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What hardware to buy? One man's opinion...

Question asked by JERRY_MARKETOS on Apr 27, 2004
Latest reply on Apr 27, 2004 by JERRY_MARKETOS
What hardware to buy - one man's opinion

From time to time, we receive a request for advice regarding which hardware is recommended
for running GENESYS software.  Truth is, the answer to this can vary depending on
who you ask.  We publish minimum recommended hardware elsewhere on the website
and in the literature, but those who ask are often focused beyond the minimum.

For those who don't want to read all the text that follows, I'll cut to the chase:
(although you should know the answer can change, depending on specific application)
I'd recommend purchase of whatever is the mid-line single processor computer
available at the present time.  I don't recommend spending extra money on the
highest GHz machine or dual processors, etc.  Get a PC with modern operating
system and quality internals.  If you only plan to do linear simulation, 256MB RAM
should be fine.  If you plan to regularly implement other types of simulation, then
you may routinely find the need for 512MB RAM or more.  The hard drives available
with today's computers (usually 20GB or more) are plenty.
For more specifics, read on...

The GENESYS linear simulator is known for its speed.  I have an "older" laptop
computer with Pentium-2  333MHz that runs the linear simulator just fine, including
synthesis, optimization and MonteCarlo analysis.  Don't underestimate the value
of running a current operating system;  as time goes on, both software and operating
systems develop, and they tend to roughly track each other.

Let's look a little deeper into the application specific answers:

Perhaps the most processor intensive and potentially memory intensive simulator
is EMPOWER, the electromagnetic analysis engine.  EM analysis involves lots of math
for processing of matrices, and the size of the area being analyzed (among other factors)
affects the total amount of memory required.  If you plan to routinely do EM analysis,
more processor power is better, although the "standard" processor mentioned above
will be just fine for most cases.  The specific amount of RAM required will vary depending
on the size of the layout being analyzed, and the grid density.  (Total number of grid squares is key).
If the focus is on EMPOWER, my recommendation is that it's better to have a "current" hardware
setup and concentrate on getting a good motherboard with decent bus speed, etc.
I'd recommend 1GB RAM, although your specific application may have you using far less,
or possibly far more.  This is where modern operating systems become important, as the
newer OS's manage memory much more effectively.  EMPOWER does have the ability
to detect multiple processors and spawn multiple processing threads, but you should know
this:  Due to the way PCs are configured, (for instance) a dual processor PC will reperesent
roughly 25% to 30% speed increase (not 100%).  If your application will be constant and heavy
running of EMPOWER, then maybe a dual processor machine with 2GB RAM is in order.
For most of us, a single processor machine is probably the best choice, with RAM according to
specific usage.  (I'd rather spend the extra money on the next generation "average" PC when it
becomes available, than spend big bucks on the "bleeding edge" machine today).  Again, it's important
to get a healthy motherboard with good bus speed etc.  Different video cards can have an effect
in terms of how fast they can process screen updates, too.  There can be large variance and that's
often a difficult item to capture.  Video performance also varies across software versions
(another good reason to stay current with the latest version of GENESYS !).
Yes, the software will attempt to cache to the hard drive (use "virtual" memory) in some instances
if it runs out of RAM.  But my opinion is don't use this as a backup;  the access time of hard drives
is roughly one million times slower than RAM.  If you're out of RAM and caching to the hard drive in
any case, you'll probably grow old waiting for the finish.  (Get more RAM!)