SolidWorks is often described as a single-threaded application.
Calculations have to be done one at a time. The results from a previous calculation are required to complete the next calculation. If you had two cores to compete the job it would not be any quicker. Buying a machine with lots of cores is therefore not always the answer.
In SolidWorks terms, it cannot calculate a cut feature, until an extrude feature, has been calculated otherwise there would be nothing to cut.
So why are multiple cores generally a good thing?
- Not all SolidWorks calculations are single threaded. SolidWorks can make use of approximately 1.5 processors.
- Most users run lots of other programs as well as SolidWorks. Just look at the Process tab of Task Manager to see how many hidden programs are running, as well as SolidWorks, on a typical PC.
As a result, 4 core processors are an excellent choice for most SolidWorks users however the following are examples of tasks that can utilize extra processor cores
- PhotoRealistic rendering is an excellent example of a process that makes use of multiple cores and is a perfect example of a multi-threaded application. When we use Photoview 360 we trace the light rays of an individual pixel. If we have 8 cores we can complete the calculation twice as fast as a 4 core processor of the same speed rating.
- For FEA users (SolidWorks Simulation) between 4 and 6 cores could be utilised, particularly if you run a lot of other processes at the same time.
- For Fluid Flow 6-8 cores are a good idea.
If you look at a 4 core system in task manager, you can often see 8 performance graphs.
This is because you have a processor feature called Hyper-Threading turned on. It makes a single core appear as two cores, enabling two streams of data to be processed at the same time by multi-threaded applications. However single threaded-application don’t make use of the With older Pentium 4 processor based machines we recommended turning off hyper-threading as often proved slower for single threaded applications. Modern I5, I7 and Xeon processors show very little difference in speed with Hyper-Threading turned on/off for SolidWorks.
As Hyper-Threading can only be turned on/off in the BIOS (i.e. you need to power down your machine) you might as well leave it on so any multi-threaded application you run is faster