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Siggraph Highlights for Mac Users – Part 6

Architosh’s continuing coverage of Siggraph 2008 news continues with this report as we look at additional highlights and note some new Mac software for 3D that is new to the community.


SMLib at Siggraph

Solid Modeling Solutions provides advanced NURBS-based geometry software libraries sometimes called modeling kernels or engines. The company serves software application developers and one of its best known OEM clients is Nemetschek North America, the makers of VectorWorks. Essentially SMLib is made up of a small elite team of PhD level geniuses in the field of software engineering and mathematics, whose backgrounds include such places as Boeing and leading universities such as MIT. The company was likely at Siggraph for both professional and OEM client reasons. SMLib products are not for end-users but end-users may be interested to learn which modeling kernel technology drives their favorite CAD and 3D applications.


Another modeling kernel provider who was at Siggraph wasIntegrityWare. IntegrityWare’s modeling kernel is behind such applications as Autodesk 3ds Max, Viz and Robert McNeel & Associates’ Rhino. Since Rhino is coming to the Mac and there is a current working advanced beta we assume it is based on the same modeling kernel and therefore IntegrityWare’s software libraries for NURBS and polygon modeling are fully OS neutral libraries. Architoshwill confirm this in a later report in September focused on kernel discussion.


Also at Siggraph this year was a company called RapidMind. Another technology company that serves other tech companies rather than end-users,RapidMind first came to our attention at Siggraph Boston two years ago. They were exhibiting in the IBM booth at that time. 

RapidMind and AMD jointly demonstrated real-time medical imagery application at Siggraph this year. RapidMind is the maker of the award-winning RapidMind Multi-Core Development Platform, a series of API’s (application programming interfaces) available to software developers who wish to speed up their applications specifically on multi-core processors.

RapidMind’s API technology can accelerate such things as real-time ray tracing, image reconstruction for the medical industry, intensive image processing in the graphics industry and fluid simulation and computation in gaming, science and animation entertainment industries.


RapidMind API Stack

RapidMind API Stack


RapidMind’s API sits as a layer between the underlying hardware and OS and the end-user application. Developers can focus on investing in single-threaded application development and let the RapidMind technology take care of “parallelizing” the application across multiple cores.

The API integrates with C++, requires no new tools, compilers or workflow changes. It leverages AMD and Intel Multi-Core x86 microprocessors and even utilizes GPUs. It also supports the IBM Cell processor used in the IBM Cell Blade server and Sony PlayStation 3 as well as select Cell-based workstations from IBM, Sony and Mercury.

RapidMind runs on Mac OS X 10.5 or better as well as flavors of Windows and Linux. Compatible compilers include Microsoft Visual C++ 7-8, GCC 4 under Linux and Xcode under Mac OS X. A case-study in a QuickTime moviedemonstrates the performance gain using RapidMind.

Most of this page has focused on tools underlying the applications in CAD and 3D that matter to us. This last entry in our Highlights series is from a company behind a lot of products that matter to Mac users.

LightWork Design at Siggraph

LightWork Design is the world leader in rendering software engine technology, used in a vast array of leading Mac CAD and 3D applications. This year the company used Siggraph to introduce LightWorks SE (Studio Edition) and LightWorks 7.9. Key new features in version 7.9 include:

  • Ambient Occlusion – adds intelligent predictable ambient light to images for greater depth and realism
  • New Complex Reflectance Shaders – targeted at the generation of a wider range of realistic material effects; new color and reflectance shaders include Glossy Reflections and Frosted Glass, Enhanced Car Paint, Plastics and Metallic effects
  • CgFX – Extends the number of effects in real-time rendering with external CgFX materials
  • Specular Final Gather – refined to concentrate work dependent on the properties of a material: the smoother the surface, the less work will be spent calculating specular Final Gather results, yielding faster rendering times

LightWork Design also demonstrated a new Progressive Rendering technology currently under development. The company is running quarterly rendering contests. See the submissions here.

Reader Comments

  1. RapidMind appears to be very promising technology when you look at what types of performance boosts some sample users are getting out of it. Based on Biplab’s comments in a recent interview (search for Dr. Sarkar) on site at left it appears that many legacy apps (ie: older Mac graphics applications going back into the 80’s and 90’s) will not be ideal candidates for RapidMind. So what Mac apps might be good candidates? Does anyone know of one? Are you a developer contemplating this path towards multi-threading your app?

Comments are closed.


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