If the transition of 3D design capabilities to the cloud has been a series of measured steps, think of Autodesk’s latest move as a leap for CAD.
Autodesk, which has been the most aggressive of the CAD vendors to embrace the new software delivery paradigm, has announced a technology preview of full-fledged versions of its 3D design, engineering, and entertainment tools running in a Web browser for the first time. These browser-based versions of Autodesk Inventor, Revit, Maya, and 3ds Max provide access to the bulk of functionality in the traditional desktop versions on any Internet-connected system or device without requiring a full license of the program, and without keeping the user tied to any specific PC. Continue reading
Graphics-heavy 3D programs once inseparably tied to powerful desktops are migrating. They’re heading into the cloud. More and more are making their debut as SaaS offerings. Today’s announcement from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and NVIDIA is further proof that cloud-hosted CAD is not merely speculative or conceptual; it’s already here, waiting in your browser. Continue reading
If you appreciate irony like I do, you’d probably be amused by the thought of attending a virtualization conference in flesh. The latest trend in IT is to move the stack of hardware that used to sit in a climate-controlled server room to the cloud, according to organizers of VMworld 2013 (Moscone Center, San Francisco, Aug 25-19). This led me to wonder whether I ought to log on to the conference from a browser rather than attend in person. Still, Moscone Center is a mere 30 mins away by train from where I live, so I headed out there with my camera and notepad for an old-fashioned exhibit walk. What I discovered is, you need a lot of sophisticated back-end hardware to hide the computer desktop from the user’s physical desk. Continue reading
Mountain climbers know Piz Daint, measuring 9,700 feet, as part of Switzerland’s snow-dusted Ortler Alps. Researchers and supercomputer nerds, however, know another Piz Daint, installed inside the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (abbreviated as CSCS in Swiss). The center is a unit of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, where Albert Einstein once studied. Since supercomputers are used for, among other things, accurate weather prediction, the micro-climates of the Piz Daint in the Alps could very well be computed on the Piz Daint at the CSCS.
The supercomputer is a Cray XC30 system. Its current performance is listed as 216 TFlops, according to Top 500 Supercomputers. It’s the largest supercomputing giant Cray has assembled and delivered to date. But it’s about to get faster. When it’s retrofitted with Kepler GPUs, its speed will go up to 1 PFlops (1,000 trillion floating point operations per sec), announced NVIDIA. By early 2004, the Piz Daint will become “the fastest GPU accelerator-based scientific supercomputer in Europe,” NVIDIA noted.
Matthew Gueller chuckled when I asked him if he does rendering, as if to say, “Do you even need to ask?”
Being a professional visualization artist and surface designer, Matthew sees a large chunk of his time consumed by rendering. “Some of the images we have to render — they’re one-to-one ratio, at 72 DPI poster resolution — can take up to 16 hours to finish,” he noted. “Lots of materials involved, large data sets — they’re very CPU-intense.” Continue reading