I could tell the TV was gonna croak. The picture was fuzzy, so I dinked with the controls to improve it. My daughter, a kindergartener at the time, walked in and asked what was wrong with the TV. Turns out my eyes had aged on me while I was busy living. Today’s Check it Out is about the natural degradation of your productivity and time to innovate which you might not have noticed because you’re too busy working.
The basic thesis of “Workstations: Now is the Time to Upgrade” is that your three-year-old or older engineering workstation has fallen behind the times and is not up to the job. If you’d like to assign blame, pin it on more versatile software. See, by some estimates, CAD models are like my gut: they double in size every couple of years. That’s a lot of new overhead for an aging workstation to cope with.
Still, the real culprit may just be you. You’ve probably upgraded your software twice in the last three years, while your hardware ripened. So, with each upgrade, you lost productivity in two ways. One, the new software taxes your resources, meaning it takes a shade longer to execute a function. An extra second here, a couple of minutes there, and pretty soon you’re talking real time spent waiting and not innovating.
Two, the new software is likely optimized to use the latest advances in hardware you don’t have. This is the more insidious drain on time and innovation. Your new software has all sorts of built-in time-savers it is not able to leverage. Some may actually even be slowing you down as they contest for slices of RAM with other operations.
“Prove it,” you say. Proving it is exactly what this nine-page paper, sponsored by Lenovo and Intel and produced by my colleagues at Desktop Engineering, does. And it does it well.
It starts with a benchmark study Lenovo ran pitting a mid-range 2010 ThinkStation S20 against a mid-range 2013 ThinkStation S30 running the SPECviewperf12 benchmarks for SolidWorks 2013. The ThinkStation S30 was twice as fast as its older sibling.
But benchmarks are idealized situations. So, next comes a real-world report from an outfit that custom designs exhibits and displays using AutoCAD, SolidWorks and Trimble SketchUp. They upgraded to ThinkStation S30s after beating on their old workstations for five years. They ran some time tests of their own. The ThinkStation S30 was at least 10 times faster than their aged units.
The designers and engineers also discovered that multitasking can be efficient, crashes are no longer a daily happening and it’s possible to do multiple design revisions in a day. To that last point, the company reports that their clients don’t think anything about asking for a new design within an hour or so, and now they get it.
Next is a generalized discussion on return on investment (ROI). What’s notable here is a simple example showing you the possible ROI you could realize with a workstation upgrade. Adapting this example for your situation will get you a back of the envelope number in a snap.
One item of particular note interesting to highlight: On page 7, there’s an infographic called “Workstations Then and Now.” It has a photo of the interior of a workstation. Callout boxes on the four major areas inside every workstation — CPU, RAM, storage and video card — show you how far technology has advanced in three years. Eye-opening is the word for it. You’ll want to check that out.
“Workstations: Now is the Time to Upgrade” is a solid, easy-to-read paper. It tells it like it is: Your workstation is old. It’s sapping your productivity and hampering opportunities for innovation. Time to upgrade. Download your complimentary copy by hitting today’s Check it Out link. Good stuff.
Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering