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michael john williams

VW 2008 and threads

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I was in the pub last night, discussing software, boring I know, but my friend asked if VW 2008 was more than a single thread software. He said that most current software comes multi-threaded to make best use of dual core or quad core. Now sorry if I have not got the termology right [or even the spelling] but as I have a dual core pc if VW 2008 used both processors then things would be done quicker.

So is VW 2008 multi core?

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RenderWorks supports multi-processors.

The core functionality of VW would likely not see noticeable speed improvements with multi-processor support due to the nature of those types of computer operations.

I don't know if I would go so far as to say most software supports multi-processors, or at least takes advantage of multi-processors.

If the statement was to state that programs run on computers with multi-processors, then yes. But if the statement was to state that programs take advantage of multi-processors, I find a small population of programs actually do this.

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Intel is working hard to teach programmers how to address multiple cores.

Logically, the vast abundance of legacy code precludes most programs from

taking advantage of the latest multi-core architectures.

With this knowledge chipmakers have concentrated on reducing the scale,

shortening the bus and increasing the clock. But these fixes also increase the need for power, and introduce various capacitance inefficiencies involving heat displacements. Hence the need for multi-core designs to handle the multi-threads.

Build it and they will ... come ... sooner or later ... but at the moment the station is empty ... and the lites are dimmed to save energy.

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When I was buying VW I heard that Renderworks was muti-core capable. I took this to mean that all types of rendering provided with Renderworks would use multiple processors if they were present.

Upon further investigation, it appears that only "Renderworks" rendering takes advantage of multiple processors. NONE of the other rendering options (Hidden, line, artistic, ray-tracing, etc.) will use more than one processor.

While I'd agree that most of the "drafting" or non-rendering work done in VW wouldn't wouldn't be significantly improved by multiple processors, the non-Renderworks rendering processes WOULD see a significant improvement. I've been doing a fair amount of hidden line rendering and it could certainly use a speed boost.

Katie, is my statement about what is and isn't multi-core capable in VW correct? If so, is NNA working on making other parts of VW multi-processor aware?

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I think NNA should support Xgrid too. Render farms at very little cost to either NNA or NNA Mac customers! It's the way of the future.

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All RenderWorks rendering modes take advantage of dual-processors. Open GL, Hidden Line, and the polygonal rendering options are not part of RenderWorks and come standard with all versions of VectorWorks.

I'll see what I can find out about the other rendering modes. I suspect the computing processes used for these differs greatly from the RenderWorks engine, and they fall in line with the core computing processes of the program, whereby these modes would not see a significant or noticeable speed improvement with multi-processor support.

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Here's the skinny:

With VW 2008, there were a number of speed improvements to Hidden Line rendering, even in single processors.

And, as I suspected, we would not experience as much of a speed improvement as we do with RenderWorks when rendering in these other modes due to the computing construction of Hidden Line rendering.

It is a more straightforward process to engineer RenderWorks as a dual processor support rendering engine than it is to do the same with other core rendering engines.

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I just did a quick test and the ONLY rendering modes that take advantage of my second processor are Fast Renderworks, Fast Renerworks with Shadows and Final Quality Renderworks

All other rendering modes (including Artistic Renderworks, Radiocity, etc.) do NOT appear to be taking advantage of my second processor.

I find it hard to believe that I wouldn't see a performance improvement by enabling those other rendering modes to use multiple processors.

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While multithreading could be a significant performance improvement, NNA has a finite number of programmers each with a finite amount of time, so everything has to be prioritized. Writing multi-threaded programming is challenging to write and even more challenging to debug, and until fairly recently would only benefit a relatively small number of users, while risking adding bugs and perhaps even slowing the code for the remaining users. So other improvements took priority. With dual core, quad core, and even eight core machines becoming more common, NNA will probably consider raising the priority of making multi threaded code.

Before that, however, it's best to see if there are improvements that can be made that don't require multiprocessing, as those will benefit everybody. Hidden line, for example, was significantly optimized for VW2008.

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NNA's reasoning often baffles me and I always clash heads with this type of attitude. When I used RenderWorks exclusively, they said not a lot of users wanted enhanced features so they never spent a lot of time developing RenderWorks-instead of fighting them I moved to C4D. I just cannpt understand why NNA does not move forth with new technology but insist on keeping with old technology.

The future is Multi-Cores. I don't understand the statement about small number of users would benefit from multipl-core. Where does NNA get their stats from? Since when do people NOT want more speed. If this was the case, people would still be working with 486 computers. Everthing nowadays is about speed and other software companies are always looking to get every once of speed they can. Hidden line rendering can be substantially improved if it was multi-core compliant. Some of VectorWorks' other 2D commands could also be improved with this as well.

This is what I mean about VectorWorks' potential being great but issues and reasoning like this, seems to hold this software back.

Anyway, not sure whether this would count but that's my rant. :)

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