GIS Tech News (#103)

19 Jan, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

FME 2011 Clears Up Point Clouds

Safe updates its spatial data transformation software, adding support for laser-scanning data and cloud-computing formats.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Yesterday, Safe Software launched FME 2011, the latest version of its venerable spatial data transformation platform. The technology, which can transform hundreds of spatial and nonspatial data formats, helps users convert and share data. Safe cofounders Don Murray and Dale Lutz, the company's president and its vice-president of development, explained that that challenge extends beyond keeping up with new formats. "The data volumes that people work with now are so much larger than when we started," said Lutz.

One increasingly common source of such data is laser scanning, which has become both less expensive and more widely known in recent years. The technology can be used for a host of applications, ranging from aerial surveying to collecting as-built architectural data, but the resulting point clouds are often enormous and can create data-management headaches.

Safe originally didn't intend to address point clouds in this release, said Murray, but made the decision to do so after speaking with users at road shows. "We really heard that people are struggling to manage and manipulate point cloud data," he explained.

Lutz explained that Safe didn't anticipate the amount of effort required to make point cloud data interact with other types of data in a reasonable way. "We had to work with [the data] in a more sane way ... in raster, you don't treat every pixel as its own citizen." Murray agreed that point clouds "are just misbehaved rasters, really." Read more »
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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's senior editor.


First Look Review: Xi MTower PCIe

Workstation offers exceptional speed at a moderate price.

By Ron LaFon

It's been a few years since Cadalyst reviewed a workstation from @Xi Computer, so when a new Xi MTower PCIe arrived, I was excited by the opportunity to put it through its paces. As it turned out, this moderately priced desktop workstation set a new performance record in Cadalyst Labs.

Highly Recommended

System Features

The MTower PCIe system I received was based on an Intel Core i7-950 3.0-GHz quad-core processor that was mounted on an Asus P6X58D Premium Intel X58 motherboard that supported both SLI and CrossFireX graphics accelerators. The motherboard had three PCIe 2.0 slots and included two USB 3.0 connectors as well as eight standard USB 2.0 sockets.

The system supported triple-channel DDR3 1600/2000-MHz RAM with 6,144 MB of 1,333-MHz triple rank interleave memory with heat spread, which is available only on Core i7-based motherboards. When fully populated, the motherboard can accommodate 24 GB of 1,333-MHz RAM. Although numerous hard disk options are available, the system I tested included a Seagate Momentus 500-GB 7,200-rpm XT hybrid SATA II drive with 4 GB of SSD memory cache. Due to the nature of these drives, the second and subsequent iterations of a given benchmark test will produce slightly higher scores, which I used for the test results reported below. Read more »
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Ron LaFon is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta and a contributing editor for Cadalyst.



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