Posts by Stephen Holmes

Take to the polls: CAD by numbers

Published 18 October 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with:

How many CAD programs are you running? (Elmo can’t work CAD - he’s as dumb as a bag of spanners)

Having stumbled into Monday once again we thought we’d liven proceedings a little with a little click-box polling - but first; the results from last week’s poll digested.

We shipped over the figures to our editor in chief Al Dean, who hastily analyzed the percentages in an airport somewhere in India to come up with the following conclusion:

“I was curious about this one because back when we ran MCAD magazine, we did a bit of research to find out how and why people were using rendering technology.

“One of the key indicators for me was how users were outputting their images - what was the selection criteria for the resolution.

“Back in 2007, the results indicated that 23% of users were outputting to screen resolution, with a further 24% outputting up to 2,000 pixels wide.

“That’s shifted in favour of higher resolution images, with the majority now outputting 3,000 pixels. Bear in mind that screen resolutions have changes dramatically since, with HD monitors becoming the norm for many.”

So there you have it - the more pixels the better in this modern world.

But this week we’re interested in just how many CAD programs you work with on a daily basis? Do you have a one-stop program that has all the bells and whistles you need, or a plethora of packages that you dip in and out of for whatever reasons?

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and questions on the comments section below.

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Your tech designs to save the world? Sony think so

Published 15 October 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

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Sony, in collaboration with the WWF (no wrestling involved) and IDEO, has launched its Open Planet Ideas project: an online platform that challenges members of the public to imagine how current technologies could be repurposed to tackle environmental problems.

A collaborative project whereby the ideas put forward are there to be built upon and evolved by the community, everyone is invited to participate and contribute.

Getting involved can range from simply applauding other people’s concepts to taking them and refining the design further or even contributing a totally new concept.

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Take to the polls: Rendering

Published 11 October 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

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The D3D Poll returns this week to look at your rendering needs, wants and desires (ok, maybe not desires).

We’re looking to see if size matters to you and your clients - a simple screen grab, or a monster 5,000 pixels plus?

Also, if you’re feeling perky this week, leave us a comment about what render tools you’re using, what’s lighting up your virtual worlds, or any questions you have about getting the best from your renders.

As for our last poll (admittedly a couple of weeks ago now) regarding your hardware bottlenecks, here’s what our workstation expert Greg Corke had to make of the percentages:

“Last week’s poll was all about workstation hardware and bottlenecks and identifying where your slowdowns are. Evidently we screwed up a bit by not giving an option for the ‘human bottleneck’ - better known by some as being distracted by phone calls, blogs, coffee, Facebook and, we were rather flattered to learn, DEVELOP3D.

“Back on the topic of computer hardware there was no runaway winner in our bottleneck face off. Yes, CPU came out top, but this was closely followed closely by a smorgasbord of graphics, memory, network and hard drive. This backs up what we regularly hear from readers that bottlenecks occur is all sorts of places – changing from application to application and dataset to dataset.

“Some admitted to having a bottleneck but not knowing where it was, and this is a more common problem than some may realize. For example you may suffer from poor frame rates when moving your 3D models about on screen, but because of the way some CAD software works your bottleneck may actually be down to an underpowered CPU, rather than a poorly specced graphics card.

“Interestingly there were a few comments about the memory limitations of 32-bit Windows where adding additional memory does nothing to ease the bottleneck. We’d be interested to learn what’s stopping the move to a 64-bit OS. Is it cost, lack of approval by IT, lack of support by 3D apps or simply no time to make the step?

“There were also complaints about the network and painfully slow PLM systems. Do you think IT departments do enough to keep centrally managed resources running at top speed. A little bit more thought or investment here could do wonders for productivty.

“Finally, as I write this now on my cutting edge workstation, I’m painfully aware that I actually miss bottlenecks. Back in the early nineties when I ran AutoCAD R12 on a 386 it took 15 mins to regen a 400k drawing. A cast-iron excuse for a cup of tea and a chinwag, if ever I heard one.”

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Cut&Paste: Get involved - We are!

Published 27 September 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: cut&paste;

Step up and show your talents people, Cut&Paste, the digital design tournament is on the hunt for entrants to this year’s competition.

Rolling into London town on 11 November, this is your chance to get up on stage and compete with the best of British designers.

To enter yourself into the rock and roll lineup (and we think you should!) check out the sign-up page here.

DEVELOP3D are getting involved this year: not only are we sponsors for the shindig, but we’ll be helping judge on the night, and providing a super special guest to take to the stage in Show&Tell - an insightful how-to with some of the brightest minds in the design community.

We’ll be providing full coverage of the event on the night, but until then we want you to get involved in some of this.

Take a look at

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Take to the polls: Jobs

Published 20 September 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: jobs, polls

This week’s question is all about what you look for in a job

Following the success of last week’s poll, we took a little time to analyse the results, locking away D3D’s editor in chief with the stats - here’s what he had to say:

“The results are in from our first weekly poll and we got a good response, enough to show that there’s some interesting results and conclusions to be drawn.

The first is that the D3D audience is one of early adopters, with a 38% jumping on a new release of their workhorse software on the first release. Add in the fact that another 26% of users will get on board after the first service pack is released.

For me, the third place in any poll is always interesting as you can usually guess the first two. In third place are those that wait until the third party applications are ready.

This is something that’s come up in recent months as a constant source of criticism from some users - the delay between a major software release, the development team releasing the updated API (Application Programming Interface - on which third party vendor’s rely) and the third party development community being able to update, test and ship their products for that new release.

Some vendors wait a whole 6 months before getting the API code out to the partner community and that’s clearly causing something of a sticking point. Finally, its interesting that the number of users that upgrade both when their clients do so or their IT department approve it is telling.

So, further questions I wonder about are these, particularly relating to the third party add-on world. Are those mission critical applications that you’re waiting on, are they CAM solutions, data management solutions or more specialised tools? Also, how do you know when your clients have upgraded? Is a diktat sent out or is it more informal?”

Feel free to leave your comments below.

But now for some more Monday morning clickable democracy with our question for this week:

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Take to the polls: Your chance to answer

Published 13 September 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with:

Readers of DEVELOP3D take to the polls

Amidst the Monday morning drudgery here at we are giving you the chance to get motivated with the opportunity for you to cast your opinion on a head-scratching debate with our all new Poll of the Week.

As you fill your fifth cup of coffee; curse the start of the working week, and solicit explanations from your co-colleagues as to how you woke up after post-work Friday drinks in an old lady’s front garden, here you have the chance to do something productive for the benefit of your fellow designers and engineers.

All the totals will be collated and scrutinised on Friday’s blog - so return then to see if you’re amongst the masses, or striving out there as an intellectual pioneer/dumbwit [delete as applicable].

So, today’s question is:

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Siggraph 2010 #2: GPU, CPU, HPU. Who cares?

Published 29 July 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: gpu, cpu, ray tracing

At Siggraph 2010, a not-so-subtle battle is taking place.  It’s the battle of the graphics computing future.  Depending on whom you listen to, the path to graphics performance nirvana is paved by graphics processing units (GPUs), central processing units (CPUs) or a combination of the two called heterogeneous processing units (HPUs) by analyst Jon Peddie.

At Peddie’s annual luncheon on Wednesday, the graphics processing future was discussed by a panel of high-ranking technologists, some with vested interest in which acronym comes out on top:

Eric Demers, GPG CTO of AMD
Brian Harrison, CTO of SolidWorks Labs
Rolf Herken, CEO & CTO of mental images
Bill Mark, Senior Research Scientist for Intel
Paul Stallings, VP of Software Development for Kubotek

Cheaper and faster

The principal area of interest for designers and engineers, of course, is how high-end rendering can improve their work, now and in the future.

Prices for heterogeneous computing are dropping dramatically, according to Peddie, giving more designers and engineers access to capabilities such as real-time ray tracing on lower-cost workstations.  More bandwidth, better compression and optimized software are making it more feasible to work with computer graphics via the cloud, whether over a company intranet or public internet.

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