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Posts Tagged ‘Displays’

What to Look for in a Professional Monitor for CAD Applications

June 3, 2013 1 comment

CADMonitorsGuideThe editors of Cadalyst have created a resource guide for professional monitors for CAD applications. Click here to download your complimentary guide.

  • Insight: Understand monitor technology in the context of CAD applications.
  • Advice: What are the options that are most important for your application?
  • Reviews: Compare 6 new monitors
  • And more!
Categories: Display Tags: , ,

Multiple Display Support for CAD Workstations

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

The most compelling reason to install multiple GPUs is to drive multiple high-resolution displays. The secret’s out that “multi-mon” is the single best way to improve your productivity. Anyone who’s gone to two displays (or three — or more!) will tell you they could never go back to one. And more graphics cards can display more pixels across more monitors.

Which Graphics Card Works for You?

EyefinityThat said, you don’t necessarily need to populate two cards to run two monitors, so pay attention to the cards you’re selecting. NVIDIA’s Quadro with nView and Mosaic technology can support two displays across most of the product line. A single high-end AMD FirePro V7900, with its Eyefinity technology, can handle four on its own, thank you very much. As such, if your performance demands have you buying midrange or high-end cards, you might get all the screen real estate you want with one card. But if you’re much hungrier for pixels and screens than you are for polygons per second, you might consider two less-expensive, dual-monitor cards.

On top of multi-monitor support, you can use that extra slot to turn your workstation into a supercomputer. An exaggeration? Not to some. General-purpose computing on GPUs (GPGPU) technology is still evolving, but many of the applications that show the most promise are the ones of most interest to engineers and other CAD users: applications such as computational fluid
dynamics (CFD) and finite-element analysis (FEA). Simulation software developers such as ANSYS and Abaqus are porting code to harness GPUs to deliver big speed-ups — in many cases tenfold or even 100- fold increases — over CPU-only computation.

High-end graphics cards usually require more power than the 75 watts supplied by the typical x16 PCI Express interface. Workstation OEMs accommodate their extra needs via auxiliary power cables drawn from the supply. Some high-end and virtually all ultra high-end graphics cards are dual-slot thickness. They insert into one PCI Express x16 connector, but their thickness means an
adjacent x16 slot may be blocked and rendered useless.

Make the Right Choice

When purchasing a workstation online, the OEM’s product configurator should let you know if the chosen card or cards will mate to the chosen system, with respect to power supplies and connectors, the number of available PCI Express x16 slots, and whether a dual-slot card has sufficient clearance. For example, when outfitting graphics on a smaller chassis that can’t accommodate two dual-slot cards, chances are the OEM will only offer the option of two entry-level or two mid-range cards, both of which are single slot width.

For that matter, if you’re perusing the latest flavor of entry level workstation, full-length cards may not have clearance lengthwise. Again, the online configurator should ensure compatibility, so you shouldn’t have to worry about these issues.

Author: Alex Herrera

New Accelerated Processing Units for CAD from AMD

August 15, 2012 1 comment

AMD launched the AMD FirePro A300 Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) for entry-level and mainstream desktop workstations. Featuring AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology, the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs are designed for CAD and media and entertainment (M&E) workflows.

AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs combine CPU and GPU functionality on a single chip to blend workstation performance and application-certified compatibility required to help keep design professionals productive in their work.

“Design professionals demand workstation-class tools that enable productivity and flexibility in their workflow, and the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs enable workstation integrators and OEMs an exciting new computing platform on which to design and build powerful, entry-level desktop workstation configurations,” said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD Graphics.

According to the company, the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs are the first single-chip processors capable of delivering the workstation-class visual computing performance required for advanced professional design workflows. The introduction of AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs is designed to allow OEMs and workstation integrators (WSIs) greater flexibility, enabling new workstation designs that help save space, are energy efficient, and have low heat and noise levels without compromising true workstation-class performance and reliability.

Performance

AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs were developed for the entry-level and mainstream workstation segments, providing a blend of CPU and GPU performance and industry-leading features to keep design professionals efficient:

  • Support for AMD Eyefinity Technology for enhanced efficiency and immersive, multi-monitor productivity;
  • AMD Turbo Core technology, where CPU and GPU performance are dynamically scaled depending on workload demands, effectively providing a more responsive experience;
  • Support for horizontal display resolutions up to 10,240 x 1600 pixels, enabling large desktop spaces across multiple high-resolution display devices for advanced multitasking;
  • Support for Discrete Compute Offload (DCO), allowing additional compute capability by using discrete AMD FirePro GPUs in parallel with APU graphics for extended GPGPU performance;
  • 30-bit color support to enable image and color fidelity for advanced workflows such as color correction and image processing when using displays capable of 10-bit-per-channel operation;
  • Dedicated UVD (universal video decoder/VCE, or video CODEC engine) media encoding hardware for faster “fixed function” GPU processing of H.264/MPEG4 files and other motion media formats when using compatible software, to free up CPU resources for other tasks.

Pricing and Availability

The AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs will be available in systems from a number of workstation integrators starting in August 2012.

AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs
APU Model TDP CPU Cores CPU Clock (Max/Base) AMD Stream Processors GPU Clock Unlocked
AMD FirePro A300 65W 4 4 GHz / 3.4 GHz 384 760 MHz No
AMD FirePro A320 100W 4 4.2 GHz / 3.8 GHz 384 800 MHz Yes

Author: CADspeed editors

AMD Introduces New Workstation Graphics Cards for CAD

August 8, 2012 1 comment

If you’ve upgraded to the latest CAD software applications and your workstation is feel a little, well, overworked, AMD just might have the answer you’ve been looking in its latest line of workstation graphics launched this week.

The AMD FirePro W9000 GPU features incredible increased memory bandwidth and greater multi-display support performance than the competing solution. Following closely are the AMD FirePro W8000, W7000 and W5000 workstation graphics cards, all built on the AMD Graphics Core Next Architecture, and designed to balance compute and 3D workloads efficiently for computer-aided design and engineering, and for media and entertainment (M&E) professionals.

The AMD FirePro W9000, W8000, W7000 and W5000 GPUs are optimized and certified for leading software applications enabling users to unleash their creativity by ensuring ultra-high geometry performance. The latest AMD FirePro workstation graphics cards can enable smooth handling of complex models and feature dynamic power management that enables great performance and efficient power usage.

Using AMD Eyefinity technology, the AMD FirePro W9000, W8000, and W7000 GPUs can drive up to six, 30” independent displays via Multi-Stream Transport (MST) hubs for maximum workspace utilization at ultra-high 4096×2160 resolutions.

“As professionals work with larger data sets that demand advanced visualization and complex models, they need a graphics solution that is fast, powerful, and reliable,” said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD Graphics. “Certified for today’s software applications, the new AMD FirePro workstation graphics cards bring a range of features and capabilities for professionals working in digital signage, broadcast graphics, CAD/CAE and M&E, delivering the ideal balance of power, performance and reliability at the right price point.”

With the latest AMD FirePro workstation graphics offerings, graphics professionals can create more complex models and interact with them in real time, helping improve workflows and boost productivity. Through GCN and GeometryBoost, the state-of-the-art AMD FirePro W9000 workstation GPU delivers 1.95 billon triangles per second, which is 1.5 times as great as the competitor’s most powerful workstation graphics card, and up to 83 percent greater memory bandwidth than the competing solution, for outstanding application responsiveness.

The AMD FirePro W8000 workstation GPU, features Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory support and offers category leading dual-precision compute performance, up to 2.2 times as fast as the competing solution. This helps professionals experience greater accuracy in calculations performed for structural and molecular analysis and computational fluid dynamics without impacting application performance. Not to be outdone, the AMD FirePro W7000 workstation GPU is up to five times as fast as the competing solution in single-precision compute performance, while the AMD FirePro W5000 workstation GPU is the most powerful mid-range workstation graphics card ever created, delivering significantly better resolution, memory and display output performance than the competing card.

The AMD FirePro W9000, W8000, W7000 and W5000 workstation graphics cards are optimized and certified for leading workstation applications. Additionally, these new AMD FirePro cards support PCI Express 3.0 and AMD PowerTune and AMD ZeroCore Power technologies for dynamic power management.

 Product
 Target Market
 TFLOP
 Memory Size
 SRP

AMD FirePro W9000

High-performance CAD engineers, media designers, digital signage professionals

4 TFLOPs single precision

1 TFLOP double precision

6GB of high speed GDDR5 memory

USD$3,999

AMD FirePro W8000

High-performance CAD engineers, media designers, digital signage professionals

3.23 TFLOPs single precision

806 GFLOPs double precision

4GB of high speed GDDR5 memory

USD$1,599

AMD FirePro W7000

Mid-range solution for CAD engineers, media designers, digital signage

2.4 TFLOPs single precision

152 GFLOPs double precision

4GB of high speed GDDR5 memory

USD$899

AMD FirePro W5000

Mid-range solution for CAD engineers, media designers, digital signage

1.27 TFLOPs single precision

80 GFLOPs double precision

2GB of high speed GDDR5 memory

USD$599

Find out more at the AMD website.

Choose the Best Display for Your CAD Work, Part 2: Getting the Most for Your Money

September 15, 2011 3 comments

Previously we covered the important characteristics to look for when choosing your next CAD display. Here, we finish our discussion with some suggestions about shopping and costs, as well as what you will need to get the best possible image out of your new display.

Seeing is Believing

As the old proverb states, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” If possible, view your potential display up close and personal — before you buy. Ideally, you should view the candidate displays under the same lighting conditions as those of your office. Also, don’t be afraid to bring an 8× magnifying loupe with you. You can learn a lot about a display by examining it at the pixel level. Quality displays will have well-defined, tightly packed groups or rows of red, green, and blue dots. These are the primary colors for the additive color process of light, as opposed to cyan, magenta, and yellow, which are primary for the subtractive color process of pigments. (Hah—I worked in a quick physics lesson.) Lesser displays will look blurry or fuzzy at the pixel level.

What You Should Expect to Pay

What you pay for your display depends on several factors, including the size, quality, and feature set, as well as where you purchase it. At the low end, budget at least $500 for a medium-quality 24″ display. On the other hand, you can easily spend $2,500 for a high-quality 30″ display. Without mentioning vendors or models, if we were in the market today for a CAD display, we would be looking at a good-quality 27″ LED backlight LCD display at a cost of about $1,000. Remember, you are going to be spending a lot of time with your choice of display, spend the extra money now, so you don’t have regrets later.

Adjusting Your Display

After you have made your decision and have your new display in hand, don’t stop there. Get the most out of your new LCD panel with DisplayMate for Windows ($69; downloaded), an excellent software-based utility for fine-tuning your display. Cadalyst has used DisplayMate, from Sonera Technologies (www.displaymate.com), for all of its monitor reviews since it first earned our Highly Recommended rating in 1995.

DisplayMate screenshot

Screen shot of the DisplayMate application.

This wraps up this series. We hope you find it helpful when you are shopping for a display. In a future blog, we will take a detailed look at DisplayMate for Windows.

Author: Art Liddle

Choose the Best Display for Your CAD Work, Part 1: Where to Start

September 13, 2011 3 comments

Monitors for CADWhat is the single most important hardware decision for any CAD user? Their choice of display. This is especially true given the short half-life of today’s workstations. You may have to live with your display through two, or even three, different workstation purchases.

Where to Start

First, the biggest factor affecting your choice of display is cost. Please: Do not scrimp on your display budget. If you must cut back on costs, hold off on that extra system memory or hard drive storage (you can upgrade both later).

Second, buy the largest display that fits your budget and quality specifications, as well as workspace. The bare-bones minimum size for even semi-serious CAD work is 24″. If you buy anything smaller, you will regret it every time you execute an extra zoom or pan to get the required view: During the course of a single workday, there might be hundreds of such productivity-killing distractions. We strongly recommend a minimum 27″ display for anyone that works fulltime with CAD.

Third, the transition away from CRT- based displays is complete. Today’s display choices are LCD-based. The newest type of displays, sometimes listed as LED, are really just a type of LCD panel that uses energy-efficient LEDs for the backlight. These present a more pleasing and evenly distributed light to the screen.

Other Things to Consider

Here is a list of other factors, listed roughly by importance, to consider when
shopping for your next display.

  • Resolution: For 24″ class displays the maximum resolution should be at least 1920 pixels across horizontally. At the high end, expect 2560 pixels for 30″ displays—see note below about graphics card.
  • Brightness: Measured in cd/m2 (candelas per square meter), look for a minimum rating of 250, and preferably 300 and above.
  • Contrast: Rating of at least 1000:1 is ideal. (Not to be confused with dynamic contrast, which may be listed as 1,000,000:1 or higher.)
  • Response time: Should be no higher than 8ms; shoot for under 6ms. Some high-end displays now claim 2ms response times.
  • Viewing angle: At least 170° is reasonable. Newer displays now offer 178°.
  • Screen surface: This factor may be more or less important to you, depending on how harsh the light is in your workspace. In general, you will give up some brightness for more glare control.
  • Color depth: Today’s minimum of 24bit (16.7 million colors) is fine for most CAD users.
  • Color Accuracy: Not essential for most of you, unless you are creating drawings or renderings for publication where it is important to match colors for printing.
  • Connection options: Expect at least D-sub and DVI connectors; many new displays now support DisplayPort, the latest video/audio standard.
  • Graphics Card: To ensure that you get the most out of your new purchase, double-check that your graphics card handles the display’s maximum resolution and supports its best available connection option.

Next time, we will finish our discussion on choosing a CAD display, and make a suggestion on how to get the most out of your new purchase.

Author: Art Liddle

Find the Optimal Hardware Configuration for ArchiCAD

August 23, 2011 5 comments

One of the most common questions our tech staff gets from customers is “What is the best hardware config for ArchiCAD?” It’s easy to go overboard and buy the most expensive of everything, but many times less expensive components are almost just as good. The “optimal” configuration is almost as fast as the “best” configuration, with a more attractive price tag.

Let’s review the priorities:

CPU

The processor is still the most important component of your config. Since ArchiCAD supports multiprocessing, we recommend 4-core processors. 6 and 8 cores are significantly more expensive while providing little benefit, so 4-core is the most optimal choice. Pick something from the middle range — prices rise exponentially with performance.

RAM

ArchiCAD supports 64-bit. To see the benefits of this, you need at least 8GB of physical RAM. While most of the times ArchiCAD will use significantly less than this, since RAM is now cheap there is really no reason to economize here. There are times when you will run multiple copies of ArchiCAD or run other applications simultaneously.

Hard Drives

ArchiCAD stores cached data while it operates, so there is a lot of file I/O going on while working in ArchiCAD — not just when saving files. Therefore hard drives are a key — and often overlooked — speed factor. With the price of solid state drives coming down considerably in the past year, they might be a sensible investment. You don’t need a huge SSD. You are better off with a smaller (say 128GB) SSD combined with a large conventional hard drive. You will install the system and ArchiCAD on the SSD, but you will store files on the conventional drive.

Video Cards

ArchiCAD uses hardware acceleration in both 2D and 3D. That said, while the importance of hard drives is often underrated, video cards are often overrated. In general we can say that it is more important to have a recent video card than a particularly high-end video card. It’s not a bad practice to replace the video card at the half of your computer’s lifespan.

When you buy a new card, it’s important to have enough video RAM. We currently recommend 1GB. Drivers are key for optimal performance. If you want to have a peace of mind about drivers, you might consider going with a “professional series” video card — at a much heftier price. You can find a list of recommended cards in our knowledge base.

Monitors

Screen real estate is a huge productivity factor. Here we have only one recommendation: The bigger the better. You can also hook up two monitors, if your video card supports that.

Author: Gergely (Greg) Kmethy, Team Leader, Technical Support, Graphisoft

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