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RE: 64 bit computers systems

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Truitt -
I'm not 100% up to speed on mult-core processors and such, so others on the list may have a better understanding. 
Most of the applications that are written to take advantage of the multiple processors were applications that were originally designed to work on main frames or servers.  Perhaps some of the software written for high end CAD workstations (Integraph?). 
Now, multiple cores on a standard workstation definitely helps the operating system when it is running multiple applications.  You should get the lag time when switching between RISA and Outlook or Word that you would have gotten when running a single processor.  That's the big advantage right now. 
I'm not an actual programmer, so I'll have to check with some other folks to make sure that this next part is correct. But, I believe that the key to making current applications take advantage of the multiple processors is that the program be a "multi-threaded" application.  Since most engineering software was originally written a long time agon (some of them are still written in Fortran!), they are mostly single threaded.  That means all the graphics, calculations, status bar messages and such are mutually exclusive... only one of those processes can be handled at a time.  Normally, this isn't apparent to the user. 
It's alot of work to go back and re-write perfectly good code in other to split it into multiple threads. However, as we move forward more and more new features can be added that are mult-threaded.  I know that at RISA, the developers have had more in-depth discussions about this sort of thing.  But, it's a matter of where do you want to put your development effort.  Personally, I think that our recent additions to the program have sped up the processing speed way, way, way more than multi-threading would.  The sparse matrix (which reduces the size of the stiffnes matrix to a fraction of it's original size) and the Lanzcos dynamic solver can reduce the solution time to 1/100th of what it used to be.  Other additions (like Ritz vectors, smart sections and such) will probably make a less dramatic change.  However, they're probably still easier to add and will have as much of an impact as multi-threading would.   
Josh Plummer, SE

From: Truitt Vance [mailto:Truitt(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 8:16 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: 64 bit computers systems

Josh, maybe you or somebody here could answer this then:


I built all our office computers to Core 2 Duos last year and earlier this year and am really happy w/ the performance of these machines.  I guess I sort of assumed that most applications could take advantage of the two cores and speed things up a bit though.  I now know that the main advantage here is that your processor isn’t SLAMMED by one application, you still have 50% or your resources to do other things when you are running solutions on RISA or whatever the demanding program may be.  Although this is great, the one processor is actually slower than some of the hot running single processors (3GHz+), so net processing time increases!  Hmmmm, is that good?


When are applications going to be written to use multiple cores?  Can that be done with your program? (if not, when?)  We use Vectorworks for drafting, love the program…but REALLY wish they would take advantage of dual cores.  Maybe I should write them.  I don’t think other progs other than your CAD’s or FEA’s really need to accomplish this.


But then again….depending on how efficiently the programs use the cores, our computers could go back to being slammed when we push solve…or render something.


Truitt Vance