FASTER VIEWPORT RENDERING IS ALWAYS a good thing. According to experts who develop mice technology for the CAD industries, the average 3D or CAD user clicks a mouse 3,000 plus times a day. And any CAD or 3D user will tell you a substantial amount of those mouse clicks are for driving pan and zoom functions to get focused precisely on the objects being manipulated.
Economics of Viewports
CAD, 3D, and BIM users are all familiar with waiting for the screen to redraw. One simply cannot do the next operation until the screen has refreshed. Earlier this year, a Boston-area Autodesk reseller told me that the cumulative sum of wait times—that is adding up all the tiny slices of time—for screen redraws totaled between 30 – 45 minutes per day. Architosh’s own test-based estimates have been closer to 20 – 30 minutes per day, so for the below exercise, we will take 30 minutes a day.
If we divide the total economic revenue generation per architect in say my firm, where I am an associate principal, the value of 1 minute a day is approximately USD 2.00. On a weekly basis, 30 minutes is worth USD 300. For a staff of 10 architects? USD 3,000. And for that year for that staff of 10? USD 168,000. That is a significant amount of money. 30 minutes a day of wait time is 1/16th of total production time (assuming 8 hours per day).
So taking essentially 6.25 percent of all time applied to the total production in a firm and applying that to annual revenues, the amount is very meaningful. If a firm of 20 generates annual revenues of USD 4 million per year, 6.25 percent is USD 250,000.
The value creation opportunity for accelerating workflows so that cumulative wait times shrink is clearly there. The reason why 3D and CAD professionals don’t seem to feel that understanding is because they don’t do just one operation per day and wait for 30 minutes; they do 3,000 plus clicks per day accounting for a thousand plus operations per day—waiting noticeable seconds to even a minute for the next function to be executable.
Imagine if every architect’s workstation took 30 minutes to launch every morning. That would be stunning, right? That would truly have management frustrated with the economic madness of such a situation. Simply stretching that much time out over the day across thousands of operations seems to make it vanish. But it really isn’t gone.
The economic argument for investing in accelerating your graphics on-screen has just been laid out for you. For those readers doing photo-realistic rendering most of their day, that 30 minutes per day might look ridiculously low. You already know the reality of long wait times. As architects and designers working in BIM get more involved in raytracing photo-realistic rendering workflows, their daily wait times are increasing, not decreasing.
Visually-dynamic viewport workflows demand more GPU resources, and often these are the same scenarios where users may observe lower frame rates, stuttering, and a lack of real-time interactivity.
Working in OpenGL views and now including real-time raytracing into your BIM workflows is undoubtedly going to increase wait time. This is why AMD’s Viewport Boost technology is so important and while we will go over it in some detail in a moment.
In short, AMD’s Viewport Boost technology is designed to help speed up the interaction experience when moving around real-time rendered 3D or BIM models. “Visually-dynamic viewport workflows demand more GPU resources,” says Jamie Gwilliams, Senior Business Development Manager, AMD, “and often these are the same scenarios where users may observe lower frame rates, stuttering, and a lack of real-time interactivity.”
What Viewport Boost technology does is intelligently recognize these scenarios and adjust the viewport resolution in real-time to improve responsiveness with minimal perceptible visual impact on image quality.
So if a BIM or 3D user is actively engaged with real-time rendering in tools like Twinmotion, for example, Viewport Boost will smartly drop the resolution down to up to 50 percent in order to keep interactively very high and immediately responsive. The user has full control to set the minimum dynamic resolution the application viewport will drop to. Stuttering, stalling, and otherwise clearly waiting are all forms of user experience (UX) wait times.
Real App Workflows
AMD’s Viewport Boost technology is turned on via the AMD Radeon Pro drivers associated with AMD’s Radeon Pro GPUs for Windows systems. Viewport Boost does not apply to the new Radeon Pro 6000 series cards for Apple’s Mac Pro. This is not because of graphics APIs or underlying operating systems, but rather selecting applications that can benefit the most from it.
In Revit 2022 and newer, we’ve found that maxing out visual settings, including enablement of transparency, can create GPU-limited scenarios that benefit from Viewport Boost.
AMD’s Viewport Boost technology is strongly aimed at AEC workflows. These include Autodesk Revit (BIM), Autodesk 3ds Max, and Epic’s Twinmotion (real-time, interactive rendering). It also works in Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 (for DirectX 11 projects only).
In our review of the AMD Radeon Pro W6600 GPU, we tested this feature via Twinmotion file testing. We were curious how it can impact tools like Revit which are so CPU-bound. Jamie Gwilliams of AMD explained it this way: “In Revit 2022 and newer, we’ve found that maxing out visual settings, including enablement of transparency, can create GPU-limited scenarios that benefit from Viewport Boost.”
Gwilliams told Architosh that Viewport Boost technology is a pure software-delivered feature, which is why it works with all Radeon Pro GPUs, not just the latest 6000 series. “We’re really excited about expanding Viewport Boost support. Soon we will be expanding support to newer versions of Autodesk Revit and 3ds Max,” says Gwilliams. “We’re eager to look into support for more applications in the future.”
AMD’s Return on Investment
AMD’s Viewport Boost technology shows that the company is innovating in clever ways to maximize the accelerating potential of GPUs. Recall I said that a Boston Autodesk reseller said the average wait time was closer to 45 minutes per day. For really large BIM projects and complex models, when Revit settings are fully maximized for visual fidelity, waiting up to 60 minutes a day is fully possible. But with Viewport Boost, every single pan, zoom, walk-through—any kind of acceleration of the model relative to the viewport camera—is intelligently degraded in resolution just enough to make the viewport instantly reactive and responsive.
So what might that be worth in dollars and cents?
If the average Revit user is waiting 45 minutes per day for screen redrawing to complete (the point at which the user can take immediate interaction with any new function), at USD 2.00 per minute, that amounts to USD 90 per day or USD 25,200 per year. It is difficult to pinpoint what percentage Viewport Boost can capture back in total time, but even an extremely modest 5 percent gain back is still worth over a thousand dollars.
In closing, BIM, CAD, and 3D users cannot take action until the screen has finished redrawing from the last action. We pan and zoom incessantly between each command, getting our viewpoint on our objects set up first before our commands. What Viewport Boost is doing is keeping your workflow fluid by taking away the stalls and stutters and thereby reducing total wait time every day. It is a unique technology designed specifically for AEC pain points and one that pairs wonderfully with AMD’s latest market-leading workstation GPUs—like the Radeon Pro W6800 shown above—GPUs that as we have noted before, provide market-leading performance for the dollar.
To learn more about AMD Viewport Boost go here.