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Blade runner - workstation power on a thin client

Published 01 May 2008

Posted by Greg Corke

Article tagged with: hp, workstations, graphics

It’s been a long time coming, but HP has finally released a Blade Workstation solution specifically designed for the MCAD market. The concept is that you run all your CAD/CAM/CAE applications on a rack of blades which are locked away in a secure data centre and the end user works on their designs using a thin client at the desktop, which can be anywhere in the world.

All data remains on the blade and only pixel information is squirted down the line to a thin client using HP’s Remote Graphics Technology. The client only needs a relatively small processor, memory and not even a 3D graphics card. It might sound like wouldn’t work due to bandwidth issues but I saw this running on a Blade Workstation with a low end Nvidia Quadro FX560 graphics card last year and it worked a treat and HP claims it even works over the Internet.

What’s new about this release is that HP has upped the graphics card to a FX 1600, which gives it a bit more power for serious 3D users. However, it’s interesting that it has taken HP so long to get this new model out as this was originally scheduled for release a year ago. My guess is that HP came across thermal problems. We’ll find out more soon.

Anyway, it’s an interesting technology, which boasts better data security as no actual CAD files leave the blade, easier control as IT staff don’t have to support individual workstations, and no whirring fans under your desk. Watch this space for a full review soon.

www.hp.com/go/bladeworkstations

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Offline Joy: Designing Design by Kenya Hara

Published 30 April 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: graphics, display technology

I don’t know how well the store Muji is known across the globe, but its been in the UK for sometime and their products are pretty slick. All white, black, all slick, green sensitive packaging and pretty brand free. The guy behind their design aesthetic (seriously, the catalog is a thing beauty), is Kenya Hara.

This is one of the first books by him made available in English language (the Japanese ones are worth digging out if you can find them, even if you can’t read them). The official publishers blurb says “In “Designing Design”, he impresses upon the reader the importance of “emptiness” in both the visual and philosophical traditions of Japan, and its application to design, made visible by means of numerous examples from his own work: Hara for instance designed the opening and closing ceremony programs for the Nagano Winter Olympic Games 1998.

What I would add is that if you’re interested in design, whatever sort, graphic, product, industrial, architecture, this book is worth spending the time to sit and consider the thoughts put forward. Its crammed full of some wonderful illustrations, photos and the like and I’m sure would give you some inspiration. You can pick up a copy for 40 euros or there about. My favourite line from is this is:

“The world looks differently if you just sit with your chin in your hand and think”

Link

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DisplayPort - get connected

Published 28 April 2008

Posted by Greg Corke

Article tagged with:

ATI has just unveiled a brand new high-performance graphics card called the FireGL V7700. But what’s so interesting about that I hear you ask? Well, apart from delivering some impressive frame rates under high-end CAD and DCC apps, it features a new interconnect standard called DisplayPort.

DisplayPort is a purely digital standard and can handle resolutions upto 2,560 x 1,600. It’s smaller and thinner than DVI or VGA, a bit like USB, and there’s no need to screw the cable in - which always annoys me so I never end up doing it.

There are currently only a handful of monitors out there with DisplayPort support, which is why the FireGL V7700 also supports DVI. Only time will tell if the technology is going to take off, but it’s certainly a move in the right direction and also makes perfect sense for ultra-thin notebooks. There’s simply no room for a VGA connector on a Mac Book Air… or so Al Dean tells me. I’m still waiting for mine to arrive.

Link

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Back Up - Back Up - Back Up

Published 27 April 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: backup, human error, eejit

Time for a public confession; I’m hoarder of digital stuff. I’ve keep all those MP3s that I never listen to, I’ve keep all my research that I’ve done for 10 years worth of writing about technology, design and whatever else I’ve done. And I back up, every single week. Of course, just because you back-up, doesn’t mean that human error is going to come along and kick you directly in the seat of your trousers. So, this weekend, while rebuilding a laptop, I deleted a partition, started it off reformatting it – it took sometime. When the machine rebooted, I was surprised to see that the same old version of Windows was running. I checked. Yup, the backup disk I had connected, with 10 years worth of research, photos, mp3s and pretty much everything, had gone - half a Terabyte of it – gone. Just goes to show – even a back up is worth nothing when you put an idiot in charge. Arse. Now, where’s my copy of “Enter the 36 Chambers” – I need to re-rip it.

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