DX software products are computationally intensive programs with large file i/o requirements, and for this reason, it’s not just a simple matter of getting a faster processor or larger hard disk to increase performance. It’s further complicated by the choice of 32-bit vs 64-bit operating systems. This document will guide you to setting up your computer hardware for use with EDX products.
32-bit vs 64-bit
One of the biggest boosts to performance can be the switch to a 64-bit operating system (OS). With current 32-bit processors and OS’s, there is a maximum limit 4gb of memory that can be used by windows system processes. Our programs can access large data sets, and this can easily push the software memory needs past what windows can handle. The user will first notice the program slowing down, taking more time to return mouse control, move though dialog boxes, and repaint the map display. In extreme cases, it can course the program to terminate with out of memory errors. Switching to 64-bit removes this memory bottleneck. Memory addressing is done differently, so the operating system can access more processor space memory if it’s present in the computer. Note, this only works of you have a 64-bit OS running on the 64-bit machine. Starting with version 8.0/11.0, EDX software will be available in 64-bit for all products, except Building Editor and SignalIQ.
Current CPU’s range in speed from 2.5GHz to 3.5Ghz, with laptops generally being on the lower end, and desktops on the higher end. Processor speed doesn’t make as much of a difference in performance with EDX software as you might expect. for example, a 3.5Ghz laptop represents an approximate 30% increase in speed, but you won’t see a corresponding 30% decrease in the time it takes EDX to do it’s work. That said, overall, faster is better if you can afford it. How many cores the processor has is another decision. The trend has been to add more cores to the processors, rather than increase the processor speed. Currently, EDX software is partially multi-threading. The main calculation engine is not multi-threading, but building of the display is. So multi-cores will not help much now, but in the future it will. The exception to this is if you’re building a server with the intentional of running multiple “virtual” instances of Windows/EDX Software. The EDX software wouldn’t necessarily benefit, but running multiple instances would.
- Minimum recommendation – Intel Core 2 duo (or equivalent).
- Standard recommendation – Intel Core i3. The Core i5 and i7 would be useful for the future, as their main advantage is multi-core, multi-threading.
- High-end server recommendation – Intel Xeon 4 core (min) up to 8 core.
Memory / Hard Drive
Memory has been discussed above. Most computers sold these days have decent speed and quality memory.
- Minimum recommendation – 4gb
- Better recommendation – 8gb and 64-bit OS
Hard drives are a place where you can gain some performance increases. A minimum of 20gb free is all that’s needed, and most computers today come with drives of at least 250gb or larger. Since a lot of our processing time comes with reading/writing to the hard drive, read/write/seek time can help, but having a high rpm is better. Another option that can dramatically decrease read/write/access times is switching to a solid state hard drive (SSD). However, not all SSD’s are created equal. There are issues relating to i/o and some questions on hard drive life span vs traditional hd’s. For a primer on SSD’s, click the following link(s):
Depending on your configuration, there are other options, such as running an external HD or SSD for your projects and data. It won’t run as fast as internal to the computer, but it can give you greater options in project and data portability.
- Minimum recommendation – 250gb 7200rpm traditional HD
- High-end recommendation – 250gb SSD
While there are a lot of high-end graphics cards out today, EDX software does not require or use much in the way of processing for graphics. Since we are displaying bit-mapped images or study results, other maps and data, it’s more an issue of how much computer memory you have (see above). An area that can benefit from graphics processing is the ability to support multiple monitors at higher resolutions. While the minimum specs do the job, having multiple monitors running at 1920×1080 gives you the ability to expand the application window over both monitors giving you a huge workspace. You can look at a large area, or have multiple views open side by side for viewing. along with EDX on one monitor and all your other apps on a second monitor. Windows supports dual monitors natively, so generally there is no need for a special graphics card. What is absolutely necessary is the that graphics bit-depth be 32-bit.
- Minimum recommendation – 1024×768, 32-bit graphics resolution.
- High-end recommendation – 32 bit multiple monitor 1920×1080 or larger resolution.