When we first launched in September of 1995, we picked the name Desktop Engineering because computer workstations had become powerful enough to run 3D MCAD software in a form factor compact enough to sit on your desktop. Today, given the availability of workstations with multiple CPUs that run at incredible speeds, our name might seem quaint. And yet the term is more appropriate than ever as the engineering taking place on desktops is simply becoming more sophisticated and more powerful.
This engineering is enabled by hardware like the new Intel Nehalem multicore processor with an integrated memory controller that supports up to 192GB of memory, which makes workstations of the past seem antiquated. New graphic boards can now support billions of colors, as evidenced by the new HP DreamColor color-critical monitors. Visualization has never looked so real. And the GPUs making this possible are not just sitting there handling graphics; they are loaded with hundreds of cores that are also tackling big computing problems and often waiting for multithreaded applications to access them. Desktop engineering has turned into desktop supercomputing.
What does all this mean for the design engineer? Fast is what it means. Complex models? No problem. Multiphysics simulation what-ifs? You won’t be waiting anymore, and will have to think up another excuse for a coffee break.
How can computing power keep expanding? Will Moore’s Law collapse? Not so far. It’s been predicted before and has yet to happen. Sometime not too long from now we will probably be discussing which molecular computer or quantum computer we will need to purchase next.
For these reasons, I think we’ll keep the name. It seems pretty clear that desktop engineering has taken on a new meaning. An engineer’s desktop is still the place most of the work is done, the tools have just changed and improved.
In the spirit of providing quality tools and improving the way we deliver information to you, DE is introducing two new blogs. Tony Lockwood, DE’s editor at large (That’s right, the guy who once stated in this magazine, “I have no evidence to support the following belief beyond my gut feeling, but I do have a gut to feel it.”) will launch a new blog called DE’s Burning Questions. Tony will present and moderate questions engineers submit to him about design engineering technologies.
Reader questions submitted to Tony will form the basis for further, in-depth review and research into issues of interest to the design engineering community as well as the design engineering marketplace. Readers who submit a question accepted for additional research will be eligible for a prize supplied by a blog sponsor.
Kenneth Wong, a longtime guru of MCAD, PLM, and collaborative software will be launching Kenneth Wong’s Virtual Desktop on our website. He hopes to provide a closer look at lifecycle components while linking engineers with processes and products. Kenneth will go beyond news and reviews and provide an incisive behind-the-scenes look at the industry. For those of you who don’t know Kenneth well, he has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first as an editor on Cadence and later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. He is also addicted to good coffee.
You can go to DE’s home page at deskeng.com to submit a burning question or participate in these new forums.
Steve Robbins is the CEO of Level 5 Communications and executive editor of DE. Send comments about this subject to DE-Editors@deskeng.com.