While the high-end studio-based 3D market remains a struggling area for Apple’s Mac OS X platform–due largely both to hardware inflexibility and a lack of specialized applications rather than anything inherent in OS X–both the low and high-end CAD, MCAD, BIM and CAID (computer-aided industrial design) markets are thriving on the OS X platform. Every year new cutting edge and leading edge tools appear on the platform in full Aqua-complaint native OS X code. Besides a growing OS X installed based, now over 56 million, what makes this progress possible are key new foundational tools for OS X developers.
Redway 3D – More 3D APIs
CAD and 3D applications need foundational technology, generally, from third-party developers for things like a geometry modeling kernel or a photorealistic rendering kernel (often referred to as an API or library). One of the most popular 3D rendering APIs (application programming interface) toolkits is from UK-based Lightworks. On the modeling geometry kernel side the equation, the OS X platform has leading industry technology such as Spatial’s ACIS, Siemens’ Parasolid, IntegrityWare’s SOLIDS++ and others.
The photographic rendering kernel side of the equation looks even better than the modeling kernel side, if that is possible. Besides LightWorks’s, leading rendering engines powering the vast majority of professional CAD and 3D applications worldwide today include native versions for OS X. This means everything from excellent newcomers like Luxion, Luxology’s modo, Next Limit’s Maxwell to veteran rendering engines like CINEMA 4D, mental ray and Pixar’s fabulous RenderMan are all on the Mac.
So it clearly makes sense that if you are going to produce an all-purpose GPU and CPU bound graphics API toolkit for CAD and 3D applications that you would fully include OS X today. Indeed, that is what has transpired with Redway 3D, a company we only recently took notice of.
Redway 3D Kit
Redway 3D is a French-based company with strong ties to France’s industrial giant Dassault Systemes. The Paris-based middleware maker already has excellent customers on its roster with the likes of IMSI Design and Airbus and strong partnerships in AMD, NVIDIA and Dell.
What was interesting to us about learning about Redway 3D is that they have a single C++ API for both 3D and 2D real-time acceleration. Redway 3D is today at version 3.2 and it was version 3.1 which came out last year which brought support for the Mac. At that time we had not heard of this company nor its adoption into any OS X applications. Even IMSI Design’s TurboCAD line-up appears to utilize it only with its Windows-based solutions.
The latest 3.2 release of the API features a new driver-based editor tool, new Vectorized Hidden Line Removal (HLR), new physical sky and sun model and new physical lights. Windows 8 is now supported along with older versions of Windows, OS X (64-bit) and Linux distros. To learn more about Redway 3d go here.
Architosh Analysis: We will certainly follow this company’s developments closely. Interestingly, Lightworks’ latest iRay+ technology is GPU-bounded and leverages NVIDIA technology called iray. With Lightworks’ announcement in particular many more CAD and 3D applications on the Mac are going to get GPU-based acceleration expanding upon the specific tools in the market that based their approach on the GPU. With CPU’s packing so many cores–and growing–these days, we see a trend emerging where API’s will target both GPU and CPU in a hybrid approach, as Redway 3d does.