Latest in APDRC
July 17, 2021
When it comes to getting optimal performance out of design and simulation software, workstation selection can increasingly make a big difference—advancements in CPU and GPU power can accelerate design tasks, complex simulations, and high-resolution renderings. But the hardware and software tools should be well matched, and most end users do not know what solutions can benefit from higher core counts in the CPU, GPU acceleration, more RAM, and other features.
Adam Hughes, Senior Application Engineer at GoEngineer (a SOLIDWORKS value-added reseller with locations across the U.S.) says that customers often have questions about what hardware to use. “It is not uncommon for customers to want guided assistance in selecting a computer,” he says. However, GoEngineer is not in the hardware business, so the VAR wanted to find a way to help guide clients to the right workstation for their SOLIDWORKS deployments.
In partnership with Dell, GoEngineer has created a portal that allows customers to quickly evaluate Dell Precision workstations that are preconfigured for use with SOLIDWORKS. With the portal, GoEngineer can refer clients with hardware questions to a web resource that provides hardware built specifically for their use case, as well as access to a Dell account executive to help with any additional questions or customizations.
“Software resellers frequently field these questions about hardware selection, and they really need resources to help keep the VARs and their customers aware of new models, and trends in the market,” says Luis Nunez, RTM manager, Strategic Alliances and Solutions, at Dell Technologies. “The idea is to provide the customer with a simplified process to acquire hardware directly from Dell Technologies. We display six to eight preconfigured and certified solutions supported by SOLIDWORKS. It has proven to be a very easy way for GoEngineer customers to identify themselves based on the profiles in the portal, and select the right mobile or desktop workstation.”
You can explore the Dell and GoEngineer portal here.
“The portal gives our customers the confidence that if they select one of the preconfigured workstations, they are spending their money the right way and they don't have to second guess themselves,” Hughes says. He adds that, in the past, many customers have made missteps when equating their experience in purchasing personal computers to buy new workstations, upgrading graphics cards or memory if they thought they were getting a bargain.
But in engineering applications, memory and GPU requirements can be highly specific to the software, and just spending more money on a workstation does not guarantee better performance.
And their needs are evolving. During the COVID-19 pandemic, with many engineers working from home, a lot of SOLIDWORKS users began exploring new and different features and modules. “In some cases, they may have more opportunities to look at things they wanted to do in the past, but they did not have time,” Hughes says. “They may want to make better work instruction manuals, or integrate parts manuals online, or do more photorealistic rendering for social media.”
And the use of simulation has exploded. “It has gone through the roof,” Hughes says. “People want to learn simulation. They want to test designs before production, but they do not want to rely on one specialist to do it. Because more people are using simulation, companies are willing to spend the money and buy them their own license or seat.”
With the Dell portal, engineers can select from tower workstations and mobile workstations organized around a good-better-best configuration. Those working with smaller parts and assemblies, or conducting simple simulations, can use a basic system. The advanced configurations support more complex designs and simulations.
Because engineering time is expensive, organizations understand that spending money on a workstation to improve productivity maximizes the return on their most valuable asset—their designers. They just need to make sure they are spending in the right way to deliver those productivity gains.
“The biggest challenge is that they often buy the wrong hardware,” Hughes says. “The most crucial components are ECC [error-correcting] memory, a solid SSD, and a workstation graphics card that can run SOLIDWORKS like a champ, like an NVIDIA RTX professional GPU. Those are really the pivotal decision points.”
The Dell portal limits the CPU, GPU, memory and other options to those that are best suited for SOLIDWORKS and engineering workflows.“With the portal, the customer can upgrade based on the configurations we provide, but if the changes they make to the chassis, or the power supply or the processor will not work with the software, they get a warning,” Nunez says.“That is built into the system, and they have the ability to reach out to the account executive as well.”
According to Hughes, the partnership helps customers find the best hardware for their workflow, as well as keeping them informed and up to date on Dell and NVIDIA strategies relative to SOLIDWORKS, and new products and solutions. Customers can also access new webinars and TechDirect courses via the portal, online service/support, and access to consulting and Dell financial services.
The portal is updated regularly as Dell releases new models and configurations. Dell and GoEngineer plan to further improve the content with additional industry and educational materials. Dell is also planning to launch similar portals with additional SOLIDWORKS VARs in other territories, as well as portals for other engineering software providers.
“We are being very selective in expanding the program so that we are working with VARs with a presence in different geographic territories,” Nunez says. “We are also looking at expanding the program with other engineering software partners and in other parts of the world.”
“We have been fielding hardware questions for a long time, and the portal really helps us provide the education our customers are looking for,” Hughes adds.
Ken Coburn, President and Founder of GoEngineer, shares in Dell's enthusiasm for helping our customers level up the efficient use of their time and resources. “Dell's expertise in supporting the SOLIDWORKS community helps companies gain a competitive edge in a constantly changing global economy.” said Coburn.