I've recently built a new machine (i7900, 32GB RAM, 2 x Quadro P4000) and the render performance is good although the hardware doesn't break sweat and i think it could be even better if Blender used more resources. Will continue to investigate how to do that.
Anyway, my current issue involves rigid body animations. Once again the hardware is lightly used by Blender - CPU 7% max - and the simulation takes over 2 hours. It involves 1300 spheres falling under gravity.
My question is, can i run the simulation with low poly substitutes (replace UV spheres with cubes or similar?) and then apply the simulation data to the spheres? I think this would really speed things up if there was a way of doing this.
Appreciate any thoughts or ideas.