One of the backbones to DEVELOP3D LIVE is our dedicated workstation track, where we look at emerging trends, highlight the ways to get the best performance and look to future proof your investment.
The big focus at the show this year was on the ‘cloud’ and the growing importance of remote workstations. Desktop workstations are still big news but with technologies such as Hosted VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) starting to mature there’s a good chance your next workstation might not be under your desk. Check out the following presentations to find out more.
Rob Jamieson , AMD FirePro. Workstations and the cloud
Our first speaker, Rob Jamieson, from AMD FirePro, took on the difficult job of explaining to attendees the big picture and the finer, lesser-known nuances of ‘the cloud’.
We live in a ‘now’ society where many things are online and accessible from wherever you have a phone signal or an internet connection.
The cloud looks to keep you and your teams connected to valuable data as they move geographic locations.
By hosting the data centrally and streaming applications and content, it’s possible to always have your designs at your fingertips, be able to share data and run powerful analysis remotely from a phone.
In principle this sounds great but as of yet this is far from reality.
In his talk Rob explores the various incarnations of cloud, in three configurations: Hosted VDI, transaction-based and private cloud (intranet or VPN).
The concept of a centrally accessed application that is not on your desktop is still a relatively formative idea and one that it appears that Autodesk is furthest along providing.
However the UK specifically may have issues with cloud applications that require bandwidth, as the current infrastructure is not yet capable of providing the Internet speed required for a number of simultaneous connections.
Rob looks at what each of the major CAD developers is working on and explains the relevance of GPU performance on the emerging VDI-based solutions.
Rob also shared his top tips and tricks on making your desktop workstation run faster and this presentation can be seen here.
Rik Thwaites, Dell. Remote workstations
Rik Thwaites builds on Rob Jamieson’s presentation and focuses on the advantage of a ‘VDI’-based implementation of workstations to assist a firm’s data security.
We have all recently read in the news about organised teams of hackers that are charged with the task of stealing Intellectual Property from competitive firms and governments.
As we now work in distributed teams all over the world the replication of company confidential information increases the risk of that data falling into the wrong hands.
Rik looks at how remotely accessing centrally hosted rack workstations can enable firms to keep control of data replication and protect IP, even when working with subcontractors.
The solution has the additional benefits of removing fan noise and heat from design studios and simplyfying IT deployments and support.
While the hardware is in the data centre, the monitor, mouse and keyboard can be anywhere in the world.
The graphics are compressed, encrypted and sent to the user’s monitor within miliseconds and the mouse and keyboard data is sent back.
All that ever gets sent is pixels, the original data is totally secure.
Even though these machines may be rack mounted, it’s still possible to configure them with a range of standard graphics cards and hardware components, enabling dedicated workstations to run specific CAD software.
Rik also explains that this VDI solution offers some interesting ways to maximise the CAD licenses you have among your many users. Watch it here to find out!
Greg Corke, DEVELOP3D. Benchmarking workstations
Bringing things back to the desktop, DEVELOP3D’s very own resident workstation expert, Greg Corke, took to the stage to talk about choosing the right workstation with the help of CAD application-based benchmarking.
All too often, people choose hardware based on results from mainstream benchmarks which have little to no bearing on how a workstation will perform with a 3D design tool.
For example, games, which are high on textures and low on geometry, stress a completely different part of a graphics card to CAD, which is all about the geometry.
Greg provides recommendations on how to test your own workstations with real world CAD benchmarks, focusing on the constituent parts including CPUs, GPUs and Solid State Drives (SSDs).
He also explaims how he tests workstations at DEVELOP3D, the results of which are well respected within the industry.
Indeed, DEVELOP3D was recently invited by independent benchmark specialist, SPEC.org, to submit officially endorsed workstation results for SolidWorks and PTC Creo.
All of Greg’s workstation reviews and benchmark results are available online at develop3d.com/workstations
We are currently organising DEVELOP3D LIVE 2014 which will host another session of workstation presentations. In the coming months we will be taking a closer look at Dell and AMD workstation hardware which will also be on display at the event, together with emerging hardware issues as the cloud draws closer.
Efrain Rovira, Dell. Future hardware strategies
We were also fortunate to have Efrain Rovira, the man in charge of Dell Precision Workstations worldwide give a talk on the mainstage during DEVELOP3D LIVE.
Efrain talked about the company’s next generation of workstations and focussed on innovations in Dell’s optimisation tools for CAD workstations.
Specifically, an auto-tuning tool that the company has developed to adjust all the parameters within Dell Precision workstations to create tailored hardware profiles, per application, to get the best possible performance when each application is launched.
This has now been launched under the name of Dell Precision performance Optimizer.
Click here for a closer look, where the software is reviewed alongside Dell’s new compact Precision T1700 SFF workstation.
DEVELOP3D LIVE 2014
Plans are already underway for next year’s event, which will take place on Tuesday April 15, 2014. Registration will open later this year.
In the meantime check out many of the other talks from DEVELOP3D LIVE 2012 and 2013 here.
Why you should be looking into remote workstations and VDI