Spatial to help CAD/CAM/CAE software developers take advantage of multiple CPU cores

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Applications running Spatial’s new ACIS thread technology should thrive on multi-core workstations, such as this beast of a machine from HP, the Xeon 5500 Series-based Z800

This is an interesting story for those wondering what to do with all the CPU cores they now have in their workstation. Spatial, who makes 3D development components for design, manufacturing and engineering applications, has added dedicated multi-threaded capabilities to its standard ACIS 3D modeller.

For those that don’t know, ACIS sits at the heart of a wide range of CAD/CAM/CAE applications and while it’s arguably not as popular as Parasolid from Siemens PLM (in terms of the mainstream applications it supports), there is a huge list of supported 3D apps, including IronCAD, SpaceClaim, Moldflow, EdgeCAM, and MSC.Software, to name but a few.

The technology in question is called ACIS thread-safe and according to Spatial, for compute-intensive operations, it delivers near linear performance scaling on multi-core systems. The company claims significant performance gains can be achieved when faceting, sectioning, and performing most ACIS modelling operations which work on multiple independent parts.

With typical software development cycles anywhere from 6-24 months, the tech has yet to appear in any mainstream applications. However, McMaster University has implemented ACIS thread-safe capabilities in both a machining tool path optimizer and a rapid prototyping wall thickness verification program, realizing near 3x speed-up on a quad core computer.

I find it extremely interesting that component builders, such as Spatial are developing multi-threaded code (N.B. Multi-threaded capabilities also exist in Parasolid). With quad core CPUs standard and eight core CPUs over the horizon it’s good to see that developments are under way to use this additional processing power at the heart of our 3D software and not just in peripheral areas of simulation, rendering and CNC toolpath generation.

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