New computer justification

I have been asked by my boss to try to gather some kind of data to help justify the expense of upgrading our whole engineering group's
computers (approx. 18-20 seats).
Right now, we are using some real dinosaurs. They are not very much fun to model on. They are so slow that you loose your train of thought for having to wait so much. I'd say we spend just as much time waiting as we do actually modeling or drawing.
The management and IS have talked about upgrading since I have been working here (about 9 months). They even come as close as to spec a new system from IBM (and it would have been rocket ships too). But nothing ever happens. My guess is that nothing will happen until they can no longer get support for these ancient systems.
Anyway, our current systems specs are all basically as follows:
Brand - Acer P4 - 2.6GHz 2GB Ram 3Dlabs Wildcat VP880 Seagate Barracuda ST340014A - 40GB (formatted FAT32, yes you read that correctly) WinXP Pro SP2
These are basically office computers for today's standards. We do (or at least attempt to do) some fairly complex parts and large assemblies with these systems such as plastics, sheetmetal, wiring, etc. We also run some analysis sometimes with Moldflow, Cosmos, and the built in Geometry Compare utility. We would even like to get into doing some Photoworks renders. But with these systems, it's near to impossible.
Does anyone know of any data, or any other means to gather/create data that would help justify an upgrade? My boss is all for new systems. And eventually it will have no choice but to happen. I just need to provide him some ammunition with management and IS to help speed up the process of getting new computers in here sooner.
Thanks, Seth Renigar
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Check out Anna Wood's thread at the SW disussion forum in the "performance" section. She's creating a spreadsheet of benchmarks for different systems. From what she's shown so far the E6600 Core 2 Duo's are pretty fast. You can also find the information on her blog http://designsmarter.typepad.com/solidmuse /
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I will have my spreadsheets updated this weekend with the results people have sent me this past week.
There is no doubt that the new Intel and AMD hardware is much faster then the old Intel P4 CPU's. I lean to Intel's C2D at the moment for the performance advantage. We look at about three years for engineering workstations before they are moved to other parts of the company. Sometimes a bit sooner if circumstances warrant it.
If you would like and do not have NDA issues, send me a couple of your problem files. I can run them on my systems I have and post times for re-build. I am hoping to get a library of parts to have available for people to do some benchmarking with. My e-mail is on my blog.
One of our systems down in our CNC department went south today, so we will be getting a new Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 computer up in engineering to replace the system we will hand down to the CNC guys. I have a Dell Precision 390 spec'ed out and I hope that management will let me get some competitive bids from Xi, Boxx and HP. The Dell's are a bit pricey in my mind and I am hoping some bidding with a few vendors will get us some better prices. I will be able to add to the results in my benchmark in a few weeks when our new systems arrive.
Regards,
Anna Wood http://designsmarter.typepad.com/solidmuse
On May 31, 9:32 am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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I have published a Google Spreadsheet of the results for re-builds on my punch holder part.
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pz7wTpIkC7LA28ybEyxyTPw
Regards,
Anna Wood http://designsmarter.typepad.com/solidmuse

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Thanks for doing this Anna!
No doubt it will help a lot of people justify a new PC, it's convinced me buying an M90 is not, too, much a waste of my money. Although I will go for the fastest processor available.
John Layne www.solidengineering.co.nz
wrote:

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Anna,
Been a while since I posted on this subject. Still no new computers in site.
I showed your list to my boss and showed him where we fell in the list (3rd from last at 348 sec). The fasted speed listed is approx. 3.5 times faster. That is a VERY significant difference.
Since this time is based on rebuild times, my boss asked me how much time that would save us a day. I told him that I was not sure, because it depended on how much time was spent rebuilding in a day. He asked how many times we typically did a rebuild in a days time, so I guessed at a number here. He asked me to start keeping a tic-mark count of how many times I rebuild in a day.
I started doing this today and realized that it wasn't really going to tell me what I needed to know, in order to help justify new computers. What I truely need to know is not how many times I rebuild, but how much time is spent rebuilding.
Does anyone know if there is some way to track how much time is spent doing a rebuild during a day? Surely there has got to be some utility or macro that turns on a timer or something when a rebuild begins, and turns it off when the rebuild is finished. If not there should be. If I could get an average time spent rebuilding in a day, based on the comparisons in Anna's list, I could easily determine how much time could be saved just doing rebuilds. This alone would definately be enough to justify new systems. Not to mention other non-rebuild related time savings.
Thanks for any help.
Seth
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Write the proc. time dedicated to SW on the task manager.
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On Jul 31, 10:46 am, "Jean Marc" <jean-marc.brun> wrote:
I don't follow what you are saying here. If you are talking about the CPU column on the Processes tab, that is always fluctuating. It doesn't add up the processing time.
Or is there something I am missing?
Seth
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if you go to the task manager and go to the process tab then go to >view>select columns you can select CPU time as a column then you can see how much processor time each application is using.
You may be able to make a corellation to processor time used and processor speed.
Steve R

I don't follow what you are saying here. If you are talking about the CPU column on the Processes tab, that is always fluctuating. It doesn't add up the processing time.
Or is there something I am missing?
Seth
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"Jean Marc" <jean-marc.brun> wrote in

This will show only the time for the current session, and SW pegs to core when rotating the view no matter the processor. So, this will not givea measure of time spent on rebuilds.
What is needed is an add-in that watches for rebuild events and times them, writing a log that spans sessions. Beyond my abilities, unfortunately. Something similar could also monitor load and save times, if I'm not mistaken.
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Dale,
I didn't know you could do this in the task manager. This is close to what is needed.
But I agree with you. The important thing is that it needs to track rebuild events only. Not everything that SW does. Even most of the slower processors can handle the medial SW tasks without any significant slowdown. There is no benefit to track CPU time for those chores. I even saw the task manager tracking CPU time just by mousing over faces.
However, this same add-in/utility/macro could also have added features to help with justifying other hardware areas, such as what you mentioned, load and save times. This might be useful to help justify a new hard drive. But this would simply be a bonus, not necessary
Programming is like WAY over my head as well. Is anyone up to the "task" of creating something like this?
Seth
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This has been rolling around in the back of my head a bit. Just timing the rebuilds will underestimate the impact of processor speed, just like task manager overestimates. What I mean is, timing rebuilds only does not capture the friction in the UI, like waiting 10 seconds to place a dimension on a drawing of a large assembly.
So, I think the best we can hope for is an estimate, with task manager reporting the upper limit, and rebuilds giving the lower limit.
I wonder if an event is raised at the beginning and end of view manipulation. Subtracting that from task manager's report would get us where we want to be, assuming that we wouldn't spend less time trying to get the model positioned with a faster CPU.
I may be thinking too hard. Waiting for rebuilds should show a significant return on a new workstation even though it underestimates the issue. I suspect that a full time user on medium to large assemblies should be replacing a CPU at least yearly. FEA users probably even more.
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Seth, this sounds to me like another valuable tool that should be in the SolidWorks toolset to allow the users to be able to quantify how they spend their time, so they can evaluate efficiency compared to other users and other machines.
This is the sort of down and dirty tool that is long overdue. And I can see for users who do large assemblies, it could be a life/ frustration saver in getting FACTS in front of decision makers.
Bo
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Bo,
Yeah I agree. It seems like someone would have already created some sort of tool like this already. That's why I'm asking if anyone knows of one.
I'm sure there are many of us that fight the battle with management about computer upgrades. A tool like this would definately help a lot of people that are frustrated using their turd computers, like me. Though there would still be some in management that would not be swayed by the numbers, it would still help the the majority.
Seth
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There is a utility in windows called performance monitor. Go to >start>run and type in perfmon this will bring up a utlity that will track processor usage.
Go here:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/Windows2000Pro/reskit/part6/proch29.mspx?mfr=true
for a tutorial on using the app.
Have not used it myself but this came up by doing a google search using "performance counters" as a search string.
Steve R
wrote:

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You could create a performance log/alert and track all the values you're looking for. It will take some setting up, but you get exact data. But no, you can not track specific actions within the program, just what the system resources are doing.
My best justification for a new computer is to set up an assembly that requires a rebuild, bring in your boss to show him something or ask his input, then tell him to hold on I this has to rebuild. Why he's there staring at the Windows hourglass with you, he usually tells you to look into getting a new computer. It takes only 1 time for them to realize how much time you waste a day to justify new computers.
--Scott

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Swizzle,
I have done this many times. My boss is well aware of the need. But he is kindof in the same boat. He has to give hard data to be able to justify requesting $70,000 to replace all of our engineering computers. He actually gave me the task of gathering this data. Hence my need for an app to track rebuild times.
I'm open to any other sources or ideas to help gather the data needed though....
Seth
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There's really no polite way to put this...
Every minute your boss spends stroking his...err...ego...and preventing your engineers from getting decent computers to work on is costing your company money. LOTS of money.
It's not just rebuilds that will be faster with new systems - everything will be 3x faster.
Let's say it saves on average 1 hour per designer/engineer per day. At $50 per hour (I'm certain the burdened cost is far higher) x 18 users. Your boss's knuckle-dragging is costing your company $900 per day or $216,000 per year!
An HP xw4400 2.6GHz C2D system with 2GB RAM and FX1500 is selling for $2150 right now. You could probably get it for less from Dell and other vendors.
Invest $38,700 or waste $216,000.
The choice is your boss's.
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I'm not a boss put when I discuss this with my boss the question always is "will I get drawings faster" and the answer is usually "not really". What usually happens is that we do more and more sophisticated things in our models (ie we grow up to our hardware capabilites) once again reaching the limits of the machines, that allows us to get a better product out the door with fewer errors. Also that little bit of processor lag allows for a bit of thinking about what you are doing and your next step.
Don't get me wrong I am all for the fastest latest and greatest I don't think the issue is as simple as stated and any good boss will know that.
Steve R

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Steve, what you just hit on is "How Good is Good Enough?" That really applies to all jobs.
I do really feel that training can help eliminate unneccessary redraw times and that a monitor to track them would at least quantify what % of a days work is waiting for redraws as they are likely to be a similar % of time regardless of whether the user is doing simpler or more complicated constructions.
Bo
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