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Blue Ridge launches CFdesign v10

Published 01 July 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: solidworks, simulation, design, catia, nx, inventor, solid edge, proengineer, spaceclaim, cfd

The image above shows simulation results from a Quick Natural Convection on LED light design shown with CFdesign v10 new user interface - nifty looking eh?

Blue Ridge Numerics (at 1pm, UK time today to be exact), released details of the latest release of its CFD application, CFDesign. The big ticket items for this rev seem to be a new user interface, greater CAD integration, better design review features and interactive void filling and external volume creation.

Interesting, UI changes aside (which look pretty good as you can see), the CAD associativity interested me. There are two schools of thought here. To built the app directly within the CAD interface, or to build it standalone and provide tight links. The two are not always as clear-cut as they seem. In all fairness, CFDesign has always been in the Standalone/integrated camp and this release sees that worked on with the ability to extract much more from the CAD data, such as model orientation, part and background, part names and material properties. Blue Ridge also talks about mapping of mouse functions. I guess that this means the user will load CAD data from their workhorse tool and the system can be set to mimic the user interaction methods of that CAD system. Also of interest is the new multi-view mode, which allows you to work with different analysis results sets and have the system synchronise the panning, zooming and rotation of the views. Other updates include interactive void filling and external volume creation meaning you don’t have to do it your CAD system.

Lastly, Blue Ridge has also introduce CFD-tv which provides users with “on-demand, task-specific training in a Web 2.0 format that will appeal to multi-tasking engineers who want to add CFD to their armory.” Apparently, each CFD-tv episode is a short video segment led by a CFdesign power user intended to answer commonly asked questions.

There will of course be a full, indepth review of CFDesign 10 in the next issue of DEVELOP3D - so make sure you sign up for a subscription.

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Autodesk doesn’t go with the flow

Published 26 June 2008

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with: autodesk, cfd, flomerics, acquisition

Yesterday I met Autodesk’s Ken Bado (executive vice president of sales and services) and the first thing we talked about was the potential acquisition of CFD specialist developer, Flomerics. Bado wanted to set the record straight and said that Autodesk was no longer interested in buying the company.

There had been huge speculation of a deal after Flomerics issued a statement to shareholders announcing that the board was in discussions with Autodesk over a possible offer for the company. The move followed aggressive share purchases by silicon design tool specialist, Mentor Graphics.

In an added twist to the plot Mentor has just become the subject of a potential hostile take over from its biggest competitor, Cadence. In a highly fluid situation, Autodesk’s shock decision to pull out of negotiations further muddies the waters, as to what fate Flomerics will have.

While a deal now looks unlikely, autodesk has shown its hand and has interests to add high-end CFD to its mechanical pot. The news probably has SolidWorks execs in Boston breathing a sigh of relief too, as had Autodesk got hold of it, Floworks would have vanished.

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Download your FREE copy of DEVELOP3D

Published 25 June 2008

Posted by Greg Corke

Article tagged with: develop3d

The launch edition of DEVELOP3D is now available for FREE download. Simply click here and if you’ve already regsitered away you go. We’ve kept it above 10MB coz we didn’t want to ruin the look of the mag with all that nasty image compression. Anyway, let us know what you think.

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HP Blade MCAD Workstation

Published 24 June 2008

Posted by Greg Corke

Article tagged with:

Blade Workstations are exactly like standard workstations - insofar as they run desktop CAD/CAM/CAE applications, perform complex calculations and offer powerful 3D graphics - but instead of sitting under an engineer’s desk they are locked away in a secure data centre and accessed remotely by a thin client.

To understand what a Blade Workstation is, it’s best to think of it as a workstation with very long monitor, mouse and keyboard cables. All the calculations are carried out on the Blade and with the help of HP’s advanced Remote Graphics Software (RGS) it transmits display data over TCP/IP to a thin client which sits on the end user’s desk. The thin client simply displays this display data frame by frame in real time and feeds back mouse and keyboard input to the blade.

According to HP, on most networks, even on some high-speed Internet connections, latency is not a problem and when it’s lerss than 50ms it generally gives a similar experience as if you had a workstation sat underneath your desk.

HP’s Blade Workstations are rack mounted and will happily co-exist in the same rack as HP’s Blade Servers. In fact they are virtually identical to Blade Servers, the key difference being that they include a professional 3D graphics card. This gives them the ability to work with complex 3D models and manipulate them on screen. All of the 3D graphics processing is done on the Blade so the thin client only needs a modest 2D card.

HP has just released a new MCAD-focused Blade Workstation, which is certified to run a number of applications including, Catia, Siemens NX, PTC Pro/Engineer, Autodesk AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, and SolidWorks. It carries a Nvidia Quadro FX 1600M as its flagship graphics card, which is equivalent to a mid-range offering in most standard workstations.

So there’s the technology backgrounder, but what are the real world benefits of HP’s Blade Workstation solution?

Data management: One of the biggest advantages of HP’s Blade Workstation solution is that confidential data never leaves the data centre, which not only makes it more secure, but easier to manage. The thin client only ever receives pixel data transmitted from the Blade, so intelligent vector-based CAD/CAM/CAE geometry can’t be stolen or lost, or the wrong revision used. N.B. This is why the client only needs a 512MB solid state hard drive.

While this can be a huge benefit for single engineering departments it becomes even more relevant for multi-site enterprises, or those outsourcing design or manufacture. With a low latency connection it is possible to run Blade Workstations from the other side of the world, with all your data stored and managed in a central PDM system. This also lends itself well to collaborative design review as you don’t have to transfer large amounts of CAD data in advance. With the Blade you can access your data instantly.

Blade workstations also reduce desk-side hardware maintenance as each client box just needs to be configured with a standard OS disk image, independent of individual applications.

User flexibility: When a user logs on at a client they are hardwired to a Blade. Up to four blades can be accessed by a single client giving the user huge amounts of power at their disposal for complex analysis or rendering operations. With a multi-monitor set up each Blade can be assigned a screen, but rather than having to flick a switch the user simply moves the mouse onto the relevant screen to take control of the relevant blade.

Sessions can be maintained on the blade so users can move between clients simply my logging on at a different location. This can even be done at home on a standard laptop running HP’s RGS software. For example, a user could start an analysis job at the end of the working day, log on in the evening to interpret the results and tweak the design, then start a new simulation and then have the results ready for their arrival at work in the morning.

Environmental control: Powerful CAD/CAD/CAE workstations produce a lot of noise and heat and, if you put these under every engineer’s desk, managing this can be a major headache. Putting everything in a central location makes it easier to control but the downside is you have to invest in a dedicated data centre with its own power and air conditioning system, which is not cheap.


HP’s Blade Workstations are a high end solution, targeted at the enterprise rather than the SME. There’s a considerable investment required to get the infrastructure in place, but it’s clear that the benefits can be considerable.

It’s taken quite a while for HP to deliver an MCAD-specific system and part of this is down to securing essential certification from all the major CAD vendors. One also wonders if there have been technical issues as despite boosting the graphics performance with the introduction of Nvidia’s Quadro FX 1600M, this is not the high-end card that you would expect to find in an enterprise class MCAD workstation.

From streamlined collaboration to ultimate flexibility for users, HP’s Blade Workstation offers something new and exciting to the workstation sector. And for defence companies, or indeed any organization with sensitive design data, it’s certainly a compelling solution.

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