CAD Tech News (#73)

4 Oct, 2017 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ NVIDIA's Long Game:
The Evolution from GPU Maker to AI Computing Company, Part 2

Tony Paikeday explains where NVIDIA is taking graphics processing units (GPUs), and where artificial intelligence (AI) will take CAD users.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Editor's note: Click here to readNVIDIA's Long Game Takes GPU from Graphics Workhorse to AI Powerhouse, Part 1.

NVIDIA is on a mission to democratize how AI is used, said Tony Paikeday, NVIDIA's director of product marketing for Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. "[The development of DGX supercomputers] is one of the ways we created that democratization effect that's part of this NVIDIA transformation. We wanted to be able to take supercomputing power — literally the power of 800 CPUs — and put it in a form factor that a customer could put in their data center, to train their mission-critical AI."

To serve a similar purpose — democratizing how AI is used — but in a smaller package than the DGX supercomputers, the company recently began rolling out offerings based on the Volta GPU architecture that now powers DGX. (Although the Tesla V100 GPU is designed for data center use, Volta-based GPUs suited to designers’ workstations will follow.) NVIDIA says that Volta is designed to "deliver the performance of an AI supercomputer in a GPU” and “bring AI to every industry."

Bringing these plans to fruition has not been cheap. NVIDIA is making a "significant" R&D investment on an ongoing basis, with a budget to the tune of $2.5 billion, according to Paikeday. The development of Volta alone required about $1 billion. "That level of investment is unprecedented," he commented. As far as NVIDIA's concerned, however, it's necessary, however, since the company is investing deeply in not only development and manufacture of hardware, but also in the software side.

"It's been interesting to note in the last couple of years, the trajectory of AI and what it's done for us that kind of justifies the investment," said Paikeday. "Like, deep neural networks have been growing; neural network development has been more and more computationally expensive as these networks get smarter, and by consequence bigger ... [it's the] GPU that's allowed these models to get so big, so extensive, so computationally expensive, because we're now providing the compute capacity to execute these massively parallelized algorithms that power the biggest neural networks that there are today, with speed that really wasn't possible until developers way back when started training their models on GPUs instead of CPU servers."

Human–Machine Design Partnerships

Paikeday sees an impact of GPU-powered computing on designers' work that's similar to its impact on deep neural networks. "Because of the economics introduced by systems like DGX, or like the power of the GPU that we've unleashed on AI, designers now can have machine learning–based platforms where they just feed the essential criteria under which a product has to be designed with certain constraints that have to be observed, like dimensions or weight or materials or cost or mechanical performance, and they can now iteratively create options that they can evaluate and select from," he said. "Generative design is one of those exciting new areas where you're starting to see machine learning get solutionized in a way that can help CAD professionals."

The ideal is to make better use of designers by taking tedious tasks off of human shoulders: "We see now a really nice confluence of humans and AI working together, if you will, in the design process. People can now optimize and develop larger, more complex models, as mundane and smaller design problems get addressed by AI." Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is the editor in chief of Cadalyst.

▶ Dassault Systèmes Promotes End-to-End Model-Based Design with SOLIDWORKS 2018

Latest version of the 3D design and engineering software portfolio keeps the focus on the complete design-to-manufacturing process, and pursues a future of further integration and automation in design.

By Cadalyst Staff

The 5.1 million users of Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS are "very demanding, with us and with themselves," said SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi at a launch event for the 3D design and engineering software portfolio. Being responsive to its customers' requirements is one of the company's values, Bassi asserted; another is to be responsive to a changing world that's "being profoundly affected by the age of artificial intelligence," and is increasingly shaped by "unprecedented human–machine interactions," including those that fall under the Internet of Things umbrella.


SOLIDWORKS also seeks to be responsible toward society, said Bassi, who defined being responsible as "the awareness that the technology is a transformative force in our society, and we are responsible because we want to provide access to as many people as possible to knowledge and tools to make innovation possible. We are after what we call, democratization of innovation." The empowerment of invention and its life-changing fruits — from modular emergency housing to robotic human augmentation — supports the goals of a more sustainable world, better use of resources, and improved human lives, Bassi believes.

The Future of Design: Integration and Automation

But how will design software evolve to help us reach these goals? Bassi described the company's vision for more integration and automation: "Design is, and will be more so in the future, the integration of multiple disciplines. Why? Because we want to reduce to zero the distance between the digital representation of your ideas and they physical realization." As for automation, he said, it "is truly at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution — it's happening as we speak." Bassi categorized automation into three "flavors":

  • Assistive automation can help people perform tasks more quickly and easily, such as creating an assembly from components used in a previous design. "This is what machine learning can do: it can analyze your patterns, and suggest easier and faster ways to do things ... we are working to make this happen."
  • Augmented intelligence is SOLIDWORKS' name for technology that "can help people make better decisions, free themselves from the burden of creating the right geometry, asking the computer to augment the design," said Bassi. For example, software may suggest a shape for a particular part based on forces and constraints set by the user.
  • Autonomous systems can take on tedious design tasks, freeing up humans for more challenging assignments. "People don't want to waste their time in things that [are easy] to make; they want to do what they do best, which is innovate."

Read more »


Autodesk Presents Product Design & Manufacturing Collection Tour
A live webinar hosted by Cadalyst and sponsored by Autodesk will feature Autodesk product marketing manager Jim Byrne and senior technical marketing specialist Jay Tedeschi giving a guided tour of the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection. Topics will include:

  • A firsthand overview of the collection, including the new Autodesk Nastran In-CAD and Autodesk Inventor HSM
  • Tips on how to get the most out of new features and enhancements
  • Ideas for improving your design quality and streamlining your workflow.

The webinar will be held October 11, 2017, at 2:00 PM ET. Register today »

CAD Manager Column: Master the Details to Manage CAD Project Deadlines Smoothly
To minimize delays and unpleasant surprises, ask lots of questions — and plan backward. Read more »

Sponsored: CAD Manager's Guide to the AutoCAD–MicroStation Transition
Get a realistic perspective of what's involved in the move, the resources and support available to ease the process, and how MicroStation can actually make your job easier in the long run. Read more »

AutoCAD Video Tips: Snap to Hatch Patterns and Extension Lines
If you've ever grabbed the endpoint of an extension line rather than the intended object, or wished you could grab the individual objects in a crosshatch pattern, then this tip is for you! Join Lynn Allen as she shows you how to manage the object snap behavior as it relates to hatch patterns and and extension lines in AutoCAD. Watch the video »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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