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 July 2019 is described below. Please feel free to check with us before purchasing a new system as new options become available nearly every week.
Windows 10, 8 (including 8.1), and 7 are supported. TransCAD 8.0 does not run on Windows XP, but TransCAD 7.0 does. Older versions of Windows, including Windows 98, ME and NT are no longer supported. Server versions of Windows (2008R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019) are supported only with a special TransCAD Remote Desktop license. We are now strongly recommending 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 version of either Windows 10 or Windows 7.
TransCAD/TransModeler benefit from the fastest processors, and we recommend 6, 8, or 12-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 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.
Using TransCAD compute engines, additional cores can be used for parallel processing. This 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-9th generations of Core i7/i9, Xeon E-2100 and Xeon W-2100 series and Xeon Scalable Gold). The previous Broadwell generation of Core i7 and Xeon processors are also acceptable choices. Core i5 desktop processors are satisfactory, but somewhat slower. Historically, AMD processors have not performed as well as the best Intel processors, but the Ryzen desktop processors are acceptable choices. We continue to evaluate new processors as they are introduced.
For routine TransCAD use, we are mostly purchasing Dell Precision 3630 workstations with a 3.7GHz Core i7-8700K 6-core processor, 64GB of memory, a 1TB NVMe SSD, nVidia GTX 1060 graphics card and 64-bit Windows 10 Professional. To evaluate the latest processors (e.g., i7-8086K: 4GHz 6-core or i9-9900K: 3.6GHz 8-core), we are purchasing Dell XPS 8930 desktops with otherwise similar configurations to the Precision workstations.
Currently, our fastest computer for TransCAD and TransModeler is a Dell Precision 7820 workstation with two 3.2GHz Xeon Intel Xeon Gold 6146 12-core processors, 128GB of memory, a 1TB NVMe SSD and 64-bit Windows 10 Professional.
For notebooks, we recommend the fastest Coffee Lake 4 or 6-core Core i7/i9s, since they have significantly longer battery life and can be nearly as fast as a desktop.
As TransCAD is a fully 64-bit application, we recommend a minimum of 16-32GB of RAM and 64-bit Windows 10 (or 7), although 8 GB will be sufficient for many users. If you want to run models with more than 5,000 zones or more, you will want to have even more RAM available. The maximum memory supported by Windows 7 Professional is 192GB. Windows 10 Professional (and Enterprise) removes this limit (2TB). We do not recommend 32-bit machines, but in such situations 4GB of memory should be installed.
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 available in 1TB ($140), 2TB ($280). 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 Plus, available in 500GB ($110), 1TB ($220), 2TB ($500). The Angelbird card has been discontinued, but similar cards are available from Aquacomputer and other manufacturers.
A DVD-ROM drive is suggested as TransCAD and TransModeler are 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 OpenGL 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 have OpenGL acceleration for 3D. Avoid the nVidia Quadro NVS cards, since they do not provide 3D acceleration.
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 or 6-core Mobile Core i7/i9s with a fast NVMe SSD. It is also important to have a good video processor with nVidia graphics (for TransModeler).
We are currently purchasing Dell Precision Mobile 5530 notebooks with 2.9GHz Core i9-8950HK 6-core processors, 32GB of memory, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and 64-bit Windows 10 Professional.
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).