CADfidential1 Dec, 2006 By: Sara Ferris
Behind the Scenes in the World of CAD
Free Apps Flourish
UGS reports that more than 10,000 users have downloaded its free Solid Edge 2D Design program, which was released in September. Not to be outdone in the giving department, think3 released a 2D-only program called free2design. Targeted at the China market, this application also hit the 10,000-download mark within a month. No surprise, then, that Aberdeen Group found that 60% of 320 manufacturers surveyed agreed that 2D is a commodity, and nearly half will consider replacing their current 2D tools with a free one.
CAD Companies Post Gains, Losses
Punch It Up
Punch! Software acquired software developer CSI (CADSoft Solutions Inc.) to extend its reach into professional CAD markets. Punch! Software develops retail home design and landscaping software, including Architectural Series 3000. CSI's product line is geared toward conceptual mechanical design. It includes Concepts Unlimited, Concepts 3D and Concepts 2D. The products run on both Windows and Mac OS X.
NVIDIA released updated versions of its free performance drivers for 3ds Max 9 (MAXtreme 9 D3D) and AutoCAD 2007 (POWERdraft 2007). NVIDIA reports that PowerDRAFT 2007 delivers a 22% improvement over standard application drivers when running the Cadalyst 2006 benchmark test. Alas, Powerdraft is not supported on the various Desktop flavors of AutoCAD.
Four on the Floor
Intel launched two quad-core processors: the Xeon 5300 for servers and the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 for workstations. Some vendors, including HP, Dell, Boxx and Alienware, added the quad option to their workstation lines. Those running multiple applications at once will benefit from being able to share the load among four cores. Interestingly, when only one application is running, the new Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor won't match the performance of Intel's fastest dual-core chips because its top clock speed is 2.66GHz, compared with 2.93GHz for the Core 2 Extreme x6800.
3D XML Extractor
Dassault Systemes unveiled a free tool to save models in 3D XML format from any OpenGL application. It works essentially as a 3D screen grab, capturing visible geometry and textures only. 3D XML is Dassault's entry in the lightweight 3D data-sharing-format horse race.
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The Shape of Things
Shape search is shaping up—Geometric Software released an add-on that lets users search SolidWorks files for parts according to shape. A free version finds files that resemble a selected model and searches all SolidWorks attributes. A paid version adds additional features such as finding duplicates, browsing similar parts in a cluster view and identifying differences in geometry between two models.