CAD Manager's Newsletter (#276)

8 Feb, 2012 By: Robert Green

:: Choose the Right CAD Workstation Components 

You've got a limited budget for new hardware — learn how to get the most performance bang for your buck!

Ah, a new computer. Nothing evokes that Christmas-morning feeling quite like a fresh, fast computer that boasts lots of open drive space. Too bad it only appears once every few years. As a CAD manager, you may play a major role in selecting that shiny new workstation hardware, or you may defer to your IT department. Either way, you need to understand how to specify the best-performing equipment for your users.

We'll start by breaking down the components of the workstation and emphasizing which part is most crucial for various CAD computing tasks. I am assuming that although you aren't necessarily an expert, you do have a working knowledge of computer components. Hopefully it'll be clear that there really is no "best computer" for any given user, but if you know what to look for you can find the best computer for your specific needs and users. Here goes.

Priority 1: Cores

In any computer, be it a compact desktop, full-blown workstation, or notebook, the processing happens on the core(s). With the possible exception of a full-blown animation/rendering computer (more on this later), no single component has more to do with performance. Therefore, your purchase decisions should start at the core.

Multiple cores have become the norm in recent years, with four-core (quad-core) architectures like the Intel i7 becoming very common even in notebook computers. Of course, not all quad-core machines are the same. As an example, Intel Xeon quad-core machines are often built around chip sets that offer faster processing speeds, more cores, bigger data caches, and more RAM than most i7 machines (more on this later). Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: Build a Better Budget

You already know you'll need to buy new hardware and software this year — now you've got to tell management about it.

In this final installment of my "New Year’s cleanup" series, we'll focus on mapping out your budget for the year. Why? Because if you don't ask for money, you'll never get it! New software, workstations, peripheral devices, and servers won't just show up on their own — you have to build the budgeting case for them.

Here's a great way to update your budget with minimum hassle:

Draw up a bare-bones item list. Look at last year as a baseline, then increase items that were underfunded, trim those that were too high, add things that you forgot, and eliminate everything you won't need.

Scale up — and down. If one department or workgroup is growing, scale its CAD budget up accordingly. If another is shrinking, lower its budget. If lots of new projects are on the way, consider how much the company will grow to undertake the project load and expand the budget to meet the coming need. Read more »

Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at; if I use it in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

Geometric Releases Free 3D CAD Viewer for Multiple Platforms
Software developer Geometric has released Glovius, a free, extensible, customizable 3D visualization tool that operates on the JT file format. Its add-ons allow users to import CAD files from multiple platforms including CATIA v5, NX, Pro/ENGINEER, Creo, SolidWorks, and Autodesk Inventor. Glovius runs on Windows and as an app for iPad/iPhone and Android systems.

:: Events

Introduction to BIM with Vectorworks Architect
February 15, 2012
11 a.m. PT
This webinar from NOVEDGE will explore Vectorworks Architect 2012, including its latest features and report capabilities. Read more »

BIM Spectrum Virtual Event
February 16, 2012
10:30 a.m. ET
IMAGINiT's interactive online conference will examine how 3D models are used in multiple disciplines to create and manage building data, from the first survey through to maintenance and retrofitting. Attendees will hear from both industry leaders and IMAGINiT experts. Read more »

CIMdata 2012 PLM Market and Industry Spring Forum
March 29–April 25, 2012
Various cities
These events will offer insights into the current PLM (product lifecycle management) economic climate and trends. CIMdata will also provide its analysis of 2011's PLM market results. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

CADspeed Blog Post:
AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management, Part 4: Managing Your Move to AutoCAD WS

A look at AutoCAD WS from a management level, rather than an operational level. Read more »

CADspeed Blog Post:
WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 4: Secure Your WiFi Network

Before you get to work performing all of those high-speed transfers of giant files, you have to consider security. Read more »

Complete Cyon Software Survey, Qualify to Win a Cadalyst Subscription
Do you use CAD, CAE, BIM, IPD, or PLM software? You can receive a free copy of the survey results and enter to win a free year of Cadalyst magazine! Read more »

Does PLM Belong in the Cloud?
Accessing data, processes, and business intelligence in the cloud can help global companies leverage critical resources and manage complex analytics — if it's done correctly. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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