iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Professional 3D Accelerators in SolidWorks 2001: September 2002 

September 30, 2002

We resume our examination of operation of professional accelerators in professional programs. This time we will carry out tests in another CAD system from Unigraphics. Last time we studied accelerators in the Solid Edge system, and today we have a similar system named SolidWorks, which will demonstrate operation of video cards from a little different standpoint. 

Tested cards 

In the tests I used all video cards we have in our lab,  as well as one "gaming" card. I must say that Matrox models are not pure gaming solutions. It seems that the company regards their cards the same way because you can hardly play comfortably on this card. I guess you understand that I'm speaking of the Matrox Parhelia. Why have I included it into the list? Matrox has recently released new drivers which passed the certification for some CAD systems, including SolidWorks 2001. This lets me hope that certification for other professional applications will also appear soon. As the the card and drivers are certified for professional applications we can use it on an equal footing with other solutions of this market segment, especially because its price makes it even closer to its professional siblings. 

The following driver versions were used: 
The ATI FireGL2 was tested with the ver.2088, the ATI FireGL8x00 - ver.3036. The NVIDIA based cards were tested with the latest official available version - 4041. The 3Dlabs Wildcat VP870 ran under the ver. 0423. The VP870 was estimated both in the maximum geometry mode and in the maximum texture one. The Parhelia was used with the drivers 

Test system configuration 

The cards were tested on the Intel's platform based on the Intel Pentium 4 clocked at 2533 MHz, ASUS P4T533 motherboard with 32bit RDRAM 512 MB PC4200, and Seagate Barracuda ATA IV hard drive of 40 GB. The ViewSonic P810 and ViewSonic P817-E, 21" each, were used as "visualizers". 

Testing technique 

The testing technique is unsophisticated - the only thing you have to do it to write down the results and carefully follow the test terms&conditions. A tested accelerator is inserted into the test system, then and the Windows XP Professional OS is installed anew, as well as the Service Pack 1. After that we install all necessary drivers for the hardware components. It's followed by installation of the automatic design and engineering system SolidWorks 2001 with the Typical set. The developers didn't provide any benchmark with the system, that is why we used tests from www.spec.org. The benchmark can be downloaded from http://www.spec.org/gpc/apc.static/prev_benchmarks.html

Originally the test was written by the experts from www.solidworks.com in Visual Basic and C for Windows NT and Windows 2000. After that it was optimized by programmers from SPECapc. The test involves most functions frequently used in designer's daily work. The source codes of the test are open, and you can look through them. If you want to test your own system make sure that the installed SoldWorks 2001 is patched with the Service Pack 5 or a higher version. To avoid any problems it's better begin the test right after start-up of the system. After every test you should reboot the system. 

Like the Solid Edge, the today's test has very strong requirements for the system, and I recommend that you read the help file first. All the tests were carried out in 1280x1024 at 32bit color. 

The test consists of several subtests dealing with a processor, video system and so on. We are certainly interested in the video system test. There are three test stages. To compare the cards we calculated the arithmetic mean out of three possible values. The results obtained strongly depended on something we couldn't identify. Nevertheless, I think that the arithmetic mean does reflect the truth.

In the driver settings I switched off vertical synchronization, line anti-aliasing and enabled  optimization for the SolidWorks where it was possible. 


First I will shows you screenshots of the test scenes so that you have an idea what's it's all about. ;-) It's a real problem to get them as according to the test terms we couldn't even move the mouse. But I still managed to get several screenshots. They are obtained on different cards as there is no noticeable difference between them, that is why you may think that they are received with the card you are mostly interested in. 

The output data are quite complicated; here are the results: 

sw2001.Result.graphics = 4.19 
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time = 74.66 
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio = 4.53 
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time = 5.23 
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio = 4.67 
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time = 1.86 
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio = 5.38 
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time = 30.30 
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio = 3.66 
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time = 66.06 
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio = 5.20 
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time = 53.83 
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio = 2.50 

Here I chose the first variable "sw2001.Result.graphics". You will understand why from the readme file for the test. Later you will see complete data for all cards in consideration with all these values. The table also shows arithmetic mean values as it makes no sense to include all data. 

So, here is the diagram we are going to use to compare the accelerators. 

Unfortunately, the comparison is not pure as the test greatly depends on a central processor, even in spite of the fact that the SPECaps carried out the video test. But even here we can clearly see that the Matrox's efforts to make the certification of the drivers and card for professional applications are futile. The quality is good, but the speed... Although such a poor result is not a disaster yet, it causes worry because exactly this driver was first to get certification for operation with the SolidWorks. 

The Quadro 2 copes with its task equally to the Quadro 4. None of the Quadro cards has problems with quality. The FireGL line is in the same situation, and the FireGL 2 proves again that it's not too old yet. 

Although the numbers are not great, they still show that even an owner of the Quadro 2 MXR can consider himself on owner of the Quadro 4 900 in operation in the SolidWorks 2001 :) 

Finally, here is the table I promised you; I guess the results need no commenting on. 

FireGL 2: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 76.33
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.43
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.41
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.52
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 2.17
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 4.60
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 30.45
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.64
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 71.80
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 4.78
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 31.31
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 4.30

FireGL 8700: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 80.02
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.23
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.67
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.31
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 2.51
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 3.99
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 30.46
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.65
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 70.3
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 4.89
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 32.68
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 4.27

FireGL 8800: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 80.15
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.23
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.70
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.28
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 2.50
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 4.00
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 30.31
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.66
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 68.92
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 4.98
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 29.37
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 4.67


sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 262.96
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 1.29
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 9.34
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 2.62
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 3.29
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 3.05
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 67.1
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 1.65
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 275.58
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 1.27
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 70.83
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 1.92

Quadro 2 MXR: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 75.2
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.50
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.19
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.71
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 2.33
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 4.30
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 31.09
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.56
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 65.39
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 5.25
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 26.83
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 5.02

Quadro 2 PRO: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 72.91
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.64
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.20
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.69
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 2.22
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 4.51
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 31.45
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.52
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 60.45
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 5.68
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 26.88
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 5.02

Quadro DCC: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 72.94
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.64
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.17
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.72
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 2.22
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 4.51
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 31.48
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.52
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 72.03
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 4.77
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 26.48
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 5.09

Quadro 4 550: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 73.03
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.63
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.27
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.64
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 1.95
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 5.12
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 32.31
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.43
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 59.59
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 5.76
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 29.83
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 4.52

Quadro 4 700: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 73.56
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.60
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.19
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.71
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 2.41
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 4.16
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 30.55
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.63
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 60.11
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 5.72
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 27.86
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 4.86

Quadro 4 750: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 72.73
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.66
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.16
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.74
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 2.22
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 4.51
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 29.91
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.71
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 56.71
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 6.06
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 26.26
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 5.14

Quadro 4 900: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 72.51
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.67
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.16
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.73
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 2.30
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 4.35
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 29.91
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.71
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 57.03
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 6.03
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 27.04
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 5.00

VP870 Geometry: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 75.17
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.51
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.22
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.68
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 1.99
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 5.04
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 31.77
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.49
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 68.28
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 5.03
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 50.90
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 2.71

VP870 Textures: 

sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Time 74.89
sw2001.Result.graphics0.BottomCase.Ratio 4.52
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Time 5.13
sw2001.Result.graphics1.AssemblyLine.Ratio 4.76
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Time 1.95
sw2001.Result.graphics2.AssemblyLineTransparent.Ratio 5.15
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Time 30.79
sw2001.Result.graphics3.AirplaneEngine.Ratio 3.60
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Time 67.77
sw2001.Result.graphics4.SuzukiEngine.Ratio 5.07
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Time 55.32
sw2001.Result.graphics5.SuzukiEngineHLR.Ratio 2.44


So, the test measures task fulfillment time and calculates a certain score in accordance with the results obtained. After all tasks are completed the test calculates a general score which is shown in the summary diagram. The above tables clearly show where the cards perform well and where they lose. 


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