Electronics > Altium Designer

Altium & integrated graphics (CPU+built in GPU)?

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evb149:
Hi --

I'm wondering what people's experiences have been trying to use Altium Designer for PCB & Schematic work
on PCs with CPUs including only integrated graphics processors. 

For work use I'd spec. out a CAD workstation laptop if mobile or office use was significantly needed,
but I'm just wondering if I can use it on a personal laptop now and then for basic use without specially getting a workstation / gaming laptop with a powerful add-in NVIDIA GPU?

As I recall back around AD14-AD17 time frame there was more support for using lower graphics capabilities wrt. Direct3d / etc.,
whereas in recent years there doesn't seem to be much provided settings option to use basic graphics and there's more GPU
reliance on programmable graphics processing, shaders, GPGPU or whatever they're doing

I've heard as of ~3 years ago common Intel Iris graphics processors integrated into CPUs were not considered by some to be good enough even
for either basic schematic or PCB use.

But I know there has been improvement in basic laptop CPUs and integrated graphics and memory in the past 3-4 years, so I am wondering if it is
in the realm of usable for occasional usage with a more current generation basic laptop with modern i3/i5 CPU with integrated Intel UHD or Xe graphics only?

I know AD21 runs OK for me even on an old desktop PC with a ~2008 mid-range PCIE GPU which has from 70%-200% of the SP GFLOPS as the mid-range Intel IGPUs now; the old PCIE GPU probably has twice the on-GPU memory bandwidth, though, vs. using mostly / only the slower system DDR4 memory on a modern laptop.

For a desktop PC running AD isn't so much of an concern since one can always add a PCIE GPU if needed, but I'm wondering if a general mid-range modern productivity laptop without an option for a NVIDIA GPU card is suited for even modest use of AD21 when mobile or whether one basically has to choose a
"workstation" CAD laptop with NVIDIA GPU just to do anything much at all with AD2x?

And if AD2x doesn't run at all reasonably usefully without an add-on NVIDIA GPU even on current mid-range laptops, what about AD19, 18, 17, ... would those older versions work well without an add-in NVIDIA GPU card for a laptop?

Are Ryzen laptop CPUs with AMD integrated GPUs better or worse for AD than Intel i3 / i5 type GPU+CPUs?

And if only an add-in NVIDIA GPU will do for a laptop, what's the entry level of GPU capabilities that will make it work tolerably for simple use?

Thanks!


dunkemhigh:
I wouldn't recommend this but I have AD20 running on a Zoltak mini-PC:

https://www.zotac.com/us/product/mini_pcs/zbox-bi325

I use it when I need to view designs on the bench, and it is perfectly adequate for that. Indeed, a but nippier than I was expecting (which isn't to say 'fast').

evb149:
Thank you very much for that information.

When you mention viewing are you launching the actual AD20 full installation, or are you using their viewer-only installable product?

The integrated graphics on that unit you linked are probably comfortably exceeded by the laptop's I'm considering so I'm hopeful.

On the desktop I successfully run it adequately well on an ~2010 low end quad core system with 4GBy DDR2 so I'm sure in terms of RAM quantity / speed and CPU speed even low-mid-range modern PCs and laptops would exceed the needed performance. 
But since my old desktop has no suitable integrated graphics, AD21 wouldn't run at all until I added an old DX10 compatible GPU ~2008gen. 8800GT which works well enough, but even that still has significantly more VRAM BW and somewhat better GPU SP FLOPs than some current CPU integrated GPUs so I wondered if IGPUs were "there yet" in practice for AD.

But now, midrange desktop PC GPUs are hard to buy at all (chip shortage), and "mobile workstation" laptops with powerful GPU cards integrated are ~3x the cost of new mid-range CPU+IGPU laptops which can do literally everything else quite excellently except for high end AA FPS gaming and possibly AD layout.


--- Quote from: dunkemhigh on October 03, 2021, 07:15:09 pm ---I wouldn't recommend this but I have AD20 running on a Zoltak mini-PC:

https://www.zotac.com/us/product/mini_pcs/zbox-bi325

I use it when I need to view designs on the bench, and it is perfectly adequate for that. Indeed, a but nippier than I was expecting (which isn't to say 'fast').

--- End quote ---

dunkemhigh:
It's the viewer, but so far as I can tell it's just the real thing with some options blocked. Not at all like the '09 viewer, anyway :)

Gerhard_dk4xp:
I have a Dell XPS13 as a motorcycle computer, i.e. it fits easily into a corner
of one of the 2 alu boxes. It runs under Linux Mint with VMware. The virtual
machine is a 1:1 copy of my Win10 CAD machine @ home, just the contents of
a 200G directory. Still fits nicely on the XPS13 SSD.
Everything works, even if it is not a preferred work environment, but:

While VMware complains it cannot provide DirectX 3D, Altium 20 or 21 layout
simply does nothing at all. No complaint, but the layout window simply shows
the screen background. Schematics works. Ever heard of diagnostics?

While I would not expect real time 3D performance, I expect that  I can
at least see a simple board. Just like DOS Orcad did 35 years ago on a super-VGA
on this Compaq-286-16. Or at least "SORRY, I'm too dumb" across the screen.

Gerhard

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