Original Post by By Tom Lansford | Published: May 23, 2014
PTC developers add features to each product release: new functions, improved usability, and – not to be neglected – optimized product performance. Performance increases mean exploiting the latest capabilities of workstation hardware. Here is how PTC Creo takes advantage of the latest hardware and graphics technology.
Many paths to productivity
There are many paths to increasing productivity from one generation of PTC Creo to another. Just a few examples are:
- improving in-program workflows
- reducing response times
- increased accuracy and fidelity
- improving work processes
These paths to productivity may be completely within the control of PTC developers. Often, however, productivity enhancements to PTC Creo result from changes in workstations and workstation technology.
Taking advantage of technology from the workstation graphics can provide an order-of-magnitude increase in performance and also address more than one of the above paths to improved productivity. One example is the change made to transparent model display in PTC Creo.
Transparent display mode can be effective because it allows the user to see relationships easily in a complex assembly. Using the traditional method for a transparent display mode is time-consuming because it requires sorting the 3D geometry from the user’s point of view. And new sorting is needed every time the point of view changes. This introduces extra computing overhead and slows down the responsiveness of the system.
The display of transparent 3D models in PTC Creo 2.0 was updated to use features in the professional graphics hardware. By using the graphics processing unit (GPU), the PTC developers were able to move from a transparency display mode that involved pre-sorting the 3D data to a GPU-accelerated transparency display method.
The PTC development team worked with the AMD graphics team to implement this function using the GPU. Leveraging the GPU means that PTC Creo can skip the sorting step when drawing each new transparent image which saves a lot of time. Instead, the 3D geometry and the correct transparent view is managed using the specialized hardware of the GPU.
This particular optimization delivers a double-benefit. It can more than double the performance of the transparent display mode. Depending on the size of the 3D model and the power of the GPU, performance can be two to six times faster. The user benefits by having a more responsive system.
Additionally, using the GPU provides a more accurate, high-fidelity, transparent image. The traditional method suffers an aliasing effect which displays incorrect artifacts. But the GPU-accelerated display provides pixel-accurate images, and as a result it is more accurate and faster. Above, there are artifacts in the transparent rendering of the car seats using the traditional rendering method on the left, and on the right, the transparent rendering of the car seats is correct.
Through this single change, PTC made a very useful modeling display mode, transparency, more accurate and faster. And that makes the feature more useful for customers.
PTC Creo performance scales with workstation performance
The performance data for the GPU-accelerated display mode above scales with the performance of the graphics system. PTC Creo performance, in general, improves with faster GPUs. Data on PTC Creo 2.0 benchmarks from NVIDIA show how performance increases with faster graphics systems.
While faster application performance with faster graphics performance seems like “the way it should work”, this doesn’t happen by accident and not all CAD applications scale well with graphics performance. The performance data shows how PTC developers have created a system which leverages the technology in the workstation.
More graphics memory, more performance
PTC implemented additional graphics performance with a specific OpenGL feature called Vertex Buffer Object or VBO. What is important about VBO and how it makes PTC Creo faster is that the geometry of your model is stored in the graphics memory. That allows the graphics card to render your model directly without the need to send the 3D geometry to the GPU every time you move the model.
The user benefits from this optimization are seen best with large, non-trivial models. In other words, precisely when the user needs the more performance, the new version of PTC Creo will provide it. The data shows up to four times the 3D performance with PTC Creo 2.0 when compared to PTC Wildfire 5.0.
Product releases are more than new features
PTC releases product updates regularly and when it comes to productivity, it is not just about some new feature set. Yes, new features and capabilities are critical. Productivity, however, comes from, improving in-program workflows, reducing response times, increased accuracy and fidelity and improving work processes.
As I describe above, productivity in all four areas come in part from PTC’s attention to new workstation and graphics capabilities. Better graphics performance can improve in-program workflows, increase the fidelity of the 3D image, and improve system responsiveness.