GIS Tech News (#99)

21 Jul, 2010 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Manage Point Clouds in AutoCAD Map 3D

Use new tools to access, stylize, and filter 3D laser scanning and LiDAR data.

By Michael Schlosser

AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 is the latest version of Autodesk's software for creating and managing CAD and spatial data. My favorite features of this release include the new point cloud tools for viewing, querying, and analyzing 3D laser scanning and LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data sets.

LiDAR is a system for collecting topographic information whereby laser-equipped aircraft collect points in three dimensions, creating data sets known as point clouds. These point clouds are then used to locate topographic features, define feature geometries, and create 3D surfaces.


Point clouds often contain hundreds of millions of points and can be difficult to work with using traditional AutoCAD methods. However, the new Point Cloud Manager in AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 is designed to handle large numbers of points and enhances the ability to use these large LiDAR data sets. Plus, with AutoCAD Map 3D we have the additional benefit of being able to assign a geographic coordinate system so that we can use these point clouds in a geographic context with design information and other geospatial data sources.

In this article, I'll explain how to use the new point cloud tools in AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 to access, stylize, and filter a LiDAR point cloud corresponding to a municipal downtown area. I will also show how to use point clouds to first create a 3D surface, and then analyze the results. Read more »
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Michael Schlosser is an Autodesk technical specialist.


First Look Review: ATI FirePro V5800

Mid-range graphics card is economical, energy-efficient, and an excellent choice for AutoCAD users.

By Ron LaFon

AMD recently added several new products to its ATI FirePro series of professional graphics cards, among them the high-end V8800, the entry-level V3800, and the mid-range V5800. Cadalyst Labs opted to test the ATI FirePro V5800 to gauge the performance of this middle-ground option. Those wanting more performance and memory could opt for the V8800, and those desiring a more economical card could go with the V3800. Since AMD's initial announcements, the company also introduced the ATI FirePro V7800 and V4800.

Features and Specifications

The ATI FirePro V5800 features 1 GB of ultra-high-speed GDDR5 memory and a native 30-bit display pipeline in the graphics-processing unit (GPU) to ensure accurate color reproduction and high visual quality in a single-slot graphics card. These characteristics make the V5800 well suited for CAD and digital-content creation (DCC) users who work with medium-to-large models.

The V5800 is based on a new-generation GPU that features ultra-parallel processing architecture to help maximize throughput by directing horsepower wherever needed. This intelligent management enables real-time rendering of complex models and scenes and increasingly greater frame rates for animation. The V5800 has 800 stream processors, one 128-bit memory interface, and a 64.0 GB/second bandwidth. Read more »
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Ron LaFon is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta and a contributing editor for Cadalyst.


Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events


Map Asia 2010 & ISG 2010
July 26–28, 2010
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This year GIS Development and The Institution of Surveyors, Malaysia, are jointly organizing the 9th Annual Asian Conference and Exhibition on Geospatial Information Technology and Applications (Map Asia 2010) and the International Symposium and Exhibition on Geoinformation (ISG 2010) to foster the growth of geospatial sciences. Read more

GeoWeb 2010
July 26–30, 2010
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
This international conference will bring together business and technical professionals from more than 20 countries to discuss new technologies and applications in the GeoWeb. Read more 

Intergraph 2010
August 30–September 2, 2010
Las Vegas, Nevada
Intergraph 2010, the international conference for users of the company's engineering and geospatial software, will feature nearly 200 sessions, keynotes on industry and corporate trends, and structured networking opportunities. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


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