What are the optimal hardware requirements for RFEM and RSTAB?

Answer

Basically, it is difficult to make a general statement about the optimal hardware. It always depends on what kind of models you want to calculate. The following information helps you to configure a computer that is best suited for your purposes.

Processor

The calculation of RFEM benefits from several calculation kernels. However, it is not always true that more cores are better.

If the calculation is distributed over a large number of cores, the traffic increases and the connections between the cores and the storages become more and more bottleneck.

Research has shown that the maximum of 10 to 12 cores are reasonable for the calculation in RFEM.

A good compromise between the performance and price are the current eight-cores.

XEON CPUs have no advantage over desktop CPUs in our software, quite the contrary. In many situations, RFEM can only use one core. The RSTAB kernel also uses one core only. In order to achieve a good performance, a high turbo cycle frequency is important. For XEON processors, it tends to be lower than for desktop processors.

Specifically, we recommend using one of the following processors:

  • Intel® Core™ i9-10920X
  • Intel® Core™ i9-10900X
  • Intel® Core™ i9-9900K
  • Intel® Core™ i9-9900KS
  • Intel® Core™ i7-9700K

Basically, processors from Intel are recommended. We do not yet have any experience of our own with the Ryzen processors.

The modern processors have a sophisticated temperature management. The cycle frequency is adjusted dynamically depending on the temperature in the processor. This means that a good cooling of the processor can improve the performance. Therefore, we recommend a generously dimensioned computer case and a good cooling fan for the processor.

RAM

It is important for the speed to quickly connect the random access memory. Therefore, it is recommended to use DDR4 RAM.

In RFEM, the optimal RAM size depends on the FE mesh of the model or, in RSTAB, on the number of members. Unfortunately, it is not possible to directly deduce the size of the required memory from the number of FE nodes or members. It only helps testing.

We recommend to initially equip the computer with 16 GB of RAM. It is useful to equip the mainboard with RAM so that a simple upgrade is possible.

Make sure that all memory channels are used.

ECC memory, as offered in some workstations, has no speed-related advantages for RFEM and RSTAB.

Graphics Card

For the graphics card, we recommend to use a graphics chip from Nvidia. The integrated graphics processors from Intel are not suitable.

We advise against using Quadro boards and recommend a "game board" of the GTX series with Pascal architecture (GTX 10XX) or the RTX series with Turing architecture (RTX 20XX) instead. Games and Quadro boards hardly differ in hardware. The game card drivers are known to be more problem-free in terms of RFEM/RSTAB and are cheaper than the Quadro cards.

The size of the memory on the map is not relevant for RFEM/RSTAB.

It is important to install the current driver for the graphics card.

In order to avoid complications, it would be good to deactivate the graphics chip integrated in the main processor right in the BIOS. Otherwise, you have to assign the NVIDIA chip in the NVIDIA control panel of RFEM/RSTAB.

Mass Storage

A quickly connected SSD (possibly NVMe) is useful. However, this only provides an advantage for the computing speed in exceptional cases. But opening and saving large files is faster.

Software

The software that is otherwise running in the background can be decisive for the computing speed.

An antivirus software running in the background can considerably slow down the calculation. During the calculation, RFEM and RSTAB have to write many files into the working folder and read them again. It may have a positive effect on the computing speed if you exclude this folder from the real-time monitoring of your antivirus software (see Figure 02).

BIOS Update

Customer experience has shown that the firmware on the motherboard did not run optimally on a computer with a lot of RAM. This resulted in a significantly reduced computing speed. If you are using a very new board, you should check if a BIOS update is available.

Keywords

Hardware CPU Processor RAM SSD Graphics card System requirement

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RFEM Main Program
RFEM 5.xx

Main Program

Structural engineering software for finite element analysis (FEA) of planar and spatial structural systems consisting of plates, walls, shells, members (beams), solids and contact elements

Price of First License
3,540.00 USD
RSTAB Main Program
RSTAB 8.xx

Main Program

The structural engineering software for design of frame, beam and truss structures, performing linear and nonlinear calculations of internal forces, deformations, and support reactions

Price of First License
2,550.00 USD