CAD Tech News (#36)

3 Mar, 2016 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ Who Needs a Mobile Workstation?

With today's portable powerhouses, everyone can take their CAD show on the road. But just because you can make that investment, doesn't necessarily mean you should.

By Randall S. Newton

It took a few years — and several generations of improvements in central processing units (CPUs) — but today we have mobile workstations that provide the power and fine-tuned performance of desk-side workstations, in a truly portable package. Today's mobile workstations also offer a wide variety of options, allowing buyers to mix and match features and capabilities to find the product that best fits their needs.

In a future article, I'll describe in more detail what distinguishes PCs from workstations in today's market; here, I'll focus instead on who needs a mobile workstation — and who doesn't.

Let Workflow Demands Dictate Hardware Selections

Not every CAD user whose work takes him or her outside the office needs a mobile workstation. For the user who only needs connectivity and office applications, any business-class notebook computer will do. If there is a need for review and markup functionality, then a business-class notebook with plenty of RAM (8 GB or more), a discrete graphics processing unit (GPU), and a faster CPU (an Intel Core i5 or better) is enough. A mobile workstation should be considered for users who need to design or edit designs remotely. Complex visualizations created for client review will also benefit from the power of a mobile workstation, if you use real-time rendering.

In addition, the ability to take a mobile workstation to a job site or client office can yield a significant competitive advantage. Many engineers, architects, and designers are trapped in a segmented, and often circular, workflow like this:

  1. Perform initial work in office
  2. Leave office to get client feedback
  3. Return to office to edit
  4. Go back to the client to present the edited work.

Read more »

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Randall S. Newton is an independent engineering software industry analyst and journalist.

▶ Herrera on Hardware: New Computing Solutions for CAD Take Fuller Advantage of the Cloud

New tools are needed for efficient CAD collaboration, and the cloud — from workspaces to hosted workstations — is looking like the best place to find them.

By Alex Herrera

The computing landscape is changing as fast as it ever has, particularly when it comes to options for supporting graphics-intensive CAD. For years, IT and procurement managers followed the same standard procedure, outfitting each designer or engineer with a deskside workstation (and perhaps a mobile model for the road).

But that approach is no longer the only one to follow. The option to host graphics-intensive applications on remote virtualized servers is now a reality, and many are heeding the call to leverage the cloud to solve thorny IT problems imposed by an explosion of data, physically dispersed workforces, and an increasing emphasis on security and access anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Leveraging the Cloud to Share Workspaces

More than a few vendors are staking claims with cloud-based solutions for CAD. Some are already established in the space, and have familiar names — such as Autodesk. Also entering the fray are smaller players, with names you don't know yet … but you may very well soon. To date, most solutions leveraging the cloud have focused on sharing a workspace for project models and data.

It's not difficult to see why a singular, shared workspace is attracting so much interest: 24/7 access from wherever you want, tapping a secure (or at least securable) database. With a centralized computing model, users don't have to be in their offices — or even on the same continent. By storing models in one place and avoiding costly copying, these solutions render the "big data" problem far less burdensome. And since the source content doesn't leave the pre-defined cloud boundaries, it's far more secure. Upload files to one central, shareable, cloud-based repository. The repository becomes a virtual workspace, where project members can contribute, review, and even mark up and edit others' content. Read more »

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Alex Herrera is a consultant focusing on high-performance graphics and workstations.

▶ Femap Tips and Tricks: Multiple Output Vector Display in Femap

Display multiple results vectors in a single display for different element types.

By Alastair Robertson

With results processing in Femap finite element analysis (FEA) software, it's possible to show results on two additional output vectors simultaneously in the same plot. So for example, you can create a criteria plot comprising solid, shell, and beam elements, and select the results quantity to show on each element type independently. You can also show results on different types of elements with the same topology — such as beams, bars, and rods — at the same time.

In a Femap model that contains solid, shell, and beam elements, click the Post Data icon (or click on View / Select in the menu, and click the Deformed and Contour Data… button) to open the Select PostProcessing Data dialog box. Read more »

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Alastair Robertson is the product marketing manager for Siemens PLM Software Velocity Series CAE solutions, including Femap with NX Nastran and Solid Edge Simulation.


IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Automatic Wire Sequencing in AutoCAD Electrical
Manually creating a report to designate the exact sequence for connecting wires and pins takes extra time, which is always in short supply. Fortunately, AutoCAD Electrical software can perform these tasks automatically. Read more »

District Court Awards Judgment to ITC in Case Against Suzhou Gstarsoft
The IntelliCAD Technology Consortium (ITC) reported that it has been awarded a $273,892.14 judgment against former ITC member Suzhou Gstarsoft, the developer of GstarCAD, in a lawsuit ITC filed last year. Read more »

CAD Manager Column: How CAD Managers Can Work Effectively with the IT Department
If you strive to understand and educate your company's IT personnel instead of butting heads, everyone will benefit. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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