Operating System and Hardware Requirements for Visualization Software in the Lab

In both the materials science and life science fields, modeling and simulation software is becoming an increasingly valuable tool in the R&D process. Materials science researchers can use the latest visualization software to better understand connections between the observable properties of a material and its underlying atomic and molecular structures. Similarly, visualization software can support the work of life science researchers by aiding in the rational antibody design process and enabling small molecule modeling, among other capabilities.

However, it may not be possible to run this cutting-edge software on the desktop computer that your lab has relied on for decades. The latest visualization software comes along with more significant software and hardware requirements. If you are one of the forward thinking researchers who are looking to take advantage of the newest visualization software in the lab, it’s important to make sure you have the hardware necessary to support high-level research.

Choosing an Operating System to Support the Latest Visualization Software

You probably already know that most scientific software on the market today runs on either Linux or Windows operating systems. However, you have to make sure that you have a relatively recent operating system. If you prefer to work on Windows, need to have at least Windows 7, and you probably need to have the Professional or the Enterprise edition, rather than the home edition. If your lab uses Linux, you may need to have a certain server distribution. Two of the most common server distributions in science labs today are Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise. Again, you need to have a relatively recent version of each.

Alternatively, if you plan to install on a grid, you should make sure that the grid system version you are using is supported. Because more and more labs are gravitating toward this option for software package installation, the list of options for most software packages is growing, but there are still some limitations. You have to be particularly careful if you are running a grid system on Windows, since it is more common for visualization software to support grid system versions on Linux.

Regardless of your operating system preferences, upgrading to a relatively new system is an important step for any life science or materials science lab. In an age when the scientific community is gravitating toward big data, computer modeling and MD simulations — not to mention data-sharing and collaboration between researchers, labs and institutions — you need to make sure that all of the computers in your lab have the technical capabilities that support an integrated, paperless lab. Even though new software may require a short-term investment, your lab will benefit from long-term payoffs in efficiency and innovation.

Hardware Requirements for Visualization Software

When it comes to hardware requirements for the latest visualization software, there are three things you need to think about: processor speed, RAM and disk space. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when looking at these hardware specs:

    • Processor speed. You will probably need an Intel-compatible processor, and it’s usually best to go with core i5 or higher. Not only required to run some software, but it will also optimize the performance of your systems in a variety of other tasks.


  • RAM. While the requirements vary by software package, you can usually expect a requirement of at least 8 GB of memory for the latest visualization software. However, more is always better because it will enable you to work with more and/or larger systems.
  • Disk space. The amount of disk space you need generally varies based on the modules you plan to use within the software package. For instance, if you are working with life science visualization software, an antibody database of redundant structures can take up as few as 3 GB, while the full BLAST database requires 80 GB of disk space.


These days, many life science and materials science labs already have the equipment necessary to run the latest visualization software, but if your lab is not among them, there has never been a better time to make the switch. Having the ability to explore molecular properties and run simulations can significantly improve efficiency in your lab by saving time and cutting down on resource expenditures. Even more importantly, you can gain insights that go beyond what you can glean from benchtop experiments or legacy software, empowering your lab to make unprecedented scientific advances.

If you’re looking for cutting-edge software in the life science field, BIOVIA Discovery Studio offers the latest advances. Released in 2017, this software builds on Pipeline Pilot to offer a revolutionary experience for life science researchers. For materials scientists, BIOVIA Materials Studio is a great option, offering advanced visualization and prediction tools. The updated 2018 version incorporates new technical capabilities designed to improve performance and user experience. To learn more about these and our other software offerings, contact us today!