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OpenCL Will Rock the CAD World, Part 1: Why You Want It

May 18, 2011 8 comments

OpenCLMost CAD users don’t have any reason to be familiar with how graphics languages like OpenGL 4 and DirectX 11 actually work. All that 99% of us care about is that our CAD applications and video cards support the latest versions so we can benefit from high-performance 2D/3D rendering and visualization.

In some ways the new OpenCL compute language isn’t any different. You don’t need to know anything about the inner workings to use it. You just know you want your hardware and software to support it.

On the other hand, OpenCL is a disruptive technology that will jostle market leaders and significantly alter hardware price/performance ratios. So it is worth learning what it does, where it will have the biggest impact and how you can benefit.

Why Do We Need a Compute Language for the CAD World? 

Answer: Increasing model complexity

  • Nowadays automotive models can contain up to 50,000 parts with 10 to 20 GB of data.  The number of triangles can reach 40,000,000 polygons/model.
  • In the mid-1970s a typical model of an automobile chassis had 5,752 node points,
    2108 finite elements and 28,924 degrees of freedom. Today, a typical model of
    an automobile chassis has 12 million node points, 7.2 million elements and 35
    million degrees of freedom.
  • In 2009 a computational fluid dynamics simulation of a racing yacht design
    required a mesh of over 1 billion cells.

Simply put, model complexity is growing exponentially and faster than the ability of
our desktop or laptop machines to easily crunch the data (without running as
hot as the core of a supernova).

The next post in this series will discuss how OpenCL works.

Author: Tony DeYoung

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