Issue No.04 - July/August (2009 vol.29)
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MCG.2009.74
This article looks at new hardware and software products and tools related to computer graphics.
3D Real-Time Rendering
Lumiscaphe's Patchwork3D, a postmodeling software tool for industrial CAD, complements existing CAD systems on Windows PCs. Users can import 3D shapes designed with their traditional CAD systems. Interactive testing and visualizing various combinations of shapes, materials, and lighting in real time helps speed up product design, reducing costs over time, according to the company. Lumiscaphe's rendering technology allows real-time editing of visual characteristics such as covering materials (selection of grain and its fineness, colors and textures, transparency and refraction, and reflectivity), complex scene illumination, and 2D unfolding of complex 3D surfaces for fabric simulation.
Patchwork3D accommodates two levels of expertise. Beginners can access basic functions for handling 3D objects, and experts can access advanced functions for aspect tuning of sophisticated shapes and materials. According to the company, the workflow brings 3D CAD models to life via several elementary operations: importing and cleaning up CAD models, improving and optimizing geometry, unfolding complex surfaces for texture mapping, illuminating and dressing models with photorealistic lights and materials, and presenting the models using 3D real-time realistic rendering.
Patchwork3D is applicable to those working in domains incorporating industrial design, such as automotive design, aerospace, parts manufacturing, household appliances, furniture, sporting goods and toys, 3D special effects, and landscapes for illustrations or film.
For more information, visit www.lumiscaphe.com.
Unleash Audio Power
GenAudio's AstoundStereo Expander Version 2.0 enhances the sound in games, music, and movies on Macintoshes and Windows PCs. The software operates as a background processor for stereo audio playback, regardless of the media content, and can process audio in real time from any application. The Expander is derived from GenAudio's AstoundSound 4D software-based technology, which immerses listeners in a 360-degree, spherical soundscape that mimics the sound of real life, according to the company.
You can download a 30-day free trial or a free music track processed in AstoundStereo at www.astoundstereo.com.
New Tools in 3ds Max 2010
Autodesk's 3ds Max 2010 software has nearly 350 more features than the previous version, including a render-quality viewpoint display. It also offers more than 100 graphite and texturing tools.
A new material explorer simplifies how users interact with objects and materials, according to Autodesk. A multithreaded xView mesh analyzer helps reduce errors through in-viewport reporting on several types of mesh to ensure that the assets are correct. For example, xView can identify missing UVW coordinates, overlapping vertices, or open edges.
This version integrates Mental Images' Mental Mill technology, letting users develop, test, and maintain hardware-agnostic shaders and complex shader graphs for hardware and software rendering with real-time visual feedback. Enhanced OBJ file format support and ProOptimizer technology provide better interoperability with Autodesk Mudbox software, according to the company.
The 3ds Max 2010 software package includes the features offered in the Creative Extension for 3ds Max 2009, which was released in August 2008. A 3ds Max 2010 license costs US$3,495.
For more information, visit www.autodesk.com.
MediaShow Espresso converts digital video for playback on portable devices such as the iPod, iPhone, or Sony PSP at high speeds with excellent quality, according to Nvidia. By accessing the CUDA parallel-processing architecture inside Nvidia GPUs, MediaShow Espresso speeds up video encoding and reduces the time needed to convert high-definition video for use on portable media players, says Nvidia.
For more information, visit www.nvidia.com.
Video Editing Made Easy
Super LoiLoScope Mars makes editing high-definition movies accessible to the average consumer, creating movie files up to 10 times faster than CPU-powered encoders and lowering the cost of a PC powerful enough to edit high-definition content, according to LoiLo.
The company claims that Super LoiLoScope Mars has an intuitive, easy-to-understand user interface that lets aspiring movie makers create movies regardless of their technical knowledge. The software package includes GPU-accelerated H.264 encoding, accelerated movie output with Nvidia CUDA-enabled GPUs, editing and playback of AVCHD movies at full high-definition resolution, output of multiple movies at once, a new interface for saved projects, faster image editing, a search button for original files of thumbnails, support for nine languages, and support for the MP4, iPod, PSP, AVCHD, mp4 for Blu-ray, and YouTube HD movie formats.
For more information or to download a free trial version, visit http://loilo.tv.
Quadro FX 4800 for Mac
Nvidia brings the Quadro FX 4800 graphics card to Mac Pro users. According to Nvidia, the Quadro FX 4800 boosts graphics performance and capabilities, letting users advance their work in such fields as architecture, content creation, science, and medicine.
The Quadro FX 4800 GPU for Mac dynamically allocates computing, geometry, shading, and pixel processing power. The card offers a 1.5-Gbyte frame buffer and memory bandwidth up to 76.8 Gbytes per second to deliver high throughput for interactive visualization of large models, high performance for real-time processing of large textures and frames, and high-quality resolution with full-scene antialiasing, says Nvidia. The card also includes a dedicated three-pin mini-DIN connector for stereo-glasses support and up to two dual-link DVI (Digital Visual Interface) connectors.
According to the company, the card's CUDA parallel-computing architecture increases application performance to enhance creative expression in video, animation, photography, and production. In addition, through Apple Boot Camp, users can access native Quadro GPU accelerated professional Windows 3D graphics performance and features.
The Nvidia Quadro FX 4800 GPU for Mac retails for US$1,799. For more information, visit www.nvidia.com/quadro.
16-Processor Workstation for Windows XP and Vista
The 1 Beyond HexDFlex is a 16-processor professional video workstation that runs Windows XP and Vista applications. Suited to handle processor-intensive formats and tasks, the 1 Beyond HexDFlex improves the editorial and finishing process of RED-originated projects, according to 1 Beyond. It can edit native RED.R3D footage at 2K resolution in real time and switch to a native 4K finish without moving or transcoding native video. Rendering is unnecessary until the final deliverable, and final rendering times are shortened, claims the company.
Users can transfer from CompactFlash, RED-Drive, or RED-RAM using the 1 Beyond Wrangler, transport the data on a 1Beyond GoHDCart, read data using the 1 Beyond Wrangler Reader, edit on the 1 Beyond HexDFlex, store on the 1 Beyond EzHDSAN, and archive using a built-in LTO (Linear Tape-Open) drive.
The HexDFlex accommodates up to 288 Gbytes of memory and 18 Tbytes of internal high-performance storage. Options include Adobe CS4, Avid Media Composer, Iridas SpeedGrade, or Grass Valley Edius, and certified hardware including Avid MoJo DX, BlackMagic, AJA, and Matrox Axio.
The 1 Beyond HexDFlex, fully configured for high-end video production, costs US$9,995. For more information, visit 1Beyond.com.
Tesla GPUs in Dell Workstations
Nvidia's Tesla C1060 GPU is now available on Dell Precision R5400, T5500, and T7500 workstations. According to Nvidia, this technology can give computational researchers their own "personal supercomputer"—the equivalent computing power of a cluster, at 1/100th of the price.
The Tesla C1060 is based on the massively parallel, many-core Tesla processor, which is coupled with the standard CUDA C programming environment to simplify many-core programming, says Nvidia. It's capable of 933 Gflops per second and comes with 4 Gbytes of GDDR3 memory at 102 Gbytes per second bandwidth.
For more information on the Tesla C1060, visit www.nvidia.com/object/tesla_computing_solutions. For information on Dell Precision workstations, visit www.dell.com.