AMD Workstation Graphics Accelerators Boost Real-time Performance of Large Assemblies

TECHNOLOGY UPDATE

AMD Workstation Graphics Accelerators Boost Real-time Performance of Large Assemblies

Dassault Systèmes PLM users on CATIA V5 Release 18 SP4 or newer can now increase the real-time performance of large assemblies with the ATI FireGL™ and the new ATI FirePro™ workstation graphics accelerators from AMD. New feature sets and drivers, now available in CATIA and AMD workstation graphics accelerators, speed processing time by as much as 500 percent and make it possible to load larger models faster than ever before.

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The key lies in turning on the special features of new releases of CATIA V5, coupled with the power of the ATI FireGL and the new ATI FirePro workstation graphics accelerators, to move raw geometry processing power from the CPU to the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Once data is loaded and stored on these AMD workstation graphics accelerators, it can be processed there locally, eliminating the need to move data back and forth as the geometry changes. This not only helps save time, but also frees up workstation resources such as system memory.

New features and drivers boost CATIA performance
Dassault Systèmes, working with AMD, leveraged the new technologies introduced with OpenGL 2.1 to develop an innovative  graphics implementation that streamlines the pipeline between the CATIA application and the GPU. An oversized frame buffer on the graphics card enables better user productivity while allowing users to work with larger models and data sets, especially when using shading, textures and real-time photorealistic rendering.

Taking advantage of these technology improvements in CATIA requires V5R18 SP4 or better, plus a professional graphics card that supports OpenGL 2.1. All of AMD's ATI FireGL and ATI FirePro workstation graphics accelerators introduced in the past two years meet this requirement.

If your system meets the requirements outlined above, you can enable these technologies with no additional hardware investment. For support in how to access this technology in your qualifying Dassault Systemes/AMD environment, please click on the following link: http://ati.amd.com/products/tools.html ; or contact AMD, Dassault Systèmes or your DS value-added reseller.

Experience the difference at http://ati.amd.com/products/workstation/VBO_audio/with_audio_controller.swf . For more information, visit http://ati.amd.com/products/workstation/catia.html .


Cubix Launches Blade Workstation Designed for Ultra-High Performance 3D CAD, MCAD, GIS Graphics

Cubix Corporation has begun shipping its secure, high-performance blade workstation / virtual PC solutions for 3D CAD/MCAD, CAE and 3D GIS customers who need to provide their users with high-performance 3D graphics processing, but also need to meet corporate CIO/CTO directives for virtual PCs, thin-clients, and other green technology initiatives. Cubix's Secure Visualization Blade technology has the centralized application and hardware management benefits of virtual PC technology, but without the graphics performance penalties and limited display support associated with thin-client, PC-over-IP, and virtual PC deployments.

Providing absolutely transparent performance when compared with equivalent tower PC workstation configurations, Cubix Secure Visualization Blades enable 3D CAD / MCAD operators to significantly reduce PC footprint, noise, and heat issues for both commercial and government 3D graphics markets. Cubix achieved its goal of providing 3D graphics professionals with a superior-performance alternative to competing thin-client / blade workstation solutions, by developing a high-bandwidth interface link between host blade PC and the remote operator's desktop.

 

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“Instead of processing KVM signals into rigid IP packets, or using hi-loss compression algorithms, Cubix decided to use fiber optics to connect the remote 3D graphics operators to their dedicated blade PC”, says Eric Carlson, Cubix Business Development Manager. Cubix SVB clients, called LaserCubes, are designed for use up to 300 meters distant from the blade motherboard.

“By utilizing fiber optic's exceptional bandwidth, Cubix can integrate discrete, high-performance NVIDIA or ATI graphics cards, including the latest full-length, double-wide ATI FireGL and NVIDIA Quadro FX products, into the remote LaserCube “thin” client, without need for an additional CPU, or use of a low-powered mobile GPU or IGP at the client.”

The result, according to Carlson, is a secure, high-performance PC workstation experience for the 3D CAD / MCAD operator where high resolution graphics performance at the remote desktop can exceed 200 frames per second.

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“Cubix can demonstrate greater performance at the remote client than what virtual PC, thin-client, or PC-over-IP vendors claim to achieve in their product brochures”, adds Carlson. “The higher the resolution or frame rate requirement, the more startling and apparent the performance differences are between Cubix and the competition.”

“There are no long coffee breaks waiting for screen paints.  There is no latency, mouse ghosting, or signal attenuation issues. There is no loss of accuracy with design data since Cubix's technology processes uncompressed 3D graphics images at the operator's desktop. The user will not get a blue screen of death when they want to spin a 3D object. Fiber's huge bandwidth enables Cubix to build workstation solutions that greatly enhance the CAD technician's productivity, reduce general overhead expenses and support costs – and we can do it at a price that is cost-competitive with blade computing/thin-client solutions.”

One of the rarely discussed issues involved in deploying virtual PC, PC-over-IP, or blade workstation solutions utilizing proprietary thin-client protocols is managing the client access licenses, or CALs. “Since SVB is a 100% hardware-based solution,   you purchase one Microsoft Windows XP/Vista license, or Linux OS license per Cubix LaserBlade (the Cubix motherboard component), which we'll integrate at the factory for the customer.  That's it – no annual license renewal or maintenance fees, and no worries about having enough OS licenses, CALs, or other OS licensing-related issues.”

He adds, “Furthermore, Cubix SVB runs literally any application that the graphics adapter and Intel-compatible motherboard will run. We don't have to write special drivers for customers accessing legacy applications or the latest versions of their 3D CAD software. Cubix can integrate a consumer-grade product or discrete workstation graphics cards into the LaserCube remote client in order to support whatever file size, number of displays, and resolution the customer's application requires.”

According to Carlson, Cubix SVB has been traditionally in government classified and unclassed networks for Command Center, NOC, and SCIF applications where security is of primary importance. “Proprietary encryption is not required of SVB since what goes across the native fiber link are bus-management signals. If the cable is compromised in any way, and the link between LaserCube and LaserBlade is terminated, causing an automatic hard reset of the LaserBlade.

“With the release of its next-generation SVB technology and support for PCI Express x 16 adapters, Cubix sees a huge market opportunity in a variety of commercial and government 3D graphics markets. “We're delivering a solution which meets the performance specs and I/O compatibility requirements of engineers and CAD technicians, while maintaining compatibility with the IT Department's virtual PC and corporate-driven green initiatives.”

The blade portion of the SVB, called LaserBlade, ships with the latest Intel chipsets, and motherboards featuring Core 2 Quad, Core i7, and Quad Core Xeon processors. PCIe, PCI-X, and PCI expansion slots are available options for use with industry-standard I/O controllers. The entire system can be remotely managed with a single CubixVision remote manager.


CATIA V5 NC Post Processing

Bryan Felsher, True Precision

As a CNC programming Services Bureau, how to post-process aptsource code for our nearly 30 customers (and growing!) was an issue that was daunting, to say the least! With so many different options, we had to decide what was best for us.

Most shops only need to support the machines within their vicinity. However, we must provide code for hundreds of machines- and even the same machine at two different customers, may require code that is quite different, depending on custom configurations.

Narrowing it down to two options gave us this: 1) Purchase post-processor generator software and create our own posts from scratch or from supplied “templates”. 2) Purchase individual executable post-processors customized for a single machine, maintained by an outside post-processing service.

From the beginning, we expected a need to support many machines, and foresaw the amount of machines going into the hundreds. Time proved we were right. However, with a massive load of NC programs to write, how were we ever going to find the time to master the complex coding languages required to create our own post-processors, and what would we do when we ran into situations where we just didn't have to skills required? What if a customer had a part on a machine ready to go, and the post we wrote was wrong? This scared us!

What about the idea of purchasing individual executables one at a time as we needed them? This solved the problem of time and support, but how expensive could it get?  A post-processor builder costs from $6,000 to $18,000 based on our quotes. Individual custom post-processors cost from $1,500 to $5,000 depending on the number of machine axes. Doing the math, it surely seems not to be very cost effective!

So, as the reader can see, this gave us quite a dilemma! That's when we heard about NC Data Services and their benchmark post-processor solution, AZPost. Is it possible to have the perfect compromise between a general post-processor builder AND a customized executable? And to include support for the post until it is working to our exact specifications? All we could say was “Tell us more!”  

Here's how it works: An AZPost-processor is delivered as a stand-alone executable post-processor for a specific machine. A standard Catia pptable will work for all AZPost-processors. A configuration file is provided with the executable that is tailored to the exact machine the customer requests. The G-code will come out perfect for that machine. In fact, I have never, ever seen a single post-processor that properly handled Catia 3D circular interpolation with dual-rotary machines, nor have I ever seen another post-processor that gives “what you see is what you get” on any type of axial Cycle!

The configuration file can be duplicated and modified as many times as the customer wishes for any machine in the world that has a similar configuration. So, an AZPost for a 5-axis A/B head machine with B primary could be configured for ANY similarly configured machine as many times as the customer wishes. Decimal formats, tool change macro's, start-end blocks, etc. are all configurable with standard English Language in the configuration file. There is no difficult programming code to learn, and the documentation is excellent. For example, I bought one 5-axis A/B head machine with B axis primary and with it, I have posted for SNK PC-60's, PC-120's with gage length, Fanuc controls with 5-axis tool-length compensation, and Cincinnati machines with Acramatic controls. The list could be extended indefinitely.

The bottom line is I don't have to buy ONE post-processor for ONE machine. I just have to buy ONE executable for each “style” of machine, and with it, I can configure as many times as I want for as many machines as I want. And…it's simple to do!

Oh- and for those that are wondering, how does one post the aptsource file? Simple. Right click on the aptsource and click “Post.” It will automatically grab the correct executable as well as the correct configuration file based on a simple machine statement. Or, a batch file is provided so one can post the NC code directly from within Catia by clicking an icon. Seamless integration.

This turned out to be the perfect solution for me. I didn't need a hundred post-processors for a hundred machines. I got something that worked perfect from the start, with all the special APT words I wanted, and with great documentation. And the price was lower than any custom post I had quoted- and those posts would only work for a single machine!

True Precision is a CNC Programming Services Bureau supporting Military/Defense and Aerospace manufacturing across North America with 15 plus years of experience in the development of CAD/CAM/CNC programming. They can be reached through their website at www.trueprecisioncnc.com .

NCData Services is a manufacturing services and consulting company with 30 plus years of experience in the development and implementation of CAD/CAM systems specializing in the application of CAD/CAM/CAE systems to machining technology, manufacturing software migration, manufacturing processes, and CNC machine tool post processor development services. They can be reached at www.ncdataservices.com .


RAND Worldwide Launches FT&A Extraction And First Article Inspection Utility Application

RAND Worldwide announced the launch of its FT&A Extraction and First Article Inspection Utility Application.

Designed for companies who routinely deal with Functional Tolerance and Annotation data embedded in CATIA V5 Parts or Products, FT&A Extraction and First Article Inspection Utility has been created to make the design to manufacturing process much more efficient.

The product can be worked on both CATIA V5 Parts and Assemblies and can be configured to support user's data requirements. Extract notes are stored as Parameters inside the FT&A model and annotations are automatically extracted from FT&A captures. The product features a host of automated processes such as First Article Inspection documentation generated in Microsoft Word/Excel format, DMU review data creation and the extraction of FT&A captures as images.

“At RAND Worldwide we develop the tools necessary to assist our clients maximize the full power of their PLM infrastructure,” said Joe Oswald, Executive Vice-President, PLM Operations North America and Europe, RAND Worldwide. “Our FT&A Extraction and First Article Inspection Utility allow our engineers to operate their tools the way they work and with automation to be extremely efficient.”

The application includes a license for VB.NET application of FT&A and First Article Inspection Utility, simple installation and licensing procedure and up to one day of configuration.

To learn more about RAND Worldwide's FT&A Extraction and First Article Inspection Utility Application, please visit http://www.randservices.com/ .

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