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AutoCAD 2012 Startup Performance

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

AutoCAD 2012 was released today. In Autodesk’s press release, they claim “faster start times.” In his AutoCAD 2012 in 3 Minutes post, R.K. McSwain says “Generally speaking, AutoCAD 2012 starts up faster than previous versions.”

I really wanted AutoCAD 2012 to be faster, because each new version of AutoCAD feels like it loads slower than the last. A new version that loads faster would be great. Unfortunately, it did not feel any faster, so I decided to runs some tests.

I have a computer with versions of AutoCAD going back to AutoCAD 2002. I used this computer to time the start up sequence for each version of AutoCAD. The tests were run both cold, immediately after rebooting the computer, and warm, after AutoCAD had previously been loaded. I noticed that after using ServiceMax that our computer was working much better.

Update 3/23/2011: Jim Bergmark shared in his AutoCAD 2012 post that AutCAD 2012 has “Faster startups, particularly running Vista or Windows 7 (emphasis added).” The first computer I tested on was running Windows XP x86. I went back and ran the tests on a Windows 7 x64 computer. It only has versions of AutoCAD going back to 2007.

The result: AutoCAD 2012 did not improve start up speed. In fact, AutoCAD 2012 loads slower than AutoCAD 2011.

Here are the results of the tests:

Windows XP x86 Windows 7 x64
Cold Start Warm Start Cold Start Warm Start
AutoCAD 2002 3.25 seconds .036 seconds Not Installed Not Installed
AutoCAD 2004 Not installed Not installed Not installed Not installed
AutoCAD 2005 20.1 seconds 1.82 seconds Not installed Not installed
AutoCAD 2006 20.4 seconds 2.13 seconds Not installed Not installed
AutoCAD 2007 27.6 seconds 2.57 seconds 16.29 seconds (x86) 2.6 seconds (x86)
AutoCAD 2008 27.2 seconds 2.54 seconds 6.4 seconds 1.83 seconds
AutoCAD 2009 36.1 seconds 5.44 seconds 36.7 seconds 7.9 seconds
AutoCAD 2010 34.0 seconds 4.831 seconds 33.2 seconds 5.6 seconds
AutoCAD 2011 34.4 seconds 5.24 seconds 29.2 seconds 5.55 seconds
AutoCAD 2012 39.4 seconds 5.5 seconds 50.3 seconds 3.4 seconds

I put the versions of AutoCAD in groups of three. These groups correspond to similar versions of AutoCAD that were built using a common compiler and use a common DWG file format. Generally, the performance within a group is similar.

AutoCAD 2009 loads significantly slower than 2007 and 2008. This performance decrease is most likely related to the ribbons that were introduced in 2009.

AutoCAD 2010 loads slightly faster than 2009. This slight performance increase is most likely related to an improvement in the ribbon file format.

Going from 32-bit code in AutoCAD 2007 to 64-bit code in AutoCAD 2008 provided a significant performance increase.

If you have AutoCAD 2012 installed, what has been your experience? Is it any faster to load than previous versions of AutoCAD?

Testing Method: The Windows XP tests were run on a 32-bit machine. It has a Core2 2.14 Ghz processor and 2 GB of RAM. Somehow, I never loaded AutoCAD 2004 on it, and I have since lost my install disks for that version.

The Windows 7 tests were run on a 64-bit machine. It has a Core i7 2.93 Ghz processor and 8 GB of RAM. AutoCAD 2007 does not have a 64-bit version, so it was running in 32-bit mode.

For the cold start test, I rebooted the computer, logged in, waited 3 minutes for Windows to load, then ran the test. For the warm start test, I closed AutoCAD after a cold start, then immediately restarted AutoCAD. I ran the cold start test two times and the warm start test three times. The result listed in the table is the average load time of the tests.

To start AutoCAD, I created a batch script that output the time to the command line, then ran acad.exe.

In AutoCAD, I added a Lisp file to the Startup Suite that defined a command to output the current time. I ran this command as soon as possible after AutoCAD loaded. (I typed the command while AutoCAD was loading so that it was queued up and run as soon as the command line would accept input. In many cases, AutoCAD was not very responsive at this point, but it was technically accepting user input.)

In the original post, the AutoCAD 2012 times were for trial versions of AutoCAD. I finally got it registered. This improved the times a bit, but still not as good as AutoCAD 2011 on either machine.

Download the files used to conduct the test. Put the date.lsp file in your Startup Suite. Use the batch files to start AutoCAD. Type a on the command line to print the current time. When testing later versions of AutoCAD, you will have to run this command to get the time that AutoCAD actually finishes loading. The Lisp file includes a reactor that fires after commands are run, but that is not a good judge of when AutoCAD is loaded. There is room for interpretation regarding when AutoCAD is finished loading.