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building comp for CAD/CAM and computational purposes

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July 25, 2006 7:51:48 AM

im building a computer that will be dedicated to CAD and other computation intensive programs (computational fluid dynamics). i was wondering what type of setup i should be looking at?

the fad for OCign the pentiumD805 seems both popular and inexpensive. i was wondering if i could build two such computers and allow them to work in parallel (similar to having multiple processors within a server). is this possible? how would i go about doing this if not, what would you recommend?

tia,
Gary
July 25, 2006 9:20:17 AM

Hi Gary,

I am no expert in this but I am still very interested. I am in engineering myself.

If you want to build a cluster, you probably want to lean down all your slave PC's. Your slave PC's are going to need the CPU, tons of RAM depending on your simulation, chucks of hard drive space (don't know how much is going to be stored on the distributed machines)... and that's about it. You don't even need monitors/ keyboards/ etc, just get a switch or something.
For your master PC, you definitely want a huge HDD cause your simulations is going to flood you in seconds (you do CFD, you know what I mean). Depending on your CAE demands, you might want a very powerful engineering video card, like a FX quadro type, for your master computer.

About the choice of hardware, the whole point about the 805 is that you can overclock them like crazy. That comes with more complex cooling rig and a lot of settings you need to play with. If you are doing CFD, running full load for 360 days of the year, 805 might not be your most stable choice (beucase of the heat and stuff). You can get some cheap Pentium D 950, 960 CPU after July 27th. At the same time save money on the mobo and get some cheap cases. You don't need to waste money on performance in one chip, just get something with best performance per $$$ and then a lot of them.

Also, some people build their cluster for Linux, cause they have native parallel computing support. It is possible with Windows as well, there are a couple 3-rd party add-on for that. The new/future update for windows server will have native parallel computer support (finally).

let's see:
slave PC's:
case w/ power: $60-ish
mobo (with onboard video): $80-ish
Pentium D 950/960: $150-ish
4Gb ram: $350-ish
+ cost of HDD and you are good to go

Wish you success with your CFD simulations!

Regards,
Eric
July 25, 2006 8:03:47 PM

Thanks a lot Eric. I'll keep you posted.
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July 25, 2006 9:16:33 PM

Hi !
I am in process of building my own CAD/3d workstation.

What CAD are you using ??? The thing is if all you do is 2d, Quadro will be useless. So make sure that all your software has support for OpenGL.
One thing I found out, if you need Quadro video card, take a look on the ebay you can find cheap Quadros.

If you don't need much, take a look at QuadroFx 1400 seris, this will suit for most CAD works.
July 25, 2006 9:51:52 PM

Yea the choice of programs does make a lot of difference in the choice of hardware. In my case for example:

I CAD with Solidworks, which is a beginner, fully 3D, parametric design package. You have analysis (structural, CFD, dynamics) add-ons if you want. And even for medium size projects, it is still not very demanding on the system. I can get a cheap gamming video card and still perform seamlessly. And nowadays, most CAD software have "large assembly" mode, which simplifies the rendering for huge projects, making it very friendly even for computers with cheap video cards (cheap = 200-300 bucks range).

However, if the primary use is for analysis , e.g. stuctural FEM or CFD(ANSYS, ABAQUS, NASTRAN, CFX, FLUIENT, STARCD..........) , you will find that due to the limit of computational power, the geometries are often simplified A LOT before going into the analysis solver. This means there is no need for such powerful graphics anymore. If you design something that will require the use of a Quadro graphics card, the analysis will probably NOT run on a single PC. If you do both serious CAD and serious analysis, get your company to pay for your new cluster!

Good luck engineering!

Eric
July 25, 2006 11:01:27 PM

Yeah, SolidWorks is no problem even on my laptop. However, I am looking more towards the avenues of ANSYS and Fluent.

Fluent at least, it prides itself on being able to run on well equipped desktop computers. Thats what I am hoping for...

I must say that I am not too knowledgable on graphics cards. Could you tell me more about this the advantages of "Quadro?"

Unfortunately, I am trying to build this cluster as an entrepreneurial endeavor as I go through graduate school, so price is absolutely vital.

Thanks again for the help. Any good resources for cluster computing? Perhaps I should look at Woodcrest Core Duo 2s?
July 25, 2006 11:32:39 PM

Hi !
my advice, try going to www.cgtalk.com, there is hardware section, ask there, pleanty of knowledgeable people there, they will tell you all about Clusters.
!