MCADCafe Weekly Review July 19th, 2012

As has been the case for several years, not all computer users need a workstation-class machine, but many do, especially with graphics-oriented and computationally intensive applications, such as MCAD, FEA, and animation. However, high-powered workstations for graphic-intensive applications can come with a price premium. So, you can really pay a relatively high price for higher levels of performance, but is often worth it. There are exceptions, however, and the HP Z620 desktop workstation offers the best of both worlds – a versatile machine with excellent performance at a reasonable price.

I’d classify the HP Z620 as a mid- to high-level machine that provides just about everything most customers would need in a desktop engineering workstation. Admittedly, it may seem a bit pricey for what you get (at least how our review machine was configured), but overall is a real performer compared with competition in this spec and price range. The HP Z620 workstation is designed to perform in a professional engineering-oriented environment. It’s got a lot of premium, server-grade components optimized for demanding workloads.









The HP Z620 Workstation with Moldflow running

The HP Z620 we received for review came configured as follows:

CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2643, 3.30 GHz
RAM: 32 GB (will handle up to 32 GB); supports up to 96 GB
OS: 64-bit Windows 7 Professional
GPU: NVIDIA Quadro 2000
Display: HP ZR2740w

Other: Solid state drives (optional)

Storage: up to 11 TB

3 internal 3.5” HDD bays plus 2 external 5.25” bays

2 Integrated 6Gb/s SATA ports

Support for up to 300W of graphics

3 Third-generation PCI Express slots, (2×16, 1×8) 6 slots total

With Intel’s Core i7 and higher CPUs, why consider a Xeon processor? Well, first of all, Xeon processors are generally intended for use in servers that tend to run cooler and at lower voltages than the Core i7 CPUs. In other words, Xeon-based machines are designed for continuous use over long periods of time under demanding workloads. The performance hit, though, could be an issue, but was negligible in this evaluation.

The Nvidia Quadro 2000 graphics card is part of a product line that is designed specifically to work on a continuous basis. Some applications, such as SolidWorks and Inventor are also optimized to work with Nvidia’s Quadro cards.

Behind the scenes, but an integral part of the overall Z620 are the system software applications that come pre-installed on it as part of the HP Cool Tools suite – namely, the HP Performance Advisor and Power Assistant. Performance Advisor provides a lot of useful information and tools regarding the machine. It lists component changes, provides details on driver versions, as well as CPU and memory utilization – all handy information to know if and when you need it. The Power Assistant shows you much power the HP Z620 is using, along with estimates of its operating costs and carbon footprint. With this information, you can adjust how the system operates to minimize energy usage.

I’d thought I’d take a peek inside the Z620 and was impressed with the tool-less chassis design with integrated handles and complete serviceability with internal modules that slide in and out. There is also a diagram on the removable side cover that has a handy map/guide that illustrates what is located where internally. Anyway, the inside of the box was well laid out and tidy.

Measuring Performance

Objective and subjective tests were run to measure performance. Keep in mind that the tests were performed with the machine in an “out of the box” state, nothing was tweaked or optimized to skew performance. I actually get more out of the subjective testing because it’s more “real world,” but the raw numbers from the benchmarks are also useful, as well as a means of comparison. Your evaluations may differ from mine, but they do provide a point for comparison.

For objective testing, we ran two benchmarks NovaBench (geared more toward overall performance) and SPECviewperf 11 (geared more toward graphics performance).

NovaBench Benchmark Test:

32,695 MB System RAM (Score: 286)

  • RAM Speed: 13,470 MB/s

CPU Tests (Score: 1182

  • Floating Point Operations/Second: 410,820,608
  • Integer Operations/Second: 1,652,746,640
  • MD5 Hashes Generated/Second: 1,173,024

Graphics Tests (Score: 244)

  • 3D Frames Per Second: 710

Hardware Tests (Score: 28)

  • Primary Partition Capacity: 147 GB
  • Drive Write Speed: 175 MB/s

The 1,740 composite score is fairly impressive because the average score of other workstations in this class was 1,294. So, the HP Z620 provided better performance in relative terms.

SPECviewperf 11 Benchmark Test:

The scores for the various tests (CATIA, Solidworks, Lightwave, Ensight, NX, and Pro/ENGINEER) were some the best I have seen lately and averaged approximately 22% better than other HP desktop workstations I have benchmarked and reviewed.

For subjective testing, I ran Autodesk Inventor, Simulation, and 3ds Max. I used a data set of standard models that I have created over the years for this testing, including a model with 50,000+ parts, renderings of complex surfaces, advanced FEA, and animations. The Z620’s performance was good with these tests.

Most companies have users who need a little extra computing horsepower than is available in a generic desktop computer where a standard desktop PC might be perfectly suitable. However, heavy graphics and especially 3D can tax a standard PC beyond its capabilities. For these types of applications and users, seriously consider a workstation. In 2012, workstations aren’t an absolute requirement for everyone. But, if you need a powerful PC to work with graphics and 3D application, and are willing to pay a bit extra for optimized hardware for these types of tasks, the HP Z620 CMT is worth considering.

Hewlett Packard Z620 Desktop Workstation

Pluses: Cost/performance ratio, internal accessibility; easily upgradeable; system management software.

Minuses: None significant.

Price (as supplied): $5,868. Prices start at $1,649.

Overall Grade: A-

Contact: HP Z620 Workstation


The Week’s Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the news items that were the most viewed during last week.

Delcam’s new PowerSHAPE CAD enhances direct modelling and reverse engineering

The 2013 release of Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD system includes enhancements to its direct modeling and reverse engineering capabilities. In addition, the solid and surface modeling options are faster and more robust. The most important new option in PowerSHAPE’s direct modelling functionality is “Replace Face”. This allows a selected face or group of faces to be replaced with another face or group of faces, either from the same solid or from a separate solid or surface model. A second new option that will be of particular interest to tooling designers will be the “Solid Core” command. This selects automatically the smallest rectangular or cylindrical shape that will fully enclose a group of solid faces. For reverse engineering, PowerSHAPE now allows point-cloud data to be captured directly. Point data can be displayed on-screen as a laser attachment is passed over the object being scanned. This ensures that all the required information can be captured as any gaps in the data will be apparent immediately.

solidThinking Evolve 9.0 Releases with Support for KeyShot

Luxion announced that solidThinking Evolve 9.0 launched with file export for KeyShot. This week, solidThinking released the newest version of its concept design and 3D modeling software, solidThinking Evolve 9.0 and with it, support to save KeyShot .bip files directly. Features of the solidThinking Evolve 9.0 KeyShot save option include:

  • Materials and layers retained on save
  • Tesselation quality options on save
  • Option to open with KeyShot on save
  • Hierarchy of materials created in KeyShot scene tree
  • All objects retain applied materials (can be unlinked)
  • Hidden layer will not be imported

IHS Acquires Invention Machine and Releases Updated FY2012 Guidance

IHS Inc. acquired Invention Machine for approximately $40 million. Invention Machine is a semantic search technology that uncovers relevant insights held within a wealth of internal and external knowledge sources, transforming the underlying data into actionable intelligence. Their patented semantic question-answering software engine leads engineers and knowledge workers to information quickly and enables them to rapidly digest it to make better decisions. Invention Machine’s Goldfire product is the decision engine built on top of a patented semantic search engine that connects engineers and innovation and knowledge workers, on-demand, to one another and to the internal and external knowledge and trends needed to develop, maintain and produce breakthrough products and services. Semantic search engines understand the meanings and relationships of words, and can provide more relevant results than traditional text-based search engines.

Geometric launches DFMPro for NX to improve design review efficiency

Geometric announced the launch of its automated design for manufacturability solution, DFMPro for NX software. Today, organizations are striving to create innovative products and need to get them to the market faster, within cost targets and with better quality. Issues related to product delays as well as cost and quality need to be detected early in the product development cycle as changes in later stages have an exponentially higher impact on time and cost. Geometric’s DFMPro product is a solution that identifies and fixes these issues at the design stage. DFMPro comes with global best practices in the area of manufacturability and assembly, along with a powerful framework to add an organization’s in-house best practices. This allows design engineers to save time on design reviews and rework, and utilize such time in creating innovative products. DFMPro provides numerous built-in checks for manufacturing processes like machining, sheet metal, casting, molding and assembly. The standard checks in DFMPro are derived from various handbooks, design guidelines and global best design practices.


Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at or 719.221.1867.


This Week

Product and Company News

SOLID Applications signs strategic agreement with Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corporation

Rev 11 release of LMS Virtual.Lab makes virtual simulation even more realistic

ZW3D CAD/CAM Helps Feist Co. Beat the Supply Chain Clock

PLMIG aims to resolve PLM-ERP

Autodesk Helps Morgan Cars Produce One of its Most Successful Designs Yet

Noesis Solutions Joins PTC PartnerAdvantage Program

Sunglass Launches With New API, Dropbox Integration To Democratize 3D Design

Dimensional Control Systems Leverages Technology from Spatial for New Analysis Solution

Delcam ensures Gardner Aerospace is quick off the mark

Dassault Systèmes Continues to Expand Channel Diversification and Growth, while Preparing Partners to Embrace 3DEXPERIENCE

starCAD MC 1.3 iPad app Released

Open Design Alliance Announces Teigha V3.6

aPriori Secures an Additional $5 Million in Venture Funding

IMAGINiT Technologies Earns Autodesk Simulation Specialization in USA

ZWCAD+ Launch: New Core. New Possibilities.

New version of the CAD viewer: Kubotek KeyView V11.5.1

Research and Markets: 2012 CAD Report

CDS Catalog and CAD Download Solution Selected by FluiDyne Fluid Power

PLMIG calls for Research into ‘Own-Language’ PLM

Research and Markets: CFD Market in India 2011-2015

Ensure Your Company Maximizes the Benefits of FEA with NAFEMS Training

MCS From Vero Completes The Picture

OpenDXM GlobalX now “made to measure” (Prostep)

Living the dream with Delcam’s FeatureCAM

Knovel and Society of Manufacturing Engineers Partner to Expand Knovel Offerings, Extend SME’s Global Reach

PTC to Announce Fiscal Q3 Results and Host Conference Call

Hexagon Metrology Debuts PC-DMIS 2012

QUAN Signs New Agreement with Prestigious European Robotics Institute

starCAD MC 1.3 Officially Released – iPAD App

Integware Joins The Aras Partner Program

aPriori Completes Record Fiscal Year

Can 3D plant project data control be easy on Administrators? (CAD Schroer)

Lantek reaches its worldwide customer base through social media

Kinnerton Confectionery Selects Aras Enterprise PLM

GTMA/Vero Event Highlights Improved Processes and Material Advances

Rand Secure Archive Releases New Versions of EAS Web Access and EAS Entourage Client Tools

Manufacturing/Heavy Industry News Site Launched

Jetbox releases iC5 Turbo for ENOVIA Engineering Central and Program Central

Delcam reseller Les Technologies increases customer support

ANSYS To Release Q2 2012 Earnings

Scanning Services India, Affordable Digital Scanning Services with 99.98% Accuracy

Related MCAD News

Dassault Systèmes Launches “Smart, Safe & Connected Car” Industry Solution Experience

Mazor Robotics’ Renaissance Technology Receives U.S. FDA Clearance for Brain Applications

Boeing Airplanes, Innovation and Technology Highlighted at Farnborough International Airshow

PCS Announces the Release of Its Latest Version of the Robotics Education Pack

EDA Consortium Reports Revenue Increase for Q1 2012

New York Power Authority Selects FLOW-3D to Study Flows at Niagara Falls Facility

HiWave’s Haptic Touch Panels Deliver Tactile Feedback for Improved User Interaction with Aerospace Electronic Systems

Voters Favor National Strategy to Restore U.S. Manufacturing Jobs

Mentor Graphics Introduces the Industry’s First General Purpose 1D-3D CFD Simulation Software Solution

General Motors Trials MagneGas Alternative Metal-Working Fuel

New HD Ultra Wide Format Scanner Series from Contex

Bluebeam Software Launches Photo Contest to Demonstrate How Revu iPad Enables Users to Work Without Limits

United Announces Order For 150 Boeing Aircraft

Bombardier Aerospace Concludes a Successful Farnborough Airshow

Corporate Moves

Geometric appoints PLM veteran Louis J. Pascarella

United States Rocket Academy Welcomes XCOR Aerospace to Texas

Industry Events

IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show 2012 to Host First-Ever Job Center

CT Core Technologies shows how to protect your valuable IP in upcoming Webinar

Delcam to show probing in FeatureCAM at IMTS

3D PDF event held by PROSTEP was highly successful

Tata Technologies eMO EV Study Illustrates ‘ENOVIA V6 – Solutions for Product Design’ Webinar

CT Core Technologies shows how to protect your valuable IP in upcoming Webinar

Metals Service Center Institute to Host 11 Manufacturing Summits: Goal to “Close the Divide Between Jobs, Policy & Growth”

NAFEMS North America Conference ’12

NAFEMS Practical Introduction to FEA Course

CimatronE & GibbsCAM “Steal The Show” at ACMEE, India

Dassault Systèmes Schedules Second Quarter 2012 Results Webcast and Conference Call for July 26, 2012

Delcam’s success in Asia featured by UKTI

PTC to Announce Fiscal Q3 Results and Host Conference Call

Graphic Skin Competition Underway for Rally Fighter to be Built during IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show 2012

Webinar – 7/12/12 – ArtCAM Express – Using The Relief Clipart Library (Delcam)

Industrial Design Software Choices
July 13, 2012  by Jeff Rowe

I’ve been an industrial designer for a long time, so long in fact, that I still have Prismacolor pencils, pastels, markers and gouache (long ago dried out) that I used to execute product design sketches and renderings. I still sketch quite a bit with pencils and pens. However, there are also a lot of ID software packages out there today for different budgets and needs.

With all these ID software choices, you can narrow them down with a few basic features and capabilities that you’ll need for ID:

GUI — A good one is essential for minimizing the learning curve (which can be very steep) and fitting in with the way you work.

Sketching — For mimicking napkin drawing medium, and not with contstraints and parameters, easy and fast sketching ability is an absolute.

Surfacing — Freeform, organic shapes require top-notch surfacing, above and beyond basic 3D modeling.

Rendering — Communicating a design to others inside the company or to customers outside is much more effective with high-quality renderings.

Export — ID is not a standalone endeavor and the ability to export to other CAD packages for refinement is key — in native and/or neutral file formats.

We don’t have room to detail all of the ID software possibilities, but some of the more notable packages include:
-Alias Design/Surface/Automotive
-3ds Max

Any others you care to add? Let us know.

In the future, I’ll put together a matrix that lists the products above and their features for comparison purposes for aspiring and practicing industrial designers.

Learn how to protect your IP.   Webinar - 7-19-12
NAFEMS-N.America Conf. 2012

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