"the fastest, most reliable geometry engine in the industry."
Essentially UPG2 is healing the model incrementally whenever necessary,
such as when two surfaces are intersected. This allows UPG2 to deal
with non-native data, regardless of its origin.
Another issue was performance, part of which was achieved by building a
multithreaded kernel. Even without multiprocessors, Varimetrix wanted
the kernel to have excellent speed when dealing with freeform surfaces.
Ah. That would indicate smp-friendly. Only way to know for
sure would to run a process-watching progam while VX was
running. There are several for OS/2, I'm sure Windows has
some as well.
I always thought Varimetrix was kewl and Mike Crown was no
slouch. Too bad they went over to the Dark Side :-(
Good to know, thanks.
By the darkside do you mean over to the Windows platform?
I believe VX was originally designed for UNIX workstations. Perhaps
that is why the kernel was designed to be multithreaded from the
Yes, if you see version 4 or so around, it's a really nice-looking
Irix app. Ran on other Unices as well, of course.
Nowadays it looks like a child's toybox :-( Stinking icon-mania.
We spent years learning to read in school, now we're supposed to
point and say "ga ! ga ! want !" or decipher what the sketch of
the nun with the arrow thru her head stands for ?
Okay, I much prefer Unix to that crap from Redmond but in this
case, OS/2 and Windows were way ahead of Unix. OS/2 in particular -
Windows stayed stuck in DOS mode until very recently, when they
finally discovered that Windows 98 et al were poop. Strange how
M$ can sell people on the most wonderfullest thing since sliced
bread this week, only to turn around next week and say that was
crap, now y'all have to buy *this* most wonderfullest thing !
and y'all go for it ... sad. But I digress .... OS/2 and Winick
were threading proponents while Unix was in love with processes.
Forking a process takes a lot of overhead. It's slow. Spinning
off another thread is fast and much finer-grained. Unix has come
around to that with pthreads now but in the beginning the Intel
users were ahead on this one. Wonder what Acorn and Amiga and
those did ?
This article, IMO, was one of the top three that Joe Greco ever wrote.
One of the most interesting things about this article to me was what Mike
Crown had to say about what the next big thing would be in CAD.
"Crown was excited about what he sees in the future-a whole new type
of modeling called Partition. While he was sketchy with the details, the
basic concept is that it will take hybrid modeling to an even higher level
and make it easy to model even extremely complex shapes, by interactively
providing the user with many more shape definition and modification
Think3 calls it Global Shape Modeling. They also have something called
Zone Modeling which I need a better understanding of. VX calls it
IMO, thinkID has better tools in this area than what I have seen in any
other modeler and a better UI to go with it.
You can decide for yourself as I have upload a Camtasia video
that shows a very complex model being build start to finish.
IP address - 220.127.116.11
Login - cnczone
Password - cadcam (note: password is case sensitive)
Port - 21
Max users - 3
The file is in a folder named:
The file is called:
This .avi file was done in a screen capture product called Camtasia.
IMO, Camtasia videos look horrible played in Windows Media Player.
The Camtasia Player is free and one can read about it compared to
Windows Media Player here:
The following are tips on how to work with Camtasia Player that
should make viewing this video more enjoyable:
Play / Pause: spacebar
Full Screen: alt+enter
Years from now we will know that Mike Crown was dead nuts on.... just like
he was about why someone needs hybrid modeling and why a CAD modeler is
much better off being built hybrid from the start. He though SolidWorks
would have a tough time adding surfacing functionality on top of the
Parasolid kernel.. man was he ever right about that !!!
I believe VX has actually built 3 kernels over the years.
VX has had their own integrated CAM since the very beginning
.... thru 5 axis simultanious mill.
In any case, I hope more Pro/E users will consider VX CAD/CAM
as it's fast, a joy to use and very robust.
VX is also a very nice company to do business with.... something
you don't hear about PTC. :>)
Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.