TransCAD and TransModeler are high performance technical software products that are often used to perform demanding computational tasks. Consequently, we recommend using the fastest, modestly priced systems that are available at any particular point in time. Recommended hardware as of March 2020 is described below. Please feel free to check with us before purchasing a new system as new options become available nearly every week.
We recommend Windows 10 or 11. Server versions of Windows (2008R2 (no longer supported by Microsoft), 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019) are supported only with a special TransCAD Remote Desktop license. We recommend only using a 64-bit OS for all new machines, so that they are able to access more memory with the 64-bit version of TransCAD. At Caliper, we use the 64-bit professional or workstation version of Windows 10.
TransCAD/TransModeler benefit from the fastest processors, and we recommend 6, 8, or 12 and up-core single and dual processor machines with those chips for running large models. TransCAD and TransModeler have key multi-threaded procedures that automatically sense and take advantage of multiple cores and multiple CPUs. In particular, the default (n-conjugate) user equilibrium (UE) traffic assignment in TransCAD will scale almost linearly with the number of cores. UE will run roughly eight times faster when there is a single eight core CPU. The matrix engine in TransCAD is also multi-threaded and benefits greatly from multi-core hardware. There are also procedures whose performance scales with the clock speed of the CPU, so higher clock speeds are always desirable. The boost speed is an important aspect of the latest processors, and boost speeds for a single core or multiple cores above 5GHz are very attractive.
Many chips support hyperthreading in which each core runs two threads. We have found hyperthreading to be underwhelming for TransCAD procedures. In our experience, hyperthreading can sometimes reduce computing times by a small percentage for some calculations, but can also increase them significantly. Consequently, we recommend turning off hyperthreading unless you can establish that it is beneficial through your own testing on specific problems.
Not every process is computationally demanding enough to benefit from using all the available cores for multi-threading. For example, some gravity models run in only a few seconds. For procedures that take only a few second to run, multi-threading can actually increase the run times since there is always some overhead that is associated with it. Also, for heavier calculations, due to Amdahl’s law, there will be diminishing returns to using an increasing number of threads above a certain point. One reason is that some operations like reading and writing data to disk may take a constant amount of time, and so overall computing time will level off after the numerical calculations are efficiently threaded. If there are spare cores not needed for some procedures, they can be used for parallel processing with TransCAD computing engines. For example, one could run AM and PM peak traffic assignments simultaneously. Parallel processing makes it highly attractive to have many cores as long as there is no great reduction in clock speed (dropping below 3GHz).
For workstations, we recommend the Intel Coffee Lake and Skylake families of processors (7th-10th generations of Core i7/i9, Xeon E-2100/2200 and Xeon W-2100/2200 series and Xeon Scalable Gold). Core i5 desktop processors are satisfactory, but somewhat slower.
During the past two years, AMD has introduced competitive high-end workstation processors that are worth considering, particularly the latest based on the Zen 2 architecture. The Ryzen Threadrippers are available with up to 64 cores on a single chip. We have had good success with the 32-core version. Availability from major manufacturors is still limited, but the Threadrippers provide very good performance and are often cheaper than the comparable Intel solution. The desktop Ryzen 7 and 9 procesors with 8-16 cores should also work well.
We continue to evaluate new processors as they are introduced.
For routine TransCAD use, we are mostly purchasing either Dell Precision 3630 workstations or Dell XPS 8930 desktops with a 3.6GHz Core i9-9900K 8-core processor, 64GB of memory, a 1 or 2TB NVMe SSD, nVidia RTX 2060 graphics card with 6GB and 64-bit Windows 10 Professional.
Currently, our fastest computer for TransCAD and TransModeler is a Dell Precision 7920 workstation with two 3.1GHz Xeon Intel Xeon Gold 6254 18-core processors, 256GB of memory, a 1TB NVMe SSD and 64-bit Windows 10 Professional.
A recent AMD-based workstation from Puget Systems runs large TransModeler models well. It has a 3.7GHz Ryzen Threadripper 3970X with 32 cores, 256GB of RAM, a 2TB NVMe SSD and 64-bit Windows 10 Professional.
For notebooks, we recommend the fastest Coffee Lake 4 to 8-core Core i7/i9 processors, since they have significantly longer battery life and can be nearly as fast as a desktop.
Both TransCAD and TransModeler are highly efficient with respect to memory utilization, a legacy of the past when only limited amounts of memory were useable by DOS and earlier versions of Windows. As TransCAD is a fully 64-bit application, however, we recommend a minimum of 16-32GB of RAM and 64-bit Windows 10, although 8 GB will be sufficient for some users. If you have a machine with many cores, please be aware that some procedures will require more memory to run more threads. For example, 64GB or more is recommended when running assignments or transit skimming with more than 5,000 zones or on large networks, when running path-based assignments, or when saving paths from the regular conjugate assignment. All bets on memory needs are off when TransCAD is used with certain third party ABMs, some of which might require 200+.GB for large models.
For most TransModeler simulations, 8GB will be sufficient. Our largest models may require 10GB.
We do not recommend 32-bit machines. We have phased out 32-bit versions of our products.
500GB or more of storage space is recommended. If you will be working with many large data sets, you will want more storage. It is always wise to backup your important data frequently.
The biggest performance improvement of the past few years has been the widespread availability of SSDs, especially the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, that can be ten or more times faster than the older 7200rpm mechanical drives. We no longer bother with RAID for our workstations. We recommend at least a SATA-based SSD and strongly suggest a NVMe SSD in any new machine.
For replacement SATA SSDs, we like the Samsung 860 EVO and Pros. Add-on NVMe SSDs are also available; we have added them to recent desktops using an Angelbird Wings PX1 PCIe x4 M.2 Adapter with a Samsung 970 EVO SSD. The Angelbird card has been discontinued, but similar cards are available from Aquacomputer and other manufacturers. We have had great success with the Samsung Data Migration Software to clone existing boot drives to a new Samsung SSD.
A DVD drive is suggested as TransCAD and TransModeler are sometimes supplied physically on DVD; a download option is also available.
For TransModeler, a good graphics card is critical for the animation of the simulation. TransModeler has full 3D animation that requires hardware-based graphics acceleration. For the best 3D performance we recommend the Pascal (GTX1000) and Turing (RTX2000) consumer (gaming) cards. The nVidia Quadro cards based on the Maxwell, Pascal and Turing processors should also work, but cost significantly more.
The older nVidia (GTX900, GTX700) and recent ATI Radeon graphics cards should also work well. Many older nVidia and ATI Radeon cards will also work, but with lower 3D performance; as should the Intel HD Graphics built into many of their recent processors. A minimum of 128MB of video memory is required, but 1+GB is recommended.
For good 3D animation with TransModeler on a notebook, we recommend a high-end nVidia graphics card. Many older laptops cannot animate complex 3D simulations.
For TransCAD, any of video adapters mentioned in the preceding paragraph will provide good 2D performance and limited 3D visualization. Avoid the nVidia Quadro NVS cards, since they do not provide 3D acceleration.
For some of TransCAD 9.0’s forthcoming 3D visualization features, we recommend a recent graphics card with 4GB or more of video memory. Recent cards that we have purchased include the nVidia RTX2060 with 6GB and the nVidia GTX1650 with 4GB .
This is very dependent on user preferences. A 20” or larger monitor that can display at least 1280x1024 is recommended. We like the 23 or 24” wide-screen panels that can display 1920x1080. We mostly purchase Dell UltraSharp LCD monitors. Dual monitors can be very useful for heavy interactive use. For the higher 4K resolution, we liked the Dell 27” U2718Q. Windows 10 is required for 4K.
This is site dependent. Gigabit Ethernet is a good choice for new installations.
TransCAD should work with any printers that work well with Microsoft Windows. Caliper produces large format maps and exhibit graphics using a Hewlett Packard DesignJet 800ps. We also use HP Color Laserjets for smaller maps.
Many of our above suggestions also apply to notebook computers. We recommend the Coffee Lake (eighth generation) or later, 4 to 8-core Mobile Core i7/i9 processors with a fast NVMe SSD. It is also important to have a good video processor with nVidia graphics (for TransModeler or TransCAD 9.0).
We are currently purchasing Dell Precision Mobile 5540 notebooks with 2.4GHz Core i9-9980HK 8-core processors, 64GB of memory, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and 64-bit Windows 10 Professional. These are very similar to the Dell XPS 15” models. .
We do not recommend running large TransCAD models or TransModeler simulations in a virtual computing environment (Citrix, VMWare, Windows Terminal Server, etc). Our compute-intensive engineering applications will at times make use of all the resources available to them. This is especially true of CPU, and for TransModeler GPU, resources. While key components are multi-threaded, other portions are not and benefit from the fastest clock speeds available. Typical virtualized servers have no more CPU capacity than high-end engineering workstations, so it is not feasible to replace multiple workstations with a single server, and it makes little financial sense to do so.
We use a UPS with all of our workstations. This helps protect against power spikes as well as providing backup power for 15-30 minutes, which is very important for long model runs. We mostly use APC units with a 1500VA rating, such as the BX1500M ($165).