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Catia V6R2009x: it does stuff

Published 25 November 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: simulation, design, catia, rendering, dassault systemes, cryptic press releases 101

Design team interaction is something that DS are taking to new levels.

Dassault Systemes has launched Catia V6R2009x at its annual European Catia Forum event at Disneyland Paris. As ever, the press release is an absolute doozie. When you spend your time reading these things, getting anything from DS is always a joy. Why? Because the company’s shear inability to actually tell you what they mean is always fascinating thing to work with. Take this paragraph:

As with the previous release of V6, Release 2009x is designed to extend the value of customers’ existing PLM assets. Dassault Systemes continues to develop and make available transition scenarios for its varied user base, including customers with mixed DS and non-DS applications. Support for collaborative design scenarios between V4/V5 and V6 enables gradual adoption of V6 for an OEM and its supply chain. Further, DS plans additional releases of its popular V5 line of solutions, such as the recently announced V5R19, whose functionality enhancements are synchronized with and available in V6R2009x.

What I think they’re trying to say is:

With V6R2009x, you can do more with your data. If you’re using V4 or V6, then there are tools to move data to V6 (the use of transition is telling - it means its a one way move, not bi-directional). If you mix and match data (such as Catia and something else), then this is also possible. They’re not going to discontinue V5 and have a new release out now called V5R19.

Dassault have some truly breathtaking technology and products, and as you dig into the web-site that details all the advances made in the R2009x release of V6, that becomes more and more apparent.

The real time rendering looks incredible, the ability to work interactively on your live data, with geographically dispersed design teams, to inspect data visual and gain a meaningful idea of how your product is progressing (using the 3Dlive tools) are all ahead of the game.

Why Dassault can’t manage to communicate that in a simple press release baffles me. Baffles me entirely.

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nVidia launches 4GB beast

Published 24 November 2008

Posted by greg corke

Article tagged with: nvidia, graphics cards, cuda

Nvidia has again upped the ante in the professional graphics sector with the launch of a new monster of a board, which is likely to set you back around £2,000.

With 4GB RAM, the ultra high-end Quadro FX 5800 has the biggest amount of memory on any graphics card, doubling the previous 2GB record held by AMD’s ATI FireGL V8650. However, this amount of memory and the high-level performance that this card boasts, is only likely to appeal to a small proportion of users, with nVidia touting the medical imaging, oil and gas, and automotive styling sectors, as key markets. Additional interest is likely to come from high-end CAD and design visualisation users with products such as NX and 3ds Max, particularly if these companies need one or two top-end workstations to complement their mid-range machines.

Built using the nVidia’s parallel CUDA architecture, the Quadro FX 5800 is also set to play a key role in the company’s drive to move complex computational problems away from the CPU and onto the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit).

While nVidia has done much to promote this technology, which is specific to nVidia hardware, little progress has been made in the mainstream CAE sector, with the majority of developments coming in the more niche areas of science and finance.

One development that should help bring CUDA more into the mainstream, is the launch of nVidia’s new Quadro CX card, which is a dedicated graphics accelerator for Adobe Creative Suite 4. With the Quadro CX, CUDA is used to encode H.264 videos in Adobe Premiere at what is claimed to be lightning-fast speeds. The card also powers real time image manipulation in Photoshop for the first time, though this feature is actually supported by all OpenGL 2.0 compliant graphics cards.

While the £1,000+ price tag is likely to put off all but the most power hungry users of Creative Suite, nVidia Quadro supplier, PNY, told DEVELOP3D that this card would also deliver excellent performance in 3D CAD/DCC applications. This could make it an attractive proposition for design visualisation specialists who use Photoshop and Premiere alongside products such as 3ds Max.

At the other end of the spectrum, nVidia’s Quadro business is also concentrating on the lower end of the market with the launch of the Quadro FX 470, the company’s first integrated professional motherboard GPU, and Quadro FX 370 Low Profile (LP), an entry-level Quadro graphics board for small form factor systems. While Nvidia has not yet signed up any of the major workstation OEMs for the Quadro FX 370 LP and Quadro FX 470, specialist workstation manufacturer CAD2 told DEVELOP3D that it was currently investigating the new technologies and hoped to be able to offer small form factor workstations in the New Year.

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PTC encourage boys and their toys

Published 24 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: ptc, proengineer, scalextric, schools, my little pony

As Christmas approaches many a man will go bleary-eyed reminiscing of that childhood memory of waking in hope of finding a Scalextric set under the Christmas tree; only to find they’d been brought My Little Pony.

Now PTC are jumping on the retro toy bandwagon and joining up with Hornby to launch the Scalextric4schools Slot Car Design Challenge.

Using Pro/Engineer Wildfire software secondary school children to design their own Scalextric car then manufacture their car, fit it with a standard Scalextric motor and drive train and then race it on a standard Scalextric track. During this process the aim is to teach the students how the car works mechanically and dynamically and strive to design a car to go round a Scalextric track as quickly as possible.

“PTC is committed to delivering a truly unique and rewarding academic learning experience,” says PTC education programme manager Mike Brown. “Our strong relationship with Hornby Hobbies, together with their world-class Scalextric range of products provides the perfect foundation on which to continue development and expansion of our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum modules.”

Via the ‘CAD in Schools’ initiative every school in the UK can obtain a 300 seat site license of Pro/Engineer software at no cost to the school; the license also includes free home use for students.

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The ‘Analyst problem” & Aberdeen’s New Digital Prototyping tool

Published 24 November 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: autodesk, digital prototyping, analyst strangeness, aberdeen research

I was fascinated by this news release. The Aberdeen Group has launched a online digital prototyping assessment tool, which utilizes the outfit’s “primary research in product innovation, helps companies identify their biggest product development challenges, compares their design practices to industry benchmarks, and quantifies potential time and cost savings by adopting Best-in-Class capabilities.”

An impressive sounding thing. Wait. There’s more. The assessment, which is in the form of a short multi-stage questionnaire is based on the group’s “unique PACE research methodology, steps through the product development process to determine where an individual company excels and helps identify opportunities for improvement.”

When you’ve registered for the assessment, you’re taken through a few questions, some of which are multiple choice, some of which are single choice from a list of options. The end goal is that the system “makes recommendations by comparing responses to prior Aberdeen research that identified design and engineering best practices exhibited by Best-in-Class companies.”

Once done you then receive a summary of how your company compare “to other organizations as well as custom tailored next steps to improve their development process.” I went through the process and while its initially interesting how the questions are structured, what language is used and the end results.

There are the basic questions, such as “How are product concepts developed?” possible responses are:

  • On paper only
  • On paper and then transferred to electronic form (2D or 3D)
  • Completed electronically, as a 2D sketch
  • Completed electronically as a 3D surface model (push and pull surface capabilities

This is pretty standard stuff, although the answers look a little odd. Considering that the only 3D related answer is a surface model, it looks a little incomplete. Where’s the potential for an intelligent 3D model? Question 3 in my survey read “How is the aesthetic look and feel of a product assessed?” with the options being:

  • By building/sculpting a physical prototype at the concept stage
  • By building a physical prototype when the design is complete
  • By reviewing a realistically rendered digital model
  • Aesthetic properties are not important in my industry

Fair enough, but you’re only allowed a single option answer. The use of physical and digital models within the product development process is typically mixed. You don’t just build a physical prototype, or use a rendered model most organizations use both. The same was true of almost every question and possible answer. You can’t give a complete answer or indeed, accurate answer, because you might typically use a mix of methods, for visualization, for simulation, for assessing product performance.

So what’s my problem? It’s nothing specific, but take a look at the URL for the assessment survey That gives it all away. Aberdeen has constructed this survey at the behest and I assume, funding from Autodesk. When you complete it, you get a quick bar chart showing how you perform according to your answers and get emailed a link to a fuller report as well as Aberdeen’s other research report (which are worth reading). There are also links to recommended products from Autodesk. Take from that what you will.

The press release has a quote from Stephen Gold, President of Aberdeen, saying that they are “pleased to provide organizations with guidance to improve their product development process. The Assessment Tool Series offers a unique opportunity for organizations to leverage our benchmark research in a highly personalized way.”

Yes, “A unique opportunity to reuse their benchmark research” (which is pretty highly regarded I might add), but as long as you do using limited answers, limited input and using language that suits perfectly the terminology of the endeavor’s sponsors . I don’t have a problem with this , but I wish analysts would be a little more honest about why they do these things. This has very little to do with their research, more to do with Aberdeen tying up with Autodesk to reuse their research methods to point users to Autodesk’s tools - its a sales tool masquerading as a scientific study. If you look at it from that point of view, then its perfectly acceptable and you can get from the results exactly what you want. But let’s not pretend it’s anything else. Analysts have a strange habit of taking what appears to be common sense, wrapping it up with ‘research’ and feeding it back to you and this does nothing to change that perception.

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