Grasshopper

algorithmic modeling for Rhino

Grasshopper (and indeed Rhino) can be performance critical applications since both potentially deal with large amounts of data and computations. Although we aim to make our software runnable on low-end, over-the-counter computers, you may still run into serious performance issues. We have no strict recommendation or requirements, but here are the basic rules when it comes to picking hardware for Rhino and Grasshopper:

  1. Memory is key. If you deal with lots of data you need lots of memory to store it in. Since Windows itself (and any other applications that are running) require a lot of memory as well, you should make sure that you have sufficient RAM. Once you run out of RAM, Windows starts to use the hard-disk as virtual memory and when that happens you can say goodbye to performance. If you're running 64-bit Windows and a 64-bit version of Rhino, then there's really no upper limit to the amount of RAM you could install. I recommend getting at least 8GB of high speed RAM, but if you have money for more, go for it.
  2. Graphics cards are important for 3D display, but not much else. Unless you are running software which specifically uses the GPU for computations (a lot of modern Render engines for example) the only purpose of a video-card is to quickly display pixels on the screen. Be sure to get a fairly high-end card from a trusted manufacturer (ATI and NVidia basically). Do not, under any circumstance, settle for an Intel graphics card.
  3. Processors are tricky, so pay attention. It is important that you get as much bang for your buck as possible since computational speed is often a bottleneck. But remember that Grasshopper and (most of) Rhino are single-threaded applications* and therefore do not benefit from multiple cores. Do not be bamboozled by advertised processor speeds as those speeds may be given as a sum-total over all cores. I.e. an 8 core processor that has a total clock-rate of 6GHz will only give you 6/8 = 0.75GHz per core. If all you care about is Rhino and Grasshopper, you'd be better off getting a dual core @ 2GHz or even a single core at 1.8GHz

Some further points to take into account:

  • Grasshopper GUI is drawn using GDI+ which is not hardware accelerated. Grasshopper framerates are dependent mostly on processor speed.
  • Grasshopper 3D preview are drawn either in OpenGL or GDI, which are hardware accelerated. A better graphics card will improve performance here.
  • Grasshopper does not have heavy traffic to and from the disk. HD access speed is rarely a bottleneck.
  • Grasshopper requires .NET 3.5 while running on Rhino4 and .NET 4.0 or better while running on Rhino5. Be sure your windows supports these.
  • Rhino and Grasshopper sometimes run on virtual machines such as Parallels and VMWare, sometimes they don't. Even if they do, performance is typically pretty bad. Robert McNeel & Associates do not support these Operating Systems. 

This may change in the future, but not the foreseeable future.

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Thanks! That helped! I bought the hp envy 6 sleekbook last night, (8 hrs back!!!) with 64bit and an 8GB memory and 2 GB graphics card :) everything seems to be working at a much faster speed as compared to my old vaio! Thank you both, again! :) 

Although we aim to make our software runnable on low-end, over-the-counter computers

I must admit that you really did it, for almost 6 years my work machine was a 2004 PC with an AMD Semprom 1.6Ghz, 2GB RAM and a GeForce 4 mx 4000 128MB (and I suspect is not working for Rhino or Gh, because in my openGL preferences Rhine says I have only 64mb of video memory), and still within a couple of months I was able to do my entire graduation thesis, modeled 95% in Gh.. So a basic pc is not an excuse thanks to you guys :D

final renders..

So i'm looking at a ordering a custom laptop, and just wanted to confirm your point about processors

Intel Core I5-3320 Dual Core (2.6ghz)

would be far superior to

Intel Core I7 Quad Core 3740qm (2.7ghz)

when we are talking specifically about grasshopper/rhino.

Thanks for you advice

That depends. Are the 2.6 and 2.7 numbers per core or added over all cores? If the former then the quadcore will be faster, if the latter then the Dual Core will be faster.

--

David Rutten

david@mcneel.com

Tirol, Austria

David, when looking at the specs, i cant see anything that points to a different ghz per core. So i presume i have tried to outsmart myself, and in this instance the higher number is simply the higher number..

Dual Core 2.6ghz: http://ark.intel.com/products/64896

Quad Core 2.7ghz: http://ark.intel.com/products/70847

How to find out Speed of Per Core in a Processor .. 

Thank you 

just found this website, it helped me a lot

excellent

Hello. Im hoping someone here might be able to help. Im looking to purchase a new laptop to mainly run grasshopper, working primarily with 3D voronoi cells and complex meshes and breps. I was hoping for some advice on theses 2 models in particular, a lenovo y50 and alienware 15. 

Lenovo Y50 (http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/?menu-id=laptops#facet-7=6)

Memory: 8.0GB PC3L-12800 DDR3L SDRAM 1600 MHz

Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 860M 4GB

Processor: Intel Core i7-4710HQ (2.5GHz 1600MHz 6MB

Alienware 15 (http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-15-r2/pd#overrides=dkcwf02m:3~16G2D)

Memory: 8 GB 

Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M with 2GB GDDR5

Processor: 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 Processor

Im open to other suggestions as well. My budget is probably a max of $1,300 and I am definitely looking at a laptop and not interested in desktop as I am often traveling. Any input greatly appreciated.

Well ... I would strongly recommend to spend some time here:

https://www.pugetsystems.com/

especially on a variety of topics explained in depth by Puget gurus (SSD, ECC, Xeon VS Ix, etc, etc).

BTW: SSD may be the hot cake of today but ... a WD RE pro series "classic" HD is the most reliable good old thing.

Thanks for these tips DR.

I have a Dell Precision 6800. Just purchased 16GB ram as my GH definition was bogging things down, up from 8GB. 

Will the ram on an upgraded graphics card not help solve grasshopper calculations faster? I can fit a Nvidia Quadro K5100M that has 8GB on it.

When you say Windows goes to hard disc after RAM is maxed out, would an SSD help this as opposed to HDD?

-Ben 

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