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PTC states it’s agnostic on the cult of CAD-on-the-cloud

Published 28 July 2010

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with: solidworks, autodesk, dassault systemes, ptc, siemens plm, proengineer, windchill, brian shepherd, cad as a service, extinction level event

As a magazine that primarily deals with software developers, the last year has seen pretty much all the main protagonists come out with some statement or demonstration of how their products could work on the cloud. Companies, such as Autodesk, are actively trialling CAD solutions which run over the web from a central server, as well as rendering, simulation and document view and mark-up applications. Dassault Systems, SolidWorks (a DS company) and Siemens PLM (now renamed Siemens Industry Software) are all due to launch commercial cloud applications later this year. So, in design, the Cloud hype is soon to become a reality.

However, perhaps all is not well in the world of cloud-based computing, with some suggesting that customers are not ready for this and the technology is not proven for reliability. Having watched the ‘Tweets’ coming from SolidWorks World attendees, one could watch an arc of euphoria as future cloud technology was demonstrated, followed by a generic feeling of hangover as customers appeared to question if they really wanted to work over a web connection. These customers, it seems, are joined with the developer of Pro/Engineer, PTC. I recently was contacted by Brian Shepherd, Executive Vice President, Product Development who wanted to go on record as to how PTC saw all this talk of cloudy futures for CAD.

PTC already has a cloud application, its Windchill PLM solution is and has been available as an online service through partners such as IBM for a number of years. However, the firm is concerned at the level of hype around running CAD on the cloud.

Shepherd explained, “We are agnostic around the cloud. We don’t feel the need to, or think we should be championing CAD on the cloud to our customers. With our conversations with customers, they have not identified a problem that cloud delivery of CAD would address. To be clear, we are not anti-cloud. Areas such as grid computing around CAE is interesting, and can make some sense but there just hasn’t been the demand for CAD on the cloud.”

“Today we don’t sense that kind of overwhelming desire or drive for this.  We are not listening to analysts, or to cloud providers and trying not to get distracted by hype. We are just trying to address the real problems. Customers are not saying they have problems with deployment or scaleable infrastructure. Our focus for the future of CAD is around ‘Project Lightning’ which addresses usability, interoperability and assembly management.” (Project Lightning is PTC’s vision and strategy to define the next 20 years of CAD and can be read about here )

So, while PTC can see PLM as a cloud service and potentially for CAE analysis, when it comes to modelling over the cloud, Shepherd appeared at a loss as to what the benefit would be.

He continued, “Will CAD be faster on the cloud than it is on the desktop? Maybe for CAE that could be true but for CAD that might not be true, which is a surely a step backwards In fact, cloud computing in CAD sounds like a solution in search of a problem today.”

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The Big Bang: how to get young people excited about science and engineering

Published 28 July 2010

Posted by Tanya Weaver

Article tagged with: engineering, education, students, young engineers

For many years organisations such as EngineeringUK and Young Engineers have been banging on about how we need to enthuse and inspire young people about careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (otherwise known as STEM). In fact research done by the Careers Research Advisory Council show that young people are not choosing STEM subjects because they are seen as too difficult, un-aspirational and un-sexy whilst EngineeringUK recently reported an alarming statistic that only 7% of careers advisors and lecturers say that they would currently recommend a career in engineering to their brightest students.

So, what better way of motivating and informing young people about how exciting and quite frankly sexy science and engineering can be than by bringing them all together in one action packed and interactive event. This is exactly what the Big Bang Fair has set out to do - celebrate and raise the profile of young peoples’ achievements in science and engineering as well as encouraging them to take part in STEM initiatives. The regional Big Bang Fair London was held recently at Westminster Kingsway College and over 1300 young people attended who were all captivated by the demonstrations, workshops, exhibition stands and theatrical shows taking place.

The fair also showcased 74 student projects who were all competing in the London regional heats of the Young Engineer for Britain, National Science and Engineering Competition and CREST Awards. For 15 to 18 year olds there were certainly some quite impressive ideas such as Charles Barton, a pupil at Westminster School who won the Young Engineer’s competition for 17-18 year old category for his Sunlight Lamp, an RGB LED desk lamp that wakes you up naturally by imitating the colours of a sun rise. Other winning projects included the world’s smallest water museum, an antidote to chilli, metallic jewellery, a ladder attachment to store your tools and a hydroponics garden.

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Nvidia launches Fermi-based Quadro graphics cards (plus Quadro 5000 benchmark)

Published 27 July 2010

Posted by Greg Corke

Article tagged with: amd, nvidia, quadro, cae, gpu compute, opengl, ati firepro, directx, fermi

Nvidia’s new Quadro 5000 features 2.5GB GDDR5 memory

It’s been a long time coming, but today at Siggraph 2010 Nvidia unveiled its brand new family of Quadro professional graphics cards based on its Fermi architecture. There are currently three new cards in the range: the high-end Quadro 4000 (2GB GDDR5 memory) and Quadro 5000 (2.5GB GDDR5 memory) and the ultra high-end Quadro 6000 (6GB GDDR5 memory). These will replace the Quadro FX 3800, Quadro FX 4800 and Quadro FX 5800, Nvidia’s previous generation cards.

As is traditional for new Quadro launches, Nvidia starts at the high-end and works down so if you were wondering where the entry-level and mid-range cards are expect these to be announced later this year.

In terms of availability, Nvidia said that the Quadro 4000 and Quadro 5000 will ship in the August timeframe, whereas the Quadro 6000 will be not be out until September / October because of its high capacity memory modules not yet being available.

For those interested in the all important bottom line, the new Fermi Quadro cards don’t come cheap, with the Quadro 4000, 5000 and 6000 having an estimated RRP of £779, £1,709 and £3,579 respectively. In the case of the Quadro 4000 and 5000 this is largely down to both cards also having dedicated High Performance Computing (HPC) features in addition to their core use as a graphics card.

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How does a workshop to learn more about Ecodesign and LifeCycle Assessment (LCA) grab your fancy?

Published 22 July 2010

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, green design, design tools, sustainable minds, lca, lifecycle analysis, ecodesign, cold hard reality of environmental damage

I’m a couple of days away from swapping my MacBook for a real book or two and disappearing on a couple of week’s holiday, so I’m rather quickly bashing through everything on my to-do list, arranging some content for the next few issues and avoiding phone calls from Greg wondering “Where the **** is the copy for page 4?” - all at the same time as winding down for some countryside peace and quiet.

While I’m off there’s a couple of things that I’m going to miss (in terms of logistics). SIGGRAPH is on soon and looks interesting although I’ve never been - something always comes out of that with serious application to our field of coverage - and it would have been worth attending just to watch the bun-fight between the Luxion and Bunkspeed guys.

The other is an online workshop (I can’t use the word “webinar” in any seriousness) being held by the folks at Sustainable Minds on the 27th of July. If you’re not aware of the company and its online offering, then its worth a look if you have any interest in sustainable design, in green design, in ecodesign (insert over used cliche here at will). We took a look at version 1.1 of the service a couple of months ago, but this are progressing nicely with 1.3 adding some much needed unit flexibility.

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