ElumTools, like AGi32, leverages a Radiosity Engine to perform photometric calculations and generate interactive 3D visualizations. This article contains recommendations for hardware which will make the ElumTools calculation run more efficiently, in a variety of use-cases and project types.
- Processor (or clock) speed (GHz) is THE most important factor for faster calculations! The faster the processor, the faster the calculations. Most processors have two speeds: the stated clock speed and the "turbo" or maximum speed. ElumTools Calculations will utilize everything the processor has available (see Windows Power Management).
- Physical core count is a secondary consideration but can also be very important. Physical core count is the actual number of cores on the processor. Many Intel processors use a proprietary technology called hyper-threading to "virtually" double the number of cores. While hyper-threading may benefit some programs, it is the physical core count that matters for the ElumTools Calculation Engine. A processor with 8-10 physical cores is a good choice. A higher core count might be more beneficial if the models being calculated are extremely heavy with calculation points (though a faster processor speed will also help with this). Processor speeds tend to drop when the core count goes up (8-10 cores seems to be the sweet spot). There is only so much heat that can be dissipated from a processor. Since cores and speed produce heat, either cores or speed needs to go down as the other is increased.
- Cache sizes can also effect processing speed. Larger cache sizes will help speed up calculation times. This is the third thing to consider after speed and cores. If it comes down to two "like processors" but one has larger cache sizes, go with the processor with larger caches.
- Multiple processors may or may not be of benefit and are extremely expensive. The reason one might go with a multi-processor machine is that it provides a way to keep the processor speed high but also double-up on the physical core count. It is important to mention that multiple processors ,other than Xeon processors, will be treated as separate processors and will not benefit the ElumTools calculations. Xeon processors can be treated as a single processor if core count is a concern. Core count really only benefits ElumTools when calculating the calculation points, after the Radiosity Calculation terminates. Thus, unless one typically works with enormous roadway or site models with tens of thousands of calculation points, multiple Xeon processors are unlikely to be of value.
- Intel versus AMD. The ElumTools Calculation Engine, has been optimized to run with Intel processors. This means an Intel processor will calculate an Revit-generated model more efficiently and faster than an equivalent AMD processor. This may not make much difference with smaller models but it can add up with larger projects.
- Windows Power Management settings can also be a factor. To get the most out of the processor, make sure the power settings are set to High or Ultimate Performance. In both cases, make sure both the "Minimum processor state" and "Maximum processor state" are set to "100%". This will ensure that the processor runs at full capacity from the start to the end of the AGi32 calculation process. The image below shows these settings.
RAM recommendations available in the ElumTools System Requirements.
Hard Drive or Solid State Drive
The ElumTools Calculation Engine does not leverage the Disk for the purposes of lighting computations and renderings. However, the ElumTools Application does leverage the Disk for the purpose of extracting geometry from the Revit Database, and saving the calculation results to the Revit Database, after the calculation completes. A Solid State Drive will be faster, for both operations.
Everything comes down to performance versus cost. When on a budget, this can be quite a balancing act but as the information above makes clear, focus should be on the processor when it comes to ElumTools calculation speed. If other programs require or benefit from more RAM and/or a better graphics card then those, too, need to be weighed alongside the processor. As of the writing of this article, the Intel Xeon Gold processor running at a base speed of 3.5Ghz with a "turbo" speed of 4.5Ghz and 8 cores is about as good as it gets (at least today). Of course, if budget is not an issue, a dual-processor machine using this same processor would even be better!