Is it time to reinvent how we design?
By: Dr. Mike Jahadi, Senior Manager, CAD/CAM Integration and Strategic Planning;
Bill Abramson, Early Pioneer CAD/CAM Technology,
Wes Shimanek, Workstation Product Manager Intel Corporation

After ten years of advancements in software and hardware technologies we thought it would be interesting to see what has changed and ask the question – are we doing enough to exploit the technologies we have around us?
Between 2000 and 2005 performance of SPEC Int (integer), a good indicator of CAD application performance, went up by almost ~5X; in second half the decade it only increased by ~3X. Most CAD applications, being single threaded, only exploit a fraction of the available computational power of today’s workstations. Intel, and other semiconductor manufacturers, moved from increasing clock speeds to maintaining clock speeds, adding new instruction and adding more computational cores. The impact was a leveling off in performance of serial applications like CAD.
In that same time period spec FP rate (floating point rate), an industry standard benchmark by SPEC Org is a good indicator of analysis and simulation performance, increased by nearly 100X. This was due in main part to increased core count per processor, new instructions and faster infrastructure (e.g. clock frequency, memory size, memory bandwidth, system i/o etc…). Complex simulations in 2003 that took nearly 5 hours to process were now being completed in less than 10 minutes.