Q. Why did SPEC/GPC’s Application Performance Characterization
(APC) project group decide to develop Pro/ENGINEER and
A. Pro/ENGINEER and SolidWorks are two of the leading applications
in the CAD/CAM/CAE marketplace. SPEC/GPC’s Application Performance
Characterization (APC) project group was formed to provide standardized
graphics performance measurement tools based on these kinds
of industry-leading applications. The popularity and graphics-intensive
nature of Pro/ENGINEER and SolidWorks made these two applications
among the APC project group’s first priorities for its benchmarking
Q. Does the APC project group intend to pursue
benchmarks for other leading CAD/CAM/CAE applications?
A. The group would like to offer free benchmarks for
all the leading CAD/CAM applications that include graphics-intensive
operations. APC project group representatives have had discussions
with most of the major CAD/CAM software vendors. A major obstacle
is the availability of large-scale, realistic models that can
be distributed freely to the public.
Q. Who provided the models for the Pro/ENGINEER
and SolidWorks benchmarks?
A. The vendors themselves provided the models. Parametric
Technologies provided a complete and realistic model of a hypothetical
photocopy machine for the Pro/ENGINEER benchmark. That model
contains approximately 370,000 triangles. SolidWorks provided
the models for the SolidWorks 98Plus benchmark, the largest
of which is 276,000 polygons.
Q. What tests are included within the Pro/E benchmark?
A. The benchmark comprises 17 tests. Startup and initialization
time is measured, but given no weight (0.0) within the composite
score for the benchmark.
There are 16 graphics tests, each of which measures a different
rendering mode or features. The first three graphics tests measure
wireframe performance using the entire model. The next four
measure different aspects of shaded performance, using the same
model. Each of these tests executes exactly the same sequence
of 3D transformations to provide a direct comparison of different
The next four tests use a subassembly, and compare the two
FASTHLR modes, the default shading mode, and shaded with edges.
These tests also execute a common sequence of 3D transformations.
The last five graphics tests use two different instances of
the model – the first three without its outer skins (to illustrate
the effect of FASTHLR and level-of-detail operations), and the
last two to illustrate complex lighting modes and surface curvature
The last test is an aggregate of all time not accounted for
by the previous 16 tests, and is a mix of CPU and graphics operations.
Q. What scores are provided for the Pro/ENGINEER
A. Scores are generated for all 17 tests. Composite numbers
are provided for each set of graphics tests (shaded, sub-assembly,
wireframe and other) and there is an overall composite score
for graphics and CPU operations. Start-up and initiation time
is not included in the composite score.
Q. Why does the Pro/E benchmark take so long to run?
A. There are two reasons. First, the measurement accuracy
of the timing mechanism is plus or minus one second. If very
short test segments were used, the measurement error could easily
obscure differences in the benchmarked systems. Second, the
performance of graphics workstations is increasing rapidly.
A shorter test could result in a meaningless benchmark a year
Q. Why produce a Pro/ENGINEER benchmark when Bench98
from Pro/E: The Magazine is already well accepted?
A. The benchmarks have different content and goals. SPEC/GPC’s
benchmark uses a large model to measure graphics performance
across a broad range of functionality. In contrast, Bench98
is oriented more towards a typical user session, in which graphics
interaction plays a lesser role. Results from SPEC/GPC’s Pro/ENGINEER
benchmark and Bench98 are not comparable.
Another major difference is benchmark availability and frequency
of reporting results. SPEC/GPC’s Pro/ENGINEER benchmark has
been made available to the public immediately upon approval
from SPEC/GPC. New results are currently published every other
month, with more frequent updates planned in the future.
Q. What is required to run the Pro/ENGINEER benchmark?
A. A fully licensed, released version of Pro/ENGINEER
Rev. 20 is required. If a floating license is used, the workstation’s
network must be configured as documented in the Pro/ENGINEER
installation guide. In addition, the workstation being benchmarked
must have a 3D graphics display device that is recognized by
Q. How is SPEC/GPC’s SolidWorks 98Plus benchmark different
from SPEC/GPC’s SolidWorks 98 benchmark?
A. The two benchmarks use the same models and perform
the same basic tests, but their results should not be compared,
since they are based on different application versions. Registry
files for SPEC/GPC’s SolidWorks 98Plus have been changed to
correspond with the latest version of the application, part
and assembly files have been updated to correspond with new
file formats, and the rotation of parts have been revised in
the graphics performance tests.
As with SolidWorks 98, five tests are included in the new benchmark.
I/O-intensive operations, CPU operations, and three different
types of graphics operations are timed based on common user
interaction with the models. A single number is derived from
a weighted geometric mean of the normalized score for all five
tests. Scores are also reported for each of the five individual
tests and for the geometric mean of the three graphics tests.
Results are normalized to a reference machine (300-MHz Pentium
II processor; PERMEDIA 2 graphics processor) chosen by the APC
Q. I’ve heard that SolidWorks Solutions magazine
is creating a SolidWorks 99 benchmark. Will the APC project
group continue updating its SolidWorks benchmark, and if so,
how will it differ from that of the magazine?
A. SPEC/GPC will continue to update its SolidWorks benchmark
as long as there is vendor support and user interest. There
is no way of knowing at this time how the APC project group’s
benchmark will differ from that under development by SolidWorks
What will almost surely differ are availability, distribution
and frequency of reporting results. New versions of SPEC/GPC’s
SolidWorks benchmark will be available immediately to the public
upon approval by SPEC/GPC. They will be available without charge
via the SPEC/GPC Web site to any vendor, user or publication
that wishes to use it. Reporting of vendor performance results
on the SPEC/GPC site would likely be more frequent than those
in a print publication.
Q. Who performs testing for the results published on
the GPC News Web site?
A. Benchmark testing is performed by the vendors themselves,
according to rules established by the APC project group. Vendors
are responsible for the accuracy of the results they report.
All results are reviewed and approved by APC project group members
before publication on the Web site.
Q. Where is more information about membership and application
A. Information is available through this Web site or
through the APC project group’s e-mail alias: