July 06, 2009
NX On Mac OS X: Harbinger for MCAD?
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Siemens PLM Software announced the general availability of its NX software application with native support for Mac OS X on 64-bit Intel-based Macs. The full computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) functionality of NX, Siemens PLM Software’s flagship digital product development application, now includes the Mac in its list of supported operating environments.

“We are delighted to add the Mac to the comprehensive list of operating environments supported by our NX CAD/CAM applications,” said Joan Hirsch, vice president of Product Design Solutions, Siemens PLM Software. “Today’s announcement further expands the flexibility of NX and provides customers with the freedom to choose from one of industry’s broadest range of supported operating systems.”

NX is used by leading companies around the globe to design and manufacture some of the world’s most innovative and sophisticated products. Its wide adoption throughout the global manufacturing industry is due in part to its ability to support a wide range of operating environments – including Windows, UNIX, and Linux – in a heterogeneous or single operating system deployment.

“NX has been our exclusive CAD/CAM software for several years because of its unmatched ability to handle all of our product design and manufacturing needs,” said Marcel Eggimann of Eggimann Design. “At the same time, we have always preferred the Mac as the system of choice for the work we do. Now we can have the best of both worlds as these two great technologies come together. We have been using NX on Mac OS X for three months now and we are very impressed with its performance and reliability.”

The Mac OS X version of NX includes all of the software’s robust CAD and CAM functionality, as well as support for Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter platform through rich client capabilities embedded in NX and the thin client based on Apple’s Safari web browser. As a result, NX for Mac OS X can leverage all the capabilities of Teamcenter, the world’s most widely used PLM portfolio, including its ability to support a multi-platform CAD strategy.

“It’s pretty clear that more and more people are demanding that their primary software tools are available on their operating system of choice,” said Al Dean, Editor in Chief, DEVELOP3D.com. “Siemens PLM Software’s move with NX to Mac OS X should see them gain a foothold in a growing community.”

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

This announcement is significant on two counts:
  • It’s a major MCAD package running natively on Mac OS X

  • It’s a major MCAD package on a 64-bit Intel platform

    Of course, NX is not the first or only CAD package available for the Mac. For example, just a sampling of design packages that run natively under OS X include TurboCAD, ArchiCAD, SketchUp, modo, FormZ, Alias Studio, Rhino, VectorWorks, and solidThinking. I will admit, though, NX is a big step up for the Mac in the MCAD world.

    A relative few adventuresome Windows MCAD users have switched to the Mac platform using a Windows emulator or dual-boot configuration that support both Windows and OS X with products such as Bootcamp, Parallels, Fusion, and MacWindows. The dual-booters seem to have had much better luck than the emulators and the couple of times I’ve seen dual-boot in action, I have been impressed with the performance of Windows and Windows applications on the Mac platform. So impressed, in fact, that I’m really leaning toward a Mac and a dual-boot configuration as my next MCAD hardware choice.

    Above and beyond the Mac and OS X issue, I think on of the most significant developments is the fact that the entire computing industry, hardware and software, is finally transitioning from 32-bit to 64-bit technology, and it’s easy to see why. Today’s Mac computers can handle up to 32GB of physical memory, but the 32-bit applications that run on them can address only 4GB of RAM at a time. Theoretically, 64-bit computing lets 64-bit applications address 16 billion gigabytes (16 exabytes) of memory. It can also enable computers to crunch twice the data per clock cycle, which can dramatically speed up numeric calculations and other tasks -- the mainstay of MCAD applications.
    Earlier versions of Mac OS X have offered a range of 64-bit capabilities, but now takes the next step in the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit.

    The march toward 64-bit applications is a natural, since nearly all Mac system applications -- including the Finder, Mail, Safari, iCal, and iChat -- are already built with 64-bit code. Another benefit of the 64-bit applications in OS X is that they’re generally more secure from hackers and malware than the 32-bit versions. Why? Because 64-bit applications can use more advanced security techniques to fend off malicious code. 64-bit applications can keep their data out of harm's way because of a more secure function argument-passing mechanism and the use of hardware-based execute disable for memory. In addition, memory is marked using strengthened checksums, helping to prevent
    attacks that rely on corrupting memory.

    Owing to Apple’s penchant for simplicity and flexibility, Mac OS X is available in ONE version that runs both 64-bit and 32-bit applications. This means you don’t need to update everything on your system just to run a single 64-bit program. And new 64-bit applications work just fine with your existing printers, storage devices, and PCI cards. What a great concept and contrast to OS X’s main operating system competitor.

    Does Siemens stand to make a good sum of money from coming over to the OS X environment? That’s a good question and only time will tell. Perhaps the bigger question is; will other MCAD vendors follow suit? That’s an exciting prospect, because I think the answer is “Yes.” And, as we all know, the MCAD industry sure could stand a little excitement these days.

    The Week’s Top 5

    At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

    Dassault Systèmes (DS) launched V6R2010, the latest release of its new platform. The announcement introduces 42 new V6 products supporting business processes in all industries and a new offer, V6 PLM Express, tailored specifically for mid-market businesses and small teams within large organizations. V6R2010 also includes direct modeling capabilities and realistic simulation solutions for non-experts. V6R2010 opens up PLM 2.0 to the mid-market, including real-time collaboration, online-enabled design-anywhere functionality, and a single, open scalable platform, in a pre-packaged environment engineered for rapid deployment. PLM Express’ role-based selections of the full V6
    portfolio and its out-of-the-box configurations make the solution relatively easy to implement. Because all V6 solutions share the same interface and data model, mid-market users can inherently collaborate and integrate with OEMs. Support for multi-CAD interoperability and hybrid V4-V5 implementations, will be enhanced with V6’s open architecture.

    Autodesk Inventor Fusion is new Digital Prototyping technology that unites the power and control of parametric, history-based modeling with the speed and ease of use of direct, history-free modeling, enabling users to choose the modeling approach that is right for the task at hand. The technology preview is the first step in delivering the full vision of Inventor Fusion. The Inventor Fusion Technology Preview is intended for companies that need to make rapid, history-free design changes to a model through direct manipulation but also have many years worth of feature- and history-based data and design intent that they need to access, use and maintain.

    The preview is the first step toward Autodesk's goal of providing bidirectional parametric and direct workflows to users by allowing them to adopt the modeling approach that best fits their needs in a single application. The company is planning a second technology preview this fall that will enable users to perform direct modeling for fast changes and then see their changes updated in the model's parametric feature history, maintaining crucial design intent. For more information or to download the Autodesk Inventor Fusion Technology Preview, visit

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.

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