Archive for May, 2012

Dell Releases Four New CAD Workstation Models

May 30, 2012 3 comments

Spring has arrived, and the annual release of new CAD hardware is as dazzling as the blossoms on the trees outside. This season marks new beginnings, and the sense of renewal makes the CADspeed editors feel like digging into the latest releases and watching our hard work grow into something new and spectacular.

We found much to admire in Dell’s latest CAD hardware release, which comprises four new models featuring Intel microarchitecture and eight-core CPUs for multithreaded applications; generation three PCIe I/O support for improved visualization performance with next generation graphics; and up to 512 GB quad-channel memory for running large data sets in memory. They also offer the new NVIDIA Maximus technology, which allows users to run visualization and simulation tasks simultaneously. A range of professional-class graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA is available, up to the AMD FirePro V7900 and NVIDIA Quadro 6000.

Systems are certified to support a variety of high-end design and engineering applications from companies including Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, PTC, Siemens PLM Software, Adobe, and ESRI.

System Specs

The Dell Precision T7600 is the most powerful and expandable workstation in the line, designed for working with massive data sets such as those integral to video, animation, engineering, simulation, and scientific analysis. It reportedly features some of the highest-performing CPU stacks, power supplies, and graphics power for a dual-socket system. It offers as many as two Intel Xeon E5-2687W 150-W processors with a total of 16 computational cores, a 1300-W, 90% efficiency power supply, up to 600 W of graphics, and up to four full x16 graphics slots.

The Dell Precision T5600 is designed for space-constrained environments that need substantial compute capability. The dual-socket workstation is built to support complex 3D modeling, creating film and video content, and performing complex engineering and analysis work. It features up to two Intel Xeon processors, each supporting eight processing cores, 128 GB of quad-channel ECC memory, and two power supply options of 635 W or 825 W.

The Dell Precision T3600 is built to carry mid-range workloads, offering a balance of performance and scalability for mainstream 3D, CAD, computer-aided-manufacturing, and digital content creation. Key features include Intel Xeon processor E5-1600 or E5-2600 family, two power supply options, and up to 64 GB 1600-MHz ECC or non-ECC memory.

The entry-level Dell Precision T1650 is designed for users who don’t need high-end power but understand the benefits and importance of running professional applications on a professional workstation, according to Dell. It will offer certified performance for professionals working with 2D CAD drawings and basic 3D models, editing photos, or developing web content. It will feature next-generation Intel Xeon processors, up to 75 W for graphics and new ISV and graphic certifications.


  • Dell Precision T7600 pricing starts at $2,149
  • Dell Precision T5600 pricing starts at $1,879
  • Dell Precision T3600 pricing starts at $1,099
  • Pricing for the T1650 pricing starts at $649

Author: CADspeed editors

Autodesk 360, Part 1: What Is It and How Does It Work?

May 23, 2012 4 comments

I was fortunate to attend the Autodesk Media Summit in March this year and discover the company’s new cloud initiative, Autodesk 360.

What Is Autodesk 360?

Autodesk 360 is the customer-centric cloud computing solution with a difference. Not only does it act as a cloud storage solution, but also provides CAD software and services based in the cloud to free up your hardware’s processing power. It also allows you to run mobile apps on your enterprise mobile kit, such as tablets and netbooks, even smartphones.

So How Does It All Work?

Getting on to Autodesk 360 is very easy. Go to the URL and all you need to do is get yourself an Autodesk User ID (the usual username and password thing). Once you have an Autodesk ID, you can log on to Autodesk 360 for your FREE 3GB of storage space. Using your Autodesk ID, you can also log on to any other Autodesk ID controlled webpage as well.

The Autodesk 360 front page.

The Autodesk 360 front page.

Once logged in, you can utilize the Autodesk 360 services whatever mobile device you are using: laptop, tablet, phone. Notice the link to AutoCAD WS (the topic of my previous blog series here on CADspeed). Also, as an Autodesk Subscription customer, you gain access to even more 360 services using a credit system, where you buy cloud time on a pay-as-you-go basis. Plus, you get 3GB of storage space, just for signing up.

The Autodesk 360 front page once logged in.

The Autodesk 360 front page once logged in.

The major benefit of Autodesk 360 is that you can access it anywhere you have a connection. So any device with that capability can be used.

I can see Autodesk 360 being a great hit with CAD and project managers who want to “manage” their CAD function. They can see all their drawings and documents in one place and, better still, they can collaborate (using the likes of AutoCAD WS and Design Review) and distribute project documents and drawings (to other Autodesk 360 users). This can be done on something as compact as a tablet like the iPad, or an Android device like the Motorola Xoom.

For the mobile CAD user, laptops are getting smaller and more compact, so full CAD apps can be used in conjunction with Autodesk 360 and with the provision of “heavy” services in the cloud, such as rendering and analysis, it could bring the requirement of a “brick” like laptop to an end!

Autodesk have revolutionized the way we work with Autodesk 360. It will allow us to embrace the mobile CAD movement and let us concentrate on our design and management processes while the cloud does all the heavy lifting for us.

In Part 2, I am going to show some of the functionality of Autodesk 360.

Author: Shaun Bryant

TurboCAD Pro v19 on 64-bit Operating System: A Case Study on Photorealistic 3D Rendering

May 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The release of IMSI TurboCAD Pro v19 this spring marked the first version of this CAD platform available in a 64-bit version. Previous versions of TurboCAD were only available as 32-bit, which limited the use of onboard memory for opening and manipulating large CAD files and for performing memory-intensive functions such as photorealistic rendering. No longer! Now TurboCAD users can experience the full capacity of the 64-bit versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

The Advantages of a 64-Bit Application

The advantage of a 64-bit application working on a 64-bit OS means the program can address up to 48 times more available RAM (memory) than with a 32-bit application.

TurboCAD user Ken Friend has been using desktop CAD to create model kit designs. Initially, Ken used TurboCAD for 2D plans but then quickly evolved in using it for 3D design, taking advantage of the solid modeling capability introduced back in TurboCAD v6.

At that time, he designed a radio-controlled glider, which used an electric motor to take the plane to altitude. Once at altitude the motor would be switched off and the plane would glide back to earth. Ken said that one of the advantages to using TurboCAD at that time was the great way you could design rounded corners (3D fillets) for the fuselage and wings.

Rendering with 64-bit TurboCAD

More recently, Ken has been involved in modeling an ocean liner, the Normandie, with TurboCAD. Ken is making the model as the ship was originally built in the early 1930s. The rendering below of Ken Friend’s cruise ship file (250 MB) was never even able to be opened with previous versions of TurboCAD, let alone rendered!

Model of the Normandie rendered in TurboCAD Pro v19.

Model of the Normandie rendered in TurboCAD Pro v19.

Ken has been working on this modeling project for the past 2 1/2 years. Back in 2009, Ken actually received a third place in one of the first TurboCAD Challenges put on by Don Cheke for an early version of this 1/350 scale model. Ken’s goal is to create a kit that can be sold to modeling hobbyists. Ken’s been able to reduce the size of the model from 250 MB in size to a more manageable 65 MB by converting much of the solid modeling detail to surfaces.

He’s also now taking advantage of advances in 3D printer technology, including the more affordable prices, in order to manufacture the ship’s hull in sections. He hopes in the future to also print out smaller, more detailed components of the ship as well.

3D print model of the Normandie.

3D print model of the Normandie.

With a 64-bit OS and TurboCAD v19, users no longer have to struggle to open large files or see that annoying message in the middle of your rendering that says the system is low on memory and may not be able to complete the operation. Instead, if your system has additional memory, the 64-bit version of TurboCAD Pro will fully utilize it and large drawings will open smoothly and can be edited or rendered without a significant fall-off in performance.

Author: Bob Mayer, Chief Operating Officer, IMSI/Design

Got a CAD Hardware Question? Ask the CADspeed Experts.

May 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Hardware Upgrades for CAD ManagersWant to optimize hardware for 3D CAD applications? Have a question about your CAD hardware? Looking to upgrade? Confused about the options? Here’s your chance to get help from the expert team here at CADspeed.

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