MCAD Tech News (#358)

13 Mar, 2014 By: Cadalyst Staff

Three Ways to Get the Most Out of Your CAD Workstation

Hardware configuration may not be a top-of-mind concern, but making educated choices when you choose your next workstation can substantially improve your productivity.

By Thomas A. Salomone

For CAD professionals, productivity is fundamental to the success of the business. Your company's ability to generate revenue is dependent upon delivering design work in a timely manner, and you simply can't afford to be hindered by underperforming applications. As a result, you need to not only find the best-performing technology to run your applications, but also ensure the hardware is optimized for maximum productivity.

This is easier said than done. Workstation technology is expensive and ever-changing, and users have countless other things to think about on a daily basis, with hardware configuration low on the priority list. Many users develop simple rules of thumb for purchasing their workstation — e.g., buy the fastest processor, get plenty of memory, and choose a fast graphics card — but in reality, the decision is more complex than this. Too many users shortchange themselves and unintentionally limit their performance, only to end up paying for it in reduced productivity.

In this article, you will find simple ways to identify your CAD workstation needs, determine the best configuration, and ensure that your machine is optimized for your workflow.

Determine Your Application and File Needs

The first step in choosing a workstation is to understand approximately how much time you spend with each major application. With new equipment, the goal should always be to maximize productivity. For example, if you spend most of your time in a particular CAD application, you need to ensure you're getting the best performance possible during those hours. Other applications, such as e-mail and web browsers, are not as demanding of computer processing resources, but it's important to keep additional applications in mind when calculating your overall production time. Read more »

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Thomas A. Salomone is the worldwide product development and AEC market segment manager for Lenovo ThinkStation.


Dell Prepares for the Diverse Future of Workstations

Whether customers want to stick with desktop workstations, adopt a mobile machine, or move to a virtualization solution, the hardware developer has an answer ready.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

"It's a coming-out party after 17 years." That's how Jeff Clark, vice-chairman of operations, described Dell's first global Precision press event, held last week in the Austin, Texas area. The hardware developer invited media representatives to tour Dell facilities and hear about the company's plans for the future of Precision, its workstation product line.

Andy Rhodes, general manager of Dell's Precision business, explained that the company is building its portfolio around the "megatrends" it sees reshaping the market — including workstation virtualization and more widespread use of professional-level tools — and the related challenges that its customers face.

Just Like the Real Thing: Workstation Virtualization

The Age of the Workstation is not drawing to a close just yet: "Customers are going to have [desktop workstations] on their desk for many, many years," said Rhodes. There is increasing interest, however, in moving 3D modeling, rendering, and other demanding computing tasks away from the desktop and into a datacenter. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.


Upgraded GPU Gives Airline Designers a Comprehensive View of the Cabin

Switching to an NVIDIA Quadro K6000 graphics processing unit (GPU) improves model viewing and rendering at Zodiac Seats.

By Adam Scraba

Zodiac Aerospace is a global company that designs and manufactures aerospace equipment and systems for commercial, regional, and business aircraft. One of its largest divisions is Zodiac Seats, an aircraft seat manufacturer with offices in California, Texas, France, Great Britain, and other locations worldwide. Its customers include such airlines as Cathay Pacific, Emirates, and Air France, as well as other global, regional, and private carriers throughout the world.

In addition to seats, Zodiac Seats also designs various economy and business-class cabin configurations, working to maximize the number of passengers that can comfortably fit into the cabin while complying with each airline's specific requirements. The company recently implemented NVIDIA's newest and most powerful graphics processing unit (GPU), the Quadro K6000, to improve rendering speed and capacity for its designers.

A Design Workflow Bottleneck

Zodiac Seats is continually bringing more of the product design, development, and manufacturing processes in-house in order to achieve a more fully integrated product concept-to-delivery lifecycle for its clients. Everything in an airplane is so interconnected — and so limited by space constraints — that Zodiac Seats' designers and clients must be able to visualize the cabin as a whole in order to make the most informed design decisions. Photorealistic renders are critical to this decision process; they take the place of physical prototypes, which are expensive and time-consuming to create, and enable clients to see the big picture — the design of the entire cabin, complete with all its seats and other components. Achieving this type of visualization, however, has not always been possible for Zodiac's design team. Read more »

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Adam Scraba is a product manager at NVIDIA


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

Take a Big-Picture Look at the Overall CAD/CAM CNC Process Chain
March 25, 2014
9 a.m. PT
Chris Pollack from Siemens Industry will demonstrate important components of this overall CNC process chain in this webinar. Read more »

SPAR International
April 14–17, 2014
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The 11th annual SPAR International conference will introduce attendees to the latest tools and information for using the newest 3D measurement technologies. Read more »

PTC Creo Data Management
April 28, 2014
10 a.m. PT
This webcast will explore the latest releases of PTC Windchill Solutions for CAD data management. Read more »

Zuken Innovation World 2014
April 28–30, 2014
Dearborn, Michigan
This year's Zuken conference theme is Power of Innovation. 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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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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