So the question is has hardware finally caught up with poor Civil 3D architecture?
It appears that it has. I recently went to Stanford University, Center for Integrated Facility Engineering, to test out newly available hardware. NVIDIA has recently released a new line of video graphics based on the Pascal architecture and I was able to get my hands on a new P2000 video card.
The Center for Integrated Facility Engineering studies BIM and other related topics. The researcher, Forest Olaf Peterson, I was working with is interested in BIM and workspace planning in relation to Heavy Civil Construction. The data set is a from a project modeled from a Caltrans project in Merced County that includes a bridge, retaining walls, ramps, and mainline reconstruction. The purpose of the research was to see how well modeling could be used to do workspace planning.
To start we need a benchmark of testing. I’ve got a fairly recent Dell Precision Laptop (7710) with an older NVIDIA Quadro M3000M. Using the same data set I’m seeing worse performance than I saw with the new graphics card. The drawing took longer to open and navigating the model ended up with more pauses and freezing. My laptop has a XEON CPU E3-1505M v5 @ 2.8GHz which uses turbo to increase the CPU up to 3.4 GHz.
The data set is quite old. It was started around 2013 and at the time computers had a hard time keeping up. The researcher tried out numerous video cards, computers, memory, and settings to try to get something to work. Unfortunately he spent more time waiting on Civil 3D then doing his actual research.
The video card was tested on a rebuilt computer. It had an older AMD FX-9590 @ 4.78 GHz processor on a new mother board, new memory, and a bigger cooling system. The performance was decent. The drawing opened in a relatively quick time of 1 minute and 30 seconds. The panning and zooming was improved over my laptop. There still was the freezes that occur in Civil 3D, but it was manageable to navigate the model without much of a headache. The researcher noted that performance was way better than previous hardware setups. Here is a video of the computer in action.
Here is a link to the computer specifications.
Overall the new video card performed well, better than I expected. I expected no change and was pleasantly surprised that it performs so well.
Also while I was there was a server that had been setup to try out some new technologies. The specs for the server is located here. The server setup is a bit pricey at about $35k, but it provided improved performance. The server is a SuperMicro Superserver 1028GQ-TRT + 4xM60 Design with 2x E5-2699 V4 2.2Ghz 22Core CPUs, 256GB Memory, 2x Intel S3520 150GB SSD SATA, 4x NVidia M60, DP 10GB Ethernet, 2P 8GB FC HBA, 3 Year Warranty. The server provided improved performance over the workstation. At the time of testing there was only one user on the server, so there might be some degradation of performance at full load. The server was less laggy and had improved navigation ability. Here is a video of the server in action.
The NVIDIA Tesla M60 video card in the server is based on a different technology than the NVIDIA Quadro P2000.
The video cards come out starting this month at OEM suppliers. I might see about upgrading my card when it becomes available more widely.
Note NVIDIA supplied me the P2000 video card without charge. One of the occasional benefits of being a blogger.