CAD Tech News (#78)

18 Jan, 2018 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ Herrera on Hardware: Which CAD Workstation Buyers Can Benefit from Threadripper?

An analysis of AMD's Ryzen Threadripper illustrates why a workstation CPU is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

By Alex Herrera

Ever since AMD disclosed the first hints about its Zen processor architecture, I've been left wondering — and writing — about when AMD might exploit it to make a serious push into the market for workstation CPUs again. In a recent column, I made the case that AMD's window of opportunity is now wide open, supported by not just one but several Zen-derived products that are now well positioned to launch that offensive. Ryzen 7, Ryzen Threadripper, Ryzen Pro, and Epyc are all viable candidates for workstation applications, from entry-level single-socket (1S) models all the way up to max-configured dual-socket (2S) monsters.

Threadripper: More Cores than the Workstation Norm

The last time that AMD mounted a serious challenge to Intel in workstations was in the previous decade, in the form of the Opteron-branded Hammer, a processor that truly disrupted high-performance computing markets for servers and workstations. Launched in 2003, Hammer introduced two key innovations — 64-bit instruction set extensions and direct-attach memory — which allowed Opteron to leapfrog Intel, especially in the dual-socket configurations common in workstations and servers. On the back of Hammer, AMD began taking meaningful share from Intel, peaking in 2006–2008 before fading from a combination of poor execution by AMD and a righting of the ship by Intel.

This time, AMD may follow a similar playbook for its Zen campaign, by focusing on technology and products that OEMs have not emphasized with Intel's Core and Xeon CPUs. Where Hammer innovated in memory architecture and 64-bit extensions, Zen may leverage its aptitude in high-density, multi-core processors.

Cue Threadripper, the first Zen CPU making noise in high-performance client-computing markets, including not just gaming rigs but workstation platforms. Comprising two eight-core Ryzen 7–type dies in a single multichip package (with intra-package interconnect à la its Epyc siblings), Threadripper populates as many as 16 cores — well beyond the typical quad-core CPUs powering the vast majority of workstations CAD professionals buy and use today. In the past few months, several vendors have launched Threadripper workstations, including Boxx, Velocity Micro, Puget Systems, and Maingear. (Boxx has also hinted at a 1S workstation based on Epyc.) Read more »

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

▶ New Technologies, Lower Prices Are Reshaping Metal 3D Printing Market

Software and hardware products on display at formnext conference illustrate the forces making metal a faster, cheaper option.

By Randall Newton

Disruptive innovation may indicate the arrival of a technology that's new to a market. But it can also be defined as a product or service that moves from being accessible to only the high end of a market to being available to the entire market, essentially creating a new market and redefining value. Going by either definition, disruption is alive and well in metal 3D printing. Several new products and trends illustrating this were on display at formnext, Europe's largest trade show for 3D printing. The third annual event was held in November in Frankfurt, Germany.

Improving Support Structure Design

Belgian software developer Materialise started as a 3D printing service bureau, but pivoted to software development to better serve its clients. For years, its e-Stage for Stereolithography has been an industry standard for simplifying the design of support structures needed for successful 3D printing of complicated shapes. At formnext, Materialise introduced a new version of the software product, specifically designed for metal printing.

Materialise e-Stage for Metal automates the process of designing support structures for 3D-printed objects, such as this titanium part. Image courtesy of Materialise.
Materialise e-Stage for Metal automates the process of designing support structures for 3D-printed objects, such as this titanium part. Image courtesy of Materialise.

Materialise claims e-Stage for Metal will decrease support design time by as much as 90% when compared with general-purpose CAD products. The benefits extend into the printing and finishing of parts: Materialise claims support removal time is up to 50% less, and part finishing time can be reduced by as much as 20%. Materialise also says using e-Stage for Metal allows for nearly 100% recapture of metal powder, usually trapped inside the support structures. Read more »

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Randall S. Newton is the managing director of the Consilia Vektor engineering software consulting firm.

▶ Bricsys: We're Not Holding Back on DWG, Part 2

Going head-to-head with AutoCAD, company upgrades general 2D/3D functionality of BricsCAD V18, as well as mechanical and sheet metal offerings.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Belgium-based software developer Bricsys is committing fully to the DWG file format for 2D/3D CAD and building information modeling (BIM) and pitting its flagship BricsCAD directly against AutoCAD, hoping to lure Autodesk customers who are grappling with recent licensing changes. At the Bricsys 2017 conference in Paris this fall, where the company hosted myself and several other members of the CAD media, the company described its DWG-centric software development strategy, outlined updates to BricsCAD V18, and introduced BricsCAD Shape, a free, simple-to-use DWG-based tool for 2D/3D conceptual modeling tool. (See "Bricsys: We're Not Holding Back on DWG, Part 1.") In this installment, I'll detail the general updates found in BricsCAD V18 — as well as those for mechanical and sheet metal design. Part 3 of the series outlines updates to the BIM Module and the Bricsys 24/7 cloud-based solution for construction project collaboration.

BricsCAD — the Basics

Released in November, BricsCAD V18 supports general design, mechanical and sheet metal design, and BIM in one DWG-based product — in fact, BricsCAD is the only system that allows intelligent modeling of both buildings and mechanical assemblies in one system. As I described in Part 1, the company demonstrated an elevator model being updated inside the BIM model of a building. And because BricsCAD enables direct and parametric modeling, users have the freedom to push/pull when desired and mechanically constrain when required. Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is the content director for Longitude Media, publisher of Cadalyst.


CAD Manager Column: Resolve to Prepare with a New Year's CAD Strategy Session
In order to make the best decisions about which CAD changes to respond to — and how — catch your breath after the holidays and plan for the year ahead. Read more »

AutoCAD Video Tips: Import PDF Files as AutoCAD Objects
You asked for it, and you finally got it: The No. 1 item on the AutoCAD Wish List has been granted in AutoCAD 2017. Join Lynn Allen as she shows you how easy it is to bring a PDF file into AutoCAD and convert it to AutoCAD objects (as well as some tricks for doing so). Watch the video »

Siemens Builds Out Industrial Digitalization Support Network
At Innovation Day 2017, Siemens showcases progress toward its goal of equipping enterprises with applications powered by its MindShare Internet of Things technology. Read more »

With 2018 Release, Corel Still Striving to Serve Mac and Mobile CAD Customers
While Windows-based CAD on desktop machines is still the norm, Corel seeks to offer its customers a range of choices — in platforms, devices, and more. Read more »

ONU's Conversion Platform Speeds Models from CAD to Virtual Reality
The newly launched ONU 3DLite converts CAD models to lightweight polygonal meshes for use in virtual and augmented reality experiences, as well as online and mobile applications. Read more »

Cadalyst Verifies Systems Benchmark Test for AutoCAD 2017 and 2018
Cadalyst has verified that the Cadalyst Systems Benchmark C2015 v5.5b, designed to test and compare the performance of systems running AutoCAD, can be used with AutoCAD versions 2000–2018. Test files for C2015 v5.5b are available free for download. Read more »

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