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The DEVELOP3D July/August workstation special edition is out now

Published 29 July 2009

Posted by greg corke

Article tagged with:

The next issue of DEVELOP3D is out and we’ve gone all psychedelic on you for our workstation special edition – apologies if our cover hurts your eyes. We’ve got all manner of goodies – Top ten tips for tuning your workstation, choosing a graphics card for SolidWorks, Intel Xeon Nehalem workstation reviews and the rise of GPUs in simulation.

In keeping with our workstation theme, we also paid a visit to 3D mouse specialist, 3Dconnexion to see how it uses a finely balanced combination of CAD and rapid prototyping in the development of its latest SpacePilot Pro devices. Of course, we also have our usual smorgasbord of reviews and previews and this month Autodesk’s long awaited Inventor Fusion finally gets a public airing as does a new web-based tool called Vuuch that co-ordinates design discussions directly inside your CAD application – and lots, lots more.

Click here to download your copy now – registration required (FREE)

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Apple iPhone goes 3D with NaviCAD

Published 29 July 2009

Posted by greg corke

Article tagged with: dassault systemes, iphone app, solidsmack, navicad

Here’s a nice little story from Josh over at He’s been trying out the first 3D viewer app for the Apple iPhone – NaviCAD 3D – but has had some mixed experiences. I’m not entirely sold on the concept, particularly as it only currently works with Google 3D warehouse models, but it’s an interesting tech demonstration, and it only costs $0.99 from iTunes.

Dassault Systemes recently previewed its own application for the iPhone that allows users to connect to the 3D data respository, view data and manipulate it in 3D.

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Spatial to help CAD/CAM/CAE software developers take advantage of multiple CPU cores

Published 29 July 2009

Posted by greg corke

Article tagged with: multithreading, cpu, acis, multi-core, spatia

Applications running Spatial’s new ACIS thread technology should thrive on multi-core workstations, such as this beast of a machine from HP, the Xeon 5500 Series-based Z800

This is an interesting story for those wondering what to do with all the CPU cores they now have in their workstation. Spatial, who makes 3D development components for design, manufacturing and engineering applications, has added dedicated multi-threaded capabilities to its standard ACIS 3D modeller.

For those that don’t know, ACIS sits at the heart of a wide range of CAD/CAM/CAE applications and while it’s arguably not as popular as Parasolid from Siemens PLM (in terms of the mainstream applications it supports), there is a huge list of supported 3D apps, including IronCAD, SpaceClaim, Moldflow, EdgeCAM, and MSC.Software, to name but a few.

The technology in question is called ACIS thread-safe and according to Spatial, for compute-intensive operations, it delivers near linear performance scaling on multi-core systems. The company claims significant performance gains can be achieved when faceting, sectioning, and performing most ACIS modelling operations which work on multiple independent parts.

With typical software development cycles anywhere from 6-24 months, the tech has yet to appear in any mainstream applications. However, McMaster University has implemented ACIS thread-safe capabilities in both a machining tool path optimizer and a rapid prototyping wall thickness verification program, realizing near 3x speed-up on a quad core computer.

I find it extremely interesting that component builders, such as Spatial are developing multi-threaded code (N.B. Multi-threaded capabilities also exist in Parasolid). With quad core CPUs standard and eight core CPUs over the horizon it’s good to see that developments are under way to use this additional processing power at the heart of our 3D software and not just in peripheral areas of simulation, rendering and CNC toolpath generation.

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Broadband rates not up to speed

Published 28 July 2009

Posted by greg corke

Article tagged with: the cloud, saas, broadband, bandwidth

Moving processor intensive CAE operations to The Cloud is no use whatsoever if our broadband connection is inconsistent. Image Copyright P R Yakin –

The findings in this latest report from UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, really annoyed me.

Many of us pay for high-bandwidth broadband connections but simply don’t get what we pay for. It’s a bit like buying a pint of beer and only being served a half. OK, so it’s not, but you get my point.

Business connections are of course much better, and you get what you pay for, but even at our London office we sometimes get much less than our 16mbps business connection is supposed to offer and upload speed is consistently underwhelming. You only have to tot up the number of WiFi signals in the area to understand why – 20 at the last count from the comfort of my desk

I guess most engineering/design firms don’t have central city addresses, but in the UK it’s often the remote companies that suffer more simply because high-bandwidth connections aren’t available. Regardless of location it’s essential for all, even the smaller firms who can’t afford dedicated lines, to have reliable and consistent connections. This is even more important when you consider the ever expanding size of the CAD/CAE datasets that we work with and the need for reliable connections will get even more critical if we move our processing to the Cloud or adopt a SaaS delivery system for our 3D software. These are technologies that many CAD/CAE developers are currently giving serious consideration to.

What’s broadband like where you work/live? Are you paying for bandwidth you simply don’t get? Does it hinder your adoption of Web-based technologies or, like me, do you simply like having a bit of a rant? I’d love to hear your thoughts/experiences.

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