With SolidWorks 2009 just around the corner, many users are wondering about the true performance gains that have been touted . Every year SolidWorks releases a new major release with 250 enhancements but what really makes users believe the release is worthy to upgrade to is mostly based on performance. Looking back through the years we used to purposely leave out details in our designs that were "unnecessary" or were just details that were not needed for production drawings. Today we not only place fasteners in our assemblies but want them to have threads and all the elaborate details that make an exact replica. These trends are why we as users push the envelope of performance every release and expect more in the future.
Performance has always been a theme for the SolidWorks R&D team, but this year the performance gains seem to be what are most noticeable in SolidWorks 2009. What SolidWorks has termed "Raw Performance Improvements" targeted assemblies ranging from 5,000 to 100,000 parts while performing various common tasks on these large data sets. Obviously advancements in 64 bit computing, mainly addressing larger quantities of RAM, have opened the doors for working with these data sets on a PC. Beyond hardware and operating systems there are still many ways software manufacturers can re-code how certain processes handle memory hungry procedures and make them more efficient. So let's take a look at the numbers for SolidWorks 2009:
- Assemblies - 2.6X faster than SolidWorks 2008
- Drawings - 6.2X faster than SolidWorks 2008
- Frequent Commands - 8X faster than SolidWorks 2008
"Frequent Commands" refers to common operations like editing the assembly and switching to a drawing, creating views with dimensions, saving and panning, etc. Overall most users will see approximately a 65% increase in performance with SolidWorks 2009 which is pretty significant.
Technology advancements like SpeedPak, simplified representations of an assembly, allow SolidWorks to reference critical interfaces without being required to load all the components into memory. This performance boost is then handed off from assemblies to drawings allowing many of the critical aspects like dimensions and views to be created without having to resolve any of the suppressed or "SpeedPaked" components. This reorganization of how SolidWorks utilizes the computer's resources has paid off in the performance department.
Consolidation of steps is also an area of focus for SolidWorks 2009 with the introduction of features like slot sketch, solid to sheet metal and weldment grouping, which allows a users to place multiple weldment profiles within a single command. None of these advancements allow SolidWorks 2009 to create anything unique compared to it's predecessor, however these capabilities remove the tedious steps in order to create these features. Along this same efficiency theme, Instant3D now reaches over to assemblies, allowing the user to modify parts utilizing the all familiar "drag to size" functionality introduced in the 2008 release.
Finally a very important area of focus is multi-threading. SolidWorks has been multi-threaded for years but not in the areas that have the greatest impact. Background processes like HLR, view rotation and even PhotoWorks, which renders as a threaded process have been around for at least of few releases. SolidWorks 2009 has put the focus on some of the most intense processes like running an analysis in SolidWorks Simulation and threaded that process so you can continue to work with SolidWorks while the study or studies are being solved. This alone can bring dramatic performance gains especially since most systems ship with dual or even quad core processors. Utilizing these extra processors is the future to performance gain in SolidWorks.
Overall, SoildWorks 2009 seems to have put it's money where it's mouth is with respect to performance and I hope this focus continues to future releases. Growing complexity in design is inevatable, which is why we will push SolidWork 2009 to the edge and 2010 will need to push the performance envelope once again. In talking with many beta testers, performance is reason many are thinking of upgrading to SolidWorks 2009 at SP0 instead of waiting till SP2 or later. ~Lou