Video interview from AutoDesk OTC talks about ATI FirePro certification for CAD

Posted by Tony DeYoung on June 17, 2010

This video interview with AMD's Allen Bourgoyne, at the AutoDesk One Team Conference back in early March, talks about the new line of ATI FirePro workstation graphics accelerators and specifically mentions the certification process. I often see mention on several graphics sites about modding FirePro drivers to work on their near-spec-equivalent Radeon consumer version, so I thought this might be a good place to talk about what certification means - really.

Both the Radeon and FirePro cards and drivers are tested for AutoCAD and other DCC/CAD application. But only the FirePro gets certified.

Certified means:

  • The card is tested extensively so that it operates as expected in the application using its driver - no unexpected clipping or unusual shading when viewing CAD objects. The driver makes specific assumptions about the board hardware, so even if a Radeon HD 5870 and a FirePro V8800 share 98% of the same hardware, the workstation driver and the certification is based on testing specifically for the professional hardware. So for example, the CAD- tuned performance with the FirePro V8800 assumes 2GB GDDR5 memory checking in at 1150MHz, support for the S400 Synchronization Module, clock differences, etc. With the Radeon card and drivers (modded or shipping), there is no guarantee of the performance - you simply have to accept that wire frames may peek out of shaded surfaces, and clipping can occur when multiple objects are animated. These artifacts simply don't occur when using the certified FirePro cards.

  • You get support. Buy a FirePro card and you have a direct line to support from both the CAD vendor and from ATI. This counts mostly when you are in the middle of a time-sensitive project and suddenly your card is not performing as you expected.

In both cases I think the key point is that for professional CAD, Medical imaging and DCC, the cost of the software and the FirePro workstation graphics card is in-material compared to the cost of the people running the software/hardware. If the modeler or artist is waiting for screen re-draws or experiences unpredictable rendering behavior, or can't get support, that’s productivity lost.

Note: the video interview is obviously pretty scripted, but the specific mention of certification made it worth sharing. The other thing that I found interesting was the use of the word Fusion...

Tags: CAD, Hardware

OpenCL 1.1 announced - to be supported by AMD Fusion APUs (combined GPU & CPU acceleration)

Posted by Tony DeYoung on June 14, 2010

Khronos announced OpenCL 1.1.

OpenCL 1.1 adds significant functionality for enhanced parallel programming flexibility, functionality and performance on the GPU and CPU including:

  • New data types including 3-component vectors and additional image formats;
  • Handling commands from multiple hosts and processing buffers across multiple devices;
  • Operations on regions of a buffer including read, write and copy of 1D, 2D or 3D rectangular regions;
  • Enhanced use of events to drive and control command execution;
  • Additional OpenCL C built-in functions such as integer clamp, shuffle and asynchronous strided copies;
  • Improved OpenGL interoperability through efficient sharing of images and buffers by linking OpenCL and OpenGL events.
Tags: OpenCL, OpenGL

Getting more for less is never a bad thing, especially in GPUs - Icrontic reviews ATI FirePro V8800

Posted by Tony DeYoung on June 11, 2010

Icronic reviews the ATI FirePro V8800 and compares it to the FirePro V7800, V5800, V4800, and V3800 as well at the Quadro FX3800, using Cinebench R10, Cinebench R11, and SPECViewPerf 10.

General takeaways:

- ATI has upped the ante of real time OpenGL performance in their newest generation of workstation GPUs

- The lightning quick performance and superb feature set are more than enough to offset the pangs of heat production and power use, so long as you have enough space to house the card. The addition of Eyefinity Multi-Display alone makes the V8800 a perfect solution for artists who spend too much time alt+tabbing through work. I can guarantee if you get a chance to work with the FirePro V8800, you will not be disappointed in any way. This card is spectacular.


Tags: Benchmarks, CAD

Do you want one large monitor or three small monitors?  Add your vote!

Posted by Tony DeYoung on June 10, 2010

SolidWorks “Lets Go Design” site has a poll running until June 16: Do you want one large monitor or three small monitors?

I have a gigantic 27in screen and I use it to its fullest, but if I could have three screens with even more resolution, of course I would go for it (My vote is obviously “three smaller monitors”). 

Not only is it visually easier to digest, I think it is easier to organize your applications per display.  SolidWorks on one screen,  PhotoShop on another, and my ever-present mail and web browser on a third.  That way I don’t get the overlap problems that I typically encounter with my big screen.  I can of course use workspaces, but that requires set up- rather than on-the-fly adjustments.

Got an opinion?  Vote and then comment here if you want.

Tags: CAD, Eyefinity

AEC Magazine review of FirePro V8800 performance and EyeFinity

Posted by Tony DeYoung on June 09, 2010

Greg Corke (of Develop3D fame) has written a review of the FirePro V8800 for AEC Magazine.

The take away:
“The FirePro V8800 certainly delivers the frame rates, but what many architects and engineers may find more exciting about the product is the potential for Eyefinity. Being able to drive a powerwall from a single machine is an exciting proposition, and one that could help bring large scale visualisation and clash detection into the hands of smaller organisations. But, transforming a desktop into an extended 3D accelerated workspace is even more compelling and with display prices tumbling all the time, well within reach of all companies, big and small. As more and more architect and engineers get involved with simulation, rendering and design direct on the desktop the timing could not be better.”

ATI FirePro V8800 with Eyefinity powering 3 projectors on a curved monitor

Posted by Tony DeYoung on June 03, 2010

I wrote about using Eyefininty with a curved monitor with a video example from PC Perspective.  But today I came across this great still image of an immersive display by Scalable for Windows 7 desktops using a single FirePro V8800.  If this display was gesture sensitive, it would be Minority Report!


Tags: Eyefinity

AMD 2010 Computex press conference video on-demand - demo of Fusion Accelerated Processing Units

Posted by Tony DeYoung on June 02, 2010

At yesterday’s Computex Press Conference, AMD unveiled their first demo of Fusion APU - the integration of the CPU and GPU into a single die.

From AMD’s senior vice president of technology & development, Rick Bergman,  “This explosion in multimedia requires new applications and new ways to manage and manipulate data. Low resolution video needs to be up-scaled for larger screens, HD video must be shrunk for smart phones, and home movies need to be stabilized and cleaned up for more enjoyable viewing. When AMD formally launches the AMD Fusion family of APUs, scheduled for the first half of in 2011, we expect the PC experience to evolve dramatically.”

The first APUs are expected to ship in the first half of 2011,  the 32nm “Llano”  for desktops and the 40nm “Ontario” for notebooks/netbooks.  Microsoft is actively working with AMD for high performance DX11.

The on-demand press conference video is available here.
Bergman starts speaking about the APU at about 44 min into the press conference.  Importantly (to me) he or colleagues mention growing support for OpenGL and OpenCL!

Below is a demo of an early prototype Fusion mobile(?) processor playing a DX11 game.

Tags: DX11, Hardware

ATI Eyefinity Technology supports Dassault Systemes strategy for immersive virtual reality

Posted by Tony DeYoung on June 01, 2010

A new PLM Market Place  blog talks about ATI Eyefinity technology for the CAD-specific market. The multi-display technology enables CATIA and Dassault Systemes users to run up to four simultaneous high-resolution displays with a single graphics card to create a hugely expanded visual workspace, and supports Dassault Systemes’ strategy for immersive virtual reality.

If you are not familiar with the DS virtual reality efforts and interest check out 3D Perspectives, the official corporate blog of Dassault Systèmes.  A recent blog post of their talks VR and how what the virtual world has to offer, is life augmented.  It is technology where you can be in communion with others to innovate where it’s otherwise impossible.  Until we all have the VR goggles from Caprica,  multi-display technology may be the next best thing.

Tags: CAD, Eyefinity

ATI FirePro V7800 and V4800 Professional Graphics Review - PC Perspectives

Posted by Tony DeYoung on June 01, 2010

PC Perspective rounds out their reviews of the new FirePro line with a review of the ATI FirePro V7800 and FirePro V4800.

Cut to the chase conclusions:

“The new FirePro V7800 and V4800 graphics cards fell in line with our expectations based on our previous time spent with the flagship V8800 and V5800/V3800.  If you are a professional graphics user I would find it difficult to not recommend the latest Evergreen-based options when compared to the most recent Quadro releases from NVIDIA.”

“After testing all of the above the best values are the V4800 and V5800; the V4800 is a great bargain for a professional series graphics cards that performs much better than the V3800 with a pretty modest price increase.  The V5800 performs pretty similarly with the V7800 in most of our tests and with a 70% lower price, unless you know you NEED the 2GB frame buffer, it just makes the most sense for developers not on an unlimited budget.”

My note:  Regarding the 2GB frame buffer, where this really will have an impact is with products that take advantage of VBO for CAD (e.g. SolidWorks, CATIA) m or in products like MachStudio Pro which rely on the video frame buffer size.

Tags: 3D, Hardware

Top 11 YouTube Videos About Printing 3D Objects

Posted by Tony DeYoung on May 27, 2010

3D printers are primarily intended for rapid prototyping, bypassing the traditional workflow of sending a CAD model to a machinist and waiting for a product to materialize. Instead you get direct printing of a 3D part.

ReadWriteWeb has posted a listing of the top ten videos about 3D printing. These videos are from FormZ, ProtoPulsion, Z Corp, Print2 3D, and Thing Labs.  There is also a clip of the Star Trek Replicator thrown in for fun.  While there are certainly more 3D printers out there like the HP 3D Designjet, this set of videos gives a nice overview of the technology.

I’m also including an 11th video of the new ZBuilder Ultra, which uses a DLP projector to “project”  UV light onto each layers of UV-light curable polymers. The result is a smooth-finished prototype part that can be used immediately and withstand high-end functional testing. Develop3D has a good overview article on the Zbuilder Ultra.

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