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CAD Tech News (#123)

18 Mar, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff


Has Coronavirus Closed Your Office? Work from Home the Right Way

If you're transitioning from a company office environment to a home office, these six tips will help you create a more positive, productive experience for yourself and your coworkers.

By Lynn Allen

In an effort to embrace social distancing and stay safe amid this COVID-19 outbreak, many of us find ourselves face-to-face with a home office scenario. Some of you will welcome this change with open arms, while the rest will find it to be quite the disruptive adjustment. As someone who has worked from home for more than 10 years, I thought I'd share a few lessons I've learned and offer some advice for a successful transition. Done properly, working from home can be just as productive as working in a company office, if not more so.

Success in the home office requires self-discipline, plain and simple. Distractions are readily available — and more fun than work. It is easy to waste a day at home and accomplish nothing on your to-do list, so you need to focus, focus, focus! Read on for six tips to help you do just that.

1. Set concrete office hours — and stick to them! Working from home should match your experience in the office as closely as possible. Setting up home office hours will help you as well as your coworkers. During this time, you will be focused on your job (not Facebook or the laundry), and readily available should anyone need to reach you. This probably means sitting in front of your computer for the majority of your day, just as you would in the office. Mark this schedule on your calendar and make it a habit to start and end work at approximately the same time every day, whenever possible — be consistent.

Note: Since many schools are closed right now, some of you may be caring for children at home, and may need to alter your standard work hours as a result. Ideally, your manager and teammates will work with you to accommodate a revised schedule.
2. Choose a home office location that's free from distractions. I have the option to turn any part of my house into my office — and I have! You may not have this luxury (especially if your children are home from school), so do your best to find a distraction-free zone where you can focus on the work at hand. In a perfect world, this would include a door you can close when needed and some healthy light from the outside world (but limit distracting views). A decent chair is important, so you won't be in pain at the end of the workday. And some space to spread out would be nice, especially for those of you who are working on CAD/designing/engineering tasks.

Don't forget to take note of the Internet connection/mobile phone signal strength in your home; steer clear of any dead zones when selecting your home office location.

Note: Do not, under any circumstances, work from your bed. That is a definite home office no-no. There are a myriad of reasons why you shouldn't work from your comfy, cozy bed (even though it's the easy thing to do and we've all done it at some point). You need separation between work and sleep — period! Otherwise, your body will get confused: Are you working or are you sleeping? Naps come all too easily when you work from your bed, and sleeping at night will become increasingly more difficult.
TheVisualsYouNeed / stock.adobe.com
TheVisualsYouNeed / stock.adobe.com

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Lynn Allen is the global technology evangelist for Dassault Systèmes.

 

Herrera on Hardware: The Traditional Computer Memory Hierarchy — and Its Impact on CAD Performance — Are Evolving

The basic tenets of the tried-and-true memory hierarchy still apply, but it's worth knowing how recent disruptors can improve performance — and perhaps shift the traditional balance.

By Alex Herrera

Most of us know that the purpose of a computer's memory (also commonly referred to as DRAM) is to store data and instructions, both for the operating system (e.g., Windows) and for our applications (e.g., SolidWorks). An application's instructions are run by the processor, which reads and writes that data to and from memory as we load, design, and store our CAD models.

But fewer people realize that what we refer to as memory or DRAM is actually part of a larger, hierarchical data storage chain. DRAM is a critical component of that hierarchy, and one we heavily focus on when configuring and purchasing a new workstation, as insufficient memory capacity or bandwidth can cripple performance, throttling well below what the system's otherwise high-powered CPU or graphics processing unit (GPU) would be capable of. But it's not the only critical performance component, so understanding how it both supports and is affected by other subsystems — most notably storage drives — is helpful in determining the type and speed of memory best suited to your CAD workstation.

I'd like to introduce the concepts and tradeoffs of different layers in the hardware memory hierarchy, and explain how the relative sizes can help — or hinder — performance on your CAD workloads. For now, we're looking at this a bit more qualitatively, but I'm also planning a future column with more real-world quantitative metrics on how to help dial your next workstation hardware configuration's CPU/memory/storage options to best streamline your workflow processing.

Why the Memory Hierarchy Exists, and How Its Structure Affects CAD Performance

With the exception of the computation that goes into 3D graphics, which is mostly the burden of the workstation's GPU, all the code execution — for your CAD application execution as well as all the OS and user-processing overhead — falls to the CPU. And ultimately, how fast that execution completes is primarily a function of two limits: First, how fast that CPU's internal datapaths and execution units can process instructions and perform the indicated mathematical and logical operations, and second, how well the system's memory and storage subsystems can load and store data to and from the CPU to supply that instruction stream. And while we often focus on the GHz rating and core counts for the CPU model we spec in our workstations, how well your machine can handle that second limit that can often matter just as much in determining your ultimate computing throughput. Read more »

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Alex Herrera is a consultant focusing on high-performance graphics and workstations.

 

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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff