the business of cad
Issue #780 | June 18, 2013
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In This Issue
1. What Marketing Gives, Engineering Takes
2. All About the New Russian-developed 3D Kernel
- Part 2
3. Out of the Inbox, and a few other other regular columns.
From the editor: Next week's issue of upFront.eZine will arrive early in your inbox, as I am scheduled to attend Solid Edge University 2013 across the river from Cincinnati Ohio.
This issue sponsored by:
The third North American Revit Technology Conference held at the Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, 11-13 July 2013.
This is your opportunity to learn from some of the world's top instructors and industry experts, to share ideas and insights with an international community of your peers, and explore the latest trends and technologies. The conference provides the perfect environment to cultivate important business and professional contacts that can benefit your company and your career.
What Marketing Gives, Engineering Takes
There's a lot of excitement in the tech media over computers running Intel's latest iteration of its iCore prococessor, code-named Haswell. The biggest bang is an apparently longer battery life, as boasted by companies as diverse as Apple and Samsung: 9+ hours running, one week on standby. Intel did this by aiming for 2x-3x lower power consumption by integrating functions (SoC = system on a chip) and running the CPU at a lower voltage. In the real world, battery life over the long-term is determined by how quickly the battery's cells degrade, unfortunately, and so I find within two years the battery life is cut in half anyhow.
The second point of excitement is over the extreme boost in integrated graphics: double the performance along with 128MB dedicated RAM, dubbed "HD" for the lower end and "Iris" for the upper. Now, I have found that for casual CAD users like myself, Intel's HD 4000 integrated graphics are more than sufficient. And it seems that Intel agrees with me, for it is doubtful your shiney-new Haswell-equipped ultrabook will be running Iris.
Reader Henrik Vallgren writes from Sweden about the problem: "With each new CPU generation, Intel seems to settle for single-digit performance improvements, the graphics core evolves dramatically, almost doubling for each generation. Check out the new R-series of CPUs, which have twice the amount of cores than the rest of the Haswell line. It's like getting the next generation today. Only, it doesn't seem to be available for end users."
Intel produces different levels of Haswell, just as it does with Xeon. The bottom-of-the-line Xeon is not much better than an i7, while the top of the line Xeon CPU (this would be the one with all the computing power) costs $4,500, and so you can't afford it. The top-of-the-line Haswell has Iris Pro 5200 graphics, but you can't even buy it now. In any case, you might not want it, as its CPU runs at a slower clock speed, meaning that faster Haswells don't have the faster graphics. In any case, you can't upgrade your desktop easily, because Haswells use new socket designs and so you'd need to replace the entire motherboard.
Where Haswell really disappoints is in the area of cores. It has only four, with a 12-core CPU not to be released until the end of next year. With a turbo-boost speed of 3.90GHz, the CPU runs no faster than before, leaving arch-rival AMD as the champion in being the first and only to reach 5.0GHz. As Techradar.Pro put it succinctly, Haswell shows that Intel no longer cares about desktop users.
Which is fair. When we look at the sales numbers, ARM is Intel's true arch-rival as we prefer computers we can stick in our pockets and purses over ones that are bolted to the desktop or lugged along like carry-on luggage.
IMSI/Design Releases TurboSite v1.2
Now Supports Video Chat and More
TurboSite™ is the ultimate fieldwork and site visit app. View CAD drawings with your actual position synchronized with or without GPS. Record and document field information using photos, videos, and markup from a simple mobile device, saving you up to 80% of the burden compared to traditional methods. Download Free TurboSite Reader to test virtually all of the functionality of the commercial version of TurboSite.
All About the New Russian-developed 3D Kernel
Part 2: Getting Ready for Application Developments
by Leonid Baranov, Sergey Kozlov, Dmitry Semin, and Nikolay Snytnikov
In developing application systems, particularly for parametric CAD, there is the task of storing references to topological elements -- vertices, edges, faces -- in a stable manner. This is essential in setting parameters of local editing, or the elements involved in geometric constraints. RGK's geometric kernel has a stable identification and storage mechanism of topological elements based on specially-generated keys. This mechanism allows programmers to halt searches of geometric parameters that become inconvenient after local modifications are made.
Working with System and User Attributes. To store additional information related to topological elements of a model, a mechanism of typified attributes, which are stored and copied together with a body is used. Apart from topological elements, attributes can be stored in session and in user identifiers.
Detailed Error Diagnostics. The results of functions are returned as error codes. Detailed information about problems is recorded in a report on functions and performance. To assist centralized monitoring of errors, the kernel has a user class, a monitor, that gives detailed descriptions of errors. It is especially convenient for debugging applications.
The kernel has powerful tools for verification of body correctness. Such verification is necessary for imported models or models obtained by users through low-level editing facilities, such as manual modification topology.
Rollback Operation. "Generator" classes are the main means of controlling and editing models. The result of executing them is the modified geometry and topology of bodies. If an error occurs in the generator (such as because of incorrect output), the state of the model becomes indefinite or incorrect. In this case, the geometric kernel performs an undo operation to the initial generator state; this ensures the correctness of the model and avoids the cost for permanent model copying by the application developer.
Universal Platform-Independent Data Format. To store 3D model data, we developed our own exchange format. It is an XML-document, and data can be stored in standalone files, as well as be part of application data. The choice of the XML data structure was determined by its advantages in being a universal data format, having platform independence, being easy to scale, and is open. The format is used also for debugging purposes by recording sequences of calls made to kernel functions.
Quality Assurance and Test Infrastructure. As a 3D geometric kernel, the complex software has strict quality requirements. We reached the following quality assurance goals in developing and designing the kernel's architecture:
Next in part 3: A full set of tools for geometric modeling
[This article is an abridged version of the original, which appears on Russia's isicad.net at http://isicad.net/articles.php?article_num=16135. The Russian was translated into English by Olga Lukashenko.]
Out of the Inbox
Susan Smith of AECcafe reports on a new AEC software from Precient for designing and building multi-unit structures with robotic welding. http://www.prescientco.com
Scott Wertel gives the MCAD world its first peek at Solid Edge ST 6: reflective display mode and dimension auto-arrange are two of the new functions to be unveiled June 25 at SE University. http://www.engineering.com/DesignSoftware/DesignSoftwareArticles/ArticleID/5807/First-Peek-into-Solid-Edge-ST6.aspx
Luxion links up with GrabCAD (no relation to me) so that 3D models can be rendered by KeyShot. The process works in reverse: starting in KeyShot, selecting Plugins prompts the user to log into their GrabCAD account online, KeyShot grabs the model, renders it, and gives the user the option to upload the rendering to GrabCAD. http://www.keyshot.com/keyshot-grabcad-integration
SmartCAM goes to a schedule release cycle that consists of a major release each year in the fourth quarter, along with maintenance releases as required the rest of the year. Version numbering is changing from V18.7 to 2014 (this year's release). http://www.SmartCAMcnc.com
On the Blog
Here are items that appeared recently on our WorldCAD Access blog at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com:
"If you store your customer data, the government's going to come and ask for it later."
- Chris Soghoian, senior policy analyst, American Civil Liberties Union
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Entire contents copyright 2013 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $840. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.