Jeff's MCAD Blogging
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »
March 16th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
While it seems that central processing units (CPUs) get all the glory for computing horsepower, graphical processing units (GPUs) have become the processor of choice for many types of intensively parallel computations.
As the boundaries of computing are pushed in areas such as speech recognition and natural language processing, image and pattern recognition, text and data analytics, and other complex areas, researchers continue to look for new and better ways to extend and expand computing capabilities. For decades this has been accomplished via high-performance computing (HPC) clusters, which use huge amounts of expensive processing power to solve problems.
Researchers at the University of Illinois had studied the possibility of using graphics processing units (GPUs) in desktop supercomputers to speed processing of tasks such as image reconstruction, but it was a computing group at the University of Toronto that demonstrated a way to significantly advance computer vision using GPUs. By plugging in GPUs, previously used primarily for graphics, it became possible to achieve huge performance gains on computing neural networks, and these gains were reflected in superior results in computer vision.
CPU Vs. GPU
Unlike CPU applications, however, programs running on graphical processing units (GPUs) currently have no direct access to files on the host OS file system. Although the power, functionality, and utility of today’s GPUs now extend far beyond graphics processing, the coprocessor-style GPU programming model still requires developers to manage movement of data explicitly between its “home” in the CPU’s main memory and the GPU’s local memory.
What does a GPU do differently than a CPU and why don’t we use them for everything? Find out below from Jem Davies, VP of Technology at ARM.
CPU vs GPU (What’s the Difference?)
GPU architectures have their roots in basic graphical rendering operations, such as shading. In 1999, Nvidia introduced the GeForce 256, often referred to as the world’s first GPU – the specialized circuits, which can be built into a video card or on a motherboard to optimize computer memory for accelerating rendering. Read the rest of The Continuing Importance of GPUs For More Than Just Pretty Pictures
March 9th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
A few weeks ago we were in Los Angeles attending SOLIDWORKS World 2017. As usual, it was an overwhelming whirlwind of people, sights, sounds, and information while it was taking place, but has come into better focus now that some time has transpired for letting all of it sink in and make sense. One of the things I wanted to especially sort out was SOLIDWORKS’ take on model-based definition (MBD), where it stands today, and where it might be headed in the future
The last day of SOLIDWORKS World 2017 I sat down with Oboe Wu, SOLIDWORKS MBD Product Manager, and we discussed several aspects of MBD. Our discussion on SOLIDWORKS MBD centered around the creation and consumption of MBD data (that are tied to customers’ workflows), and the fact that MBD is transitioning from the “why implement” phase to the “how to implement” phase.
In the video below, SOLIDWORKS MBD Product Manager, Oboe Wu, discusses how to eliminate conversion of 3D data to 2D documents and fully leverage 3D design data throughout an organization and partners to reduce redundant tasks. He explains MBD from SOLIDWORKS’ point of view.
What is SOLIDWORKS Model-Based Definition?
He said that MBD is much more than just software applications and requires both process and mindset shifts to be successful. SOLIDWORKS wants to make defining, creating, and consuming MBD data as easy as possible because MBD is such a major process shift.
The consumption side of MBD data showcases the real purpose of MBD – to realize the full potential of downstream, intelligent manufacturing applications provided by the digital thread. The SOLIDWORKS charter is how to better consume MBD data.
According to Wu, time savings on the MBD data creation side is relatively small when compared with the time savings that can be realized on the consumption side. Ideally, data should be created once and consumed numerous times. In other word, the more times that MBD data is consumed, the better the value of creating it in the first place.
March 2nd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Since it began in 1986, Spatial has developed software components – modular software packages that perform a set of specific and related functions. This class of software is designed to work as a functional component of a larger application, such as CAD, CAM, CAE, Additive Manufacturing (AM), and Building Information Modeling (BIM). The goal of component software is to standardize the interfaces between software utility functions so that they can work together efficiently and cohesively.
In developing its software components, Spatial has always realized, too, that the best engineering software excels at optimizing imported data for data reuse. Spatial understands that design data reuse is much more than just data exchange.
February 23rd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
It wasn’t all that long ago that manufacturing machines, such as 3D printers and CNC mills were relegated to the factory floor because of their size and tendency to need or produce undesirable compounds, such as coolants, smoke, chips, solvents, etc. Today, however, there are a number of desktop 3D printers and milling machines available. Until relatively recently, though, one of the major manufacturing processes that hadn’t appeared on the desktop was injection molding. That’s about to change with the advent of the APSX-PIM desktop plastic molding machine from Advanced Production Systems (APSX).
Injection molding machines are known for being large and expensive machines that require significant infrastructure, steep learning curve, and high maintenance. For these and other reasons most individual makers and small businesses don’t have access to an injection molding machine, so APSX decided to make one that could be used by organizations with budget and space constraints.
February 21st, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Since its inception, I have been intrigued by Dassault’s elusive 3DEXPERIENCE, although it’s something I’ve always had difficulty getting my head wrapped around until relatively recently. A couple weeks ago at SOLIDWORKS World I spoke with David Mann, High-Tech Industry Sales Director at Dassault Systemes hoping to get a better understand what the 3DEXPERIENCE platform was all about.
After talking with Mr. Mann (in a video shown below), I now realize that the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a comprehensive engineering and business platform, each dependent on the other and not mutually exclusive.
David Mann, High-Tech Industry Sales Director, Dassault Systemes At SOLIDWORKS World 2017
Mann said that Dassault Systemes has evolved from 3D design and mockup to PLM to the 3DEXPERIENCE, which is helping customers understand the true behavior of the products they are developing. He said one of the next frontiers for Dassault Systemes is using virtual reality for designing more compelling products for better visualization instead of physical prototypes. As for IoT, he said, “IoT is a technology and business change. We want to be instrumental in designing IoT products and transform companies that will best serve the new economy as business models change from physical products to services.”
February 16th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
It’s said that all good things must come to an end, and last week at Autodesk, they did, with the resignation of Carl Bass, Autodesk’s President and CEO.
While at SOLDIWORKS World last week, I received an early morning email from an Autodesk spokesperson that the company was announcing that Carl Bass had decided to step down from his role as President and CEO. “With our subscription and cloud business well underway, Carl and the board have determined that now is the right time for Carl to step aside and let someone else guide the company into its next phase,” said the spokesperson.
Carl Bass Steps Down. Source: Bloomberg
While the search is underway for a new President/CEO, Autodesk’s Board has formed an Interim Office of the Chief Executive to oversee the Company’s day-to-day operations, which will be headed by Amar Hanspal, senior vice president and chief product officer and Andrew Anagnost, senior vice president and chief marketing officer as interim co-chief executive officers.
Amar and Andrew are very capable and bring more than 50 years of combined experience at Autodesk. They both have strong backgrounds in product, strategy and go-to-market, and their combined expertise will continue to drive the company’s subscription business. While Autodesk said it was focusing on its transition to a cloud and subscription-based business, as part of that transition, the company last February laid off 10 percent of its workforce.
Note the emphasis on the “subscription business.” Since its inception, it’s something that has not set well with a lot of Autodesk customers and has been an ongoing bone of contention. Autodesk has hardly been alone with the subscription model, just look how Adobe has exploited it. However, Autodesk customers were left with no alternative deployment choices as the subscription hatched and proliferated.
February 9th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
This week was one giant blur at SOLIDWORKS 2017 in Los Angeles that was witnessed not only by me, but also more than 5,000 attendees. The exhibit floor with over 120 partners opened at the beginning of the Superbowl with TVs and libations all around, so most people were in a good mood by the end of the game, especially if they were a New England Patriots fan.
The theme for this years SOLIDWORKS WORLD was, “The New; The Next; The Never Before,” which was a good idea but was not evident until the third day of the conference exactly what this meant. On the first day, the SOLIDWORKS message was choppy, not cohesive, clear, or coherent as it could/should have been; and some of the presenters didn’t make sense, as there was too much entertainment fluff and not nearly enough technical content that users come for, me included. Why drag AEC and the Dassault Systems 3D Experience platform into a SOLIDWORKS event? After all, this is SOLIDWORKS World, not Dassault Systemes Universe.
SOLIDWORKS WORLD 2017: Entrance to Exhibit Hall
However, things got much better as the conference commenced in earnest with classes and the exhibition floor in full swing.
Some of the biggest announcements from SOLIDWORKS World 2017 follow briefly below. In coming weeks we will cover each of these and others in much more detail based on discussions we had with SOLIDWORKS’ product managers.
February 2nd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
This week MSC Software Corporation, the company that brought you such products as Nastran, Patran, Marc, and Apex, announced that it had reached an agreement to be purchased by Hexagon AB for $834 million cash. Like all corporate acquisitions, this one is subject to clearance and standard regulatory filings, and is expected to be completed in April. For more than 50 years MSC has been a leading provider of CAE solutions, primarily simulation software for virtual product and manufacturing process development, and was one of the first 10 commercial software companies.
With 2016 proforma sales of $230, MSC will continue to run as an independent business unit within Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence (HMI) division. HMI’s main businesses are in the automotive, aerospace, machinery, consumer electronics, and other discrete manufacturing markets. Process-oriented solutions are essential for manufacturers, and MSC’s products address key design and engineering processes for CAE.
“Our mission continues to be laser-focused on driving leadership in simulation tools, with solutions from materials to systems, said Dominic Gallello, President & CEO of MSC Software. “We will continue to work toward delivering breakthrough value to our customers. Although our mission and roadmap does not change, we anticipate that our ability to offer additional process oriented solutions from design to manufacturing will be enhanced by joining forces with Hexagon.”
As for the future of MSC Software, Mr. Gallello said, “Hexagon considers MSC’s management team, along with all MSC employees, to be an extremely valuable asset. No personnel changes are anticipated as a result of this transaction. Additionally, Hexagon is a strong believer in MSC’s product roadmap and growth plans. No changes to MSC’s current product roadmap are planned. MSC’s mission continues to be a leader in simulation tools, solutions from materials to systems and related services. Our aim is to continue to deliver breakthrough value to our customers.”
Hexagon AB is built upon three major business units: Leica Geosystems, Intergraph, and Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (HMI). MSC will be integrated within HMI, because of the obvious overlap in customer base between the two groups. MSC will operate independently while in coordination with other functions and business units to execute on technology and commercial synergies.
January 26th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Most large PLM companies deal with three groups of people that are necessary for survival – employees, customers, and investors. Every company regards and treats the three groups differently, but most of the successful ones acknowledge the importance of all three – although some companies are better at it than others and some companies regard one or more of the groups as necessary evils.
Each of the groups gets the information it needs to make decisions from different sources, such as press releases, news feeds, whitepapers, eBooks, financial reports, and so on. Financial reports for tech companies are especially interesting not only because of what they say, but what they might imply. And, while some companies try to report “alternative facts,” financial figures don’t lie, and some things are obvious, but there are always numbers subject to speculative interpretation.
That brings me to PTC’s most recent financial report that was made public last week. There were some surprises, some good, some not so good, but in many ways reinforced and reflected the direction of the company, namely IoT. Admittedly, IoT was not the biggest source of revenue for PTC, but it’t clear that it is increasingly important to the health and wealth of the company.
January 23rd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Last month, RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc, a global distributor for electromechanical engineering components announced that user activations of DesignSpark Mechanical (DSM), the company’s free-for-download 3D modeling and design tool, had reached a cumulative total of 200,000. According to the company, the volume of total activations of the software continues to increase at a rate of between four and five percent per month.
Developed in conjunction with SpaceClaim, DesignSpark Mechanical is a key tool in the RS DesignSpark initiative for providing resources that enable engineers to rapidly develop prototypes in the product concept design stage. Originally launched in late 2013 with a second version offering new functionality introduced the following year, the software is also available with extended engineering options (DS Mechanical Exchange and DS Mechanical Drawing) that costs $995 for the pair.
“DesignSpark Mechanical is a powerful 3D solid modeling tool that has rapidly been accepted by professionals, students and the maker communities, who have found enormous utility in the tool, enabling them to quickly develop 3D prototypes and bring their concepts and products to market in a very fast time,” said Mike Brojak, Head of DesignSpark Customer Solutions at RS. “Meeting this milestone is another hallmark of success for our DesignSpark initiative, which empowers engineers and designers in the maker community and from the smallest start-up to large organizations.”