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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Icona takes on Bunkspeed

Published 26 April 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: visualisation, bunkspeed, hypershot, tolerance, aesthetica, icona solutions, quality

If you haven’t come across Icona Solutions before, it develops a system called Aesthetica which allows both quality engineers and stylists to gauge the effect of manufacturing variation; but does so using a technology which allows both parties to do so using the tools and terminology they are used to. Quality engineers can measure gap and flush and all that good stuff, while the stylists and those responsible for aesthetic quality can inspect the different variants of a product using photo realistic visualisation.

What Icona has done is swap out its existing rendering engine for Bunkspeed’s HyperShot, which makes a huge amount of sense.

“This agreement with Bunkspeed enhances our market-leading perceived quality solutions by giving our users the ability to instantly produce photographic-quality images of product variation, with minimal effort but stunning effect”, said Tim Illingworth, commercial director, Icona Solutions. “We look forward to working with Bunkspeed in all those manufacturing sectors where improving a product’s perceived quality and the need for high quality images are critical to market success”, he added.

Version 3 of aesthetica, including the HyperShot integration capability, is scheduled to begin customer shipments in a couple of months time. Oh and HyperShot, if you haven’t seen it, is a rendering tool that rocks.

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Siemens PLM steps up its game..

Published 25 April 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: nx, solid edge, siemens plm, velocity series, future of cad

If you haven’t seen these videos, watch them. They’re pretty amazing. I’d make comments on this technology, but I want you to see it before I do. There are two parts on youtube, but there’s a high-res version worth downloading on the Siemens PLM web-site – looks pretty bloody amazing… Watch this space…

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CircuitWorks gets sold to SolidWorks

Published 25 April 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: solidworks, idf, electronics

OK, we’re working on a bit of a catch up here, so what’s been going on over the last few months. One of the stories that I loved over the past three months is the acquisition of CircuitWorks. Not only does it mean that SolidWorks gets control of an application that provides some pretty essential technology and tools for people that work with electronics and PCBs as a part of their mechanical or industrial design, but it also means that the two guys from Priware get the recognition they’ve deserved for a while. Nice job gents.. Sadly it does mean no more trips to Bristol or Much Wenlock (also the home of the modern olympics) or afternoons spent in the pub. Of course, CircuitWorks Lite has been part of SolidWorks for sometime but, according to the press release, CircuitWorks as a full product will now become immediately available as a component of SolidWorks Office Premium. It will be provided to existing Premium customers at no additional charge.

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