Jump to content
TG

Looking for a Workstation for LabVIEW software development

Recommended Posts

A question for the elders

If you can believe it I now have a chance to spend some of the companies money (Prob 3k+) for something that actually makes >MY job<

a little easier!

What kind of a workstation would you purchase to develop LabVIEW applications?

Thanks in advance all!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What kind of a workstation would you purchase to develop LabVIEW applications?

If I were looking I'd go with a quad-core cpu, lots of expansion slots, 2 or 3 wide screen monitors, and possibly a solid state hard drive. I primarily do applications to run on standard pcs; if you're doing real-time or something else you might have different requirements.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm far from being an elder, however, here's my take on it:

Maximize the number of display pixels you can put on your desk. Buy 2-3 large widescreen displays (at least 24", 27" is better, even one 30" is awesome). There are some video cards that support 3 displays which makes it easy to hook them up. LV is a graphical programming language. Visual landscape is key.

Read this: link

Justify your purchase with the applications you are developing. The needs of a GUI developer are considerably different than one crunching numbers or time critical control algorithms. Or, find out your max limit, price your monitors and spend everything else on your workstation and peripherals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have seen a few posts suggesting bigger and bigger monitors. I do admit that having great screen size does reduce scrolling, but i feel 1280X1024 is ideal. I do all my coding on a laptop with this resolution. I feel anything which does not fit on this screen size should be inside a subVI. Another important point to remember is where your applications will be deployed. I have burnt my hands a few times by developing GUI's on large screen but then deploying them on smaller resolution screens. Lets admit LabVIEW does not scale GUI objects very gracefully and its usually a pain when screen resolution changes. Although I have to admit the introduction Splitters and Panes have helped to address issues with GUI scaling.

As with processing power and RAM capacity, i believe its best to develop and test on a system similar to what you would deploy your applications. Again developing on a Rockstar (Highend) PC can give you fall impressions on performance of your application.

Justin Thomas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, don't get hung up on it being a desktop - I've exclusively used laptops (both Dell and Levono) for years and never thought about going back to a desktop for development. The newer Lenovos have docking stations with 4 (count 'em) monitor ports.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have seen a few posts suggesting bigger and bigger monitors. I do admit that having great screen size does reduce scrolling, but i feel 1280X1024 is ideal. I do all my coding on a laptop with this resolution. I feel anything which does not fit on this screen size should be inside a subVI.

The advantage to bigger screens isn't bigger sub vis, it's the ability to see more windows at the same time. Programming (in any language) on a laptop is an exercise in frustration for me. Still, I had a coworker with dual 30" dell monitors and that was simply too big for me. Too much head movement required to find stuff.

i believe its best to develop and test on a system similar to what you would deploy your applications.

Why not just conduct perf testing on the test computer if you're concerned about run time performance? The LV dev environment can be very resource intensive, especially if you have lots of add-ons and toolkits. I'd go nuts if I had to develop on the low end computers we use for test stations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd go nuts if I had to develop on the low end computers we use for test stations.

That might explain my mental state much of the time. wacko.gif

If you go this route, just make sure you test on the real platform early and often. My dual core dual CPU laptop (obviously) runs circles around code the target platform single core 1 CPU laptop really struggles with. I've gotten deep into some CPU intensive thing and had to backtrack.

Also, if the target platform's screen isn't the same resolution as the development screen, there WILL be font size issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all responses so far.

I ended ug going for a Dell Precision Workstation T3400 525W (32bit) with two 20" monitors. ALthough the extra CPU cores and the increased RAM

look very desirable I could not justify the additional price for the internal stuff I do. Where I work 64 bit is still as far away as ever...

ALso I realized having two Monitors is the most important part especially with my vision.

Also, if the target platform's screen isn't the same resolution as the development screen, there WILL be font size issues.

I have not seen issues yet in this regard,. Is it because I am using system controls and indicators or have I just been lucky?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just upgraded my 2.5 year old laptop to a solid state drive and it made a big difference in terms of responsiveness of the pc. Just something to keep in mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just upgraded my 2.5 year old laptop to a solid state drive and it made a big difference in terms of responsiveness of the pc. Just something to keep in mind.

Agreed. Upgrading to a SSD drive is the second best productivity improvement with LabVIEW after a second monitor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just upgraded my 2.5 year old laptop to a solid state drive and it made a big difference in terms of responsiveness of the pc. Just something to keep in mind.

What was the relative performance increase you saw with the SSD?

Tim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just ordered a new laptop, but no SSD, which is unfortunate, because I really would like the speed improvement. I'm still too afraid of the wear issues. With doing LV work all day long I'm afraid the drive would wear out too fast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

lvman user_popup.png Posted 05 July 2010 - 03:25 PM

I just upgraded my 2.5 year old laptop to a solid state drive and it made a big difference in terms of responsiveness of the pc. Just something to keep in mind.

Man what a great idea Ivman. Thanks for the tip!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What was the relative performance increase you saw with the SSD?

Tim

I did not run any benchmarks, but there is a noticeable difference.

Here are a few tasks that seem significantly faster:

1- Loading LabVIEW or MAX

2- Loading projects that have several hundred vi's

3- Opening MS Outlook. Doing any searches for email are almost instant

4- Opening Itunes

5- Dialogs seem to pop up faster

6- Windows start up and shutdown is faster. Windows becomes responsive almost instantly after you see the desktop.

Something else to keep in mind, some laptops have removable bays that are typically used for a cd/dvd drive. What I did is replaced it with a SATA drive bay. This way I could keep a larger hard drive for my large files and only use the SSD for Windows, programs, and data files at my discretion.

The SATA hard drive caddy could be found on Ebay for about $20 (for my Dell D830). When I need to use a CD or DVD, I could "Eject" my removable hard drive caddy (carrying my old 7200RPM drive) and insert the CD/DVD drive. Another thing to keep in mind is that a SSD performance will degrade as it gets near capacity, so ideally you want to have plenty of free space on it. Also keep in mind I'm running Windows 7 which has native support for "TRIM". Google for more info.

Anyway overall I'm happy with the purchase it will tide me over for at least another year, probably more. My next laptop will definitely have a SSD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just ordered a new laptop, but no SSD, which is unfortunate, because I really would like the speed improvement. I'm still too afraid of the wear issues. With doing LV work all day long I'm afraid the drive would wear out too fast.

Still if a SS drive were imaged each year (or even each day as a backup) an applications state on any given day could be retrieved in a disaster (only one days material would be lost worst case.) Assuming they are not terribly expensive It would definately be worth the risk for me. Also as a precaution the SS drive could be replaced every year or after the anticipated (or calculated) guaranteed write time is exceeded.

On the other side of it..

Q for me is the time gained (not waiting so long for LV to sort itself out all the time) going to be worth the additional effort and cost of enforcing a strict hardware imaging data backup procedure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got a couple computers running off SSDs so I'm biased, but my 2 cents:

Overall reliability has been a focus of SSD development for quite some time and lifetime should be at least as good as a 7200rpm HD. Warranties and MTBF numbers for SSDs are generally quite a bit better than with HDs. I certainly wouldn't be concerned with write cycles as even under the worst and most contrived circumstances put the write cycle limit at > 10 years. (20GB written to a 160GB Intel SSD every day would wear it out in 5 years) (See link #1). I don't think anything in addition to normal backup procedures is required. I do Mozy.com daily backups with weekly local backups and have zero concerns. (I also use Subversion for version control and Live Sync to keep my computers in sync.)

As far as speed versus a regular HD, a decent SSD (Intel, SandForce or Indilinx controllers) is night and day faster. I put a 120GB OCZ Vertex SSD in a 2.5 year old Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz laptop with 3GB ram and it drastically outperformed my brand new quad core i7 2.0GHz, 500GB 7200rpm and 6GB RAM laptop until I shoved an SSD in it. ;) Pay attention to benchmarks of random small block reads of SSDs versus spinning platters to see why SSDs will change your system. Small random reads (loading hundreds of VIs, Windows startup, file searching) 30x to 100x faster with a good SSD. (see link 4) My favorite quote on the issue was: "Someone needs to remind Sandisk that SSD vs HDD is not like Pepsi vs Coke, but more like Dr. Pepper vs Dr. Seuss"

In addition to getting one of the "good" SSD drives, you should use a modern OS (Windows 7, recent Linux, OS X 10.6, Not XP) to get TRIM support and do not use an imaged drive. You must install the OS from scratch on a clean drive so that it will recognize that it's an SSD and do the appropriate things: enable TRIM, disable unneeded caching algorithms and align the partition on 4kB boundary rather than 512B. Partition alignment is especially important as it will double performance and reduce wear versus unaligned partitions.

Cost is still a factor but Intel is releasing its 34nm flash toward the end of this year which should double storage for the same price.

There's too much information out there to put in this post, but here are a few of the most relevant links:

Anandtech has the best SSD coverage from a deep technical perspective:

1 - Updated Anandtech article on SSDs

2 - Original Anandtech article on SSDs

3 - Random read speed

4 - Boot time comparison benchmark:

5 -SSD Tweak Utility: (turns off the things that you don't need with an SSD)

Can't go wrong with any of these devices:

Intel SSD on Newegg

OCZ Vertex on Newegg

Lot's of info out there to delve into the details, but if you're willing to install a modern OS on a decent drive, it's a dream and the best performance per $ upgrade you can do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.