while Sun Microsystems "will introduce faster and higher-performance processors across our product family," says Sun's Jamie Enns.
All this extra power will help bring analysis and optimization to the desktop as an integral part of the design process, according to Bruce Jenkins at Daratech, a Cambridge, MA, market-research firm. In addition, high speeds will spur work on more sophisticated CAD-software interfaces--everything from embedded multi-media to virtual reality.
The game of 'leapfrog' in processing speeds has been joined by fierce competition in the graphics arena, Jenkins adds. "We have seen very strong offerings by Hewlett-Packard, Sun, and IBM," he says--all going after Silicon Graphics. The result: a continued string of graphics announcements in '95.
New power-management chip designs will bring ever more powerful performance to notebook and laptop computers. "Engineers want to do CATIA on the plane, or AutoCAD," says Deep Kaul, mechanical CAD workstation manager at IBM for RISC 6000 workstations. Manufacturers are already announcing notebook PCs using Intel's powerful Pentium processor, while IBM, Motorola, and Apple say they will unveil a low-power version of the PowerPC chip for portable computing.
Engineers can also expect a blurring of the line between personal computers and workstations--especially as the Windows NT operating system becomes more prominent on both types of platforms. "NT will greatly increase price competition among traditional UNIX vendors," Jenkins says. "Adoption of NT has been slow, but Microsoft is just starting to concentrate on the technical markets."
Software: Improving with ease
Deana Colucci, New Products Editor
The year 1995 will accelerate the trend toward making software more accessible and easier to use for design engineers. Gisela Wilson, manager of the CAD/CAE/CAM Program at IDC, Framingham, MA, notes that companies are making ease-of-use a priority.
A prime example: the new edition of SDRC's Master Series, scheduled for release in the first quarter of '95. It reportedly includes major enhancements in graphics capabilities.
Meanwhile, several other companies have taken steps in this same direction. For instance, Parametric Technology Corp. will carve out a new middle-ground market for CAD users. Early in '95, the company will release a subset of its high-end ProENGINEER product that could retail for $8,000 to $10,000. One goal is to make it easy for casual CAD users to take advantage of solid-modeling technology. To do so, PTC will further streamline its user interface. The company may also provide self-guided tutorials and stand-alone documentation.
Additionally, the MacNeal-Schwendler Corp. recently made it possible for engineers with PCs and Windows 3.1 to use MSC/NASTRAN. The company says the new version has the same analysis power as the original, with an easy-to-use graphical interface.
Also in the FEA arena, ANSYS has added a Motif-like graphical user interface, fully on-line documentation, and a hypertext-based HELP system to the recently released ANSYS 5.1. Peter Smith, CEO, reports that FEA products must become more intuitive and useful to a greater segment of engineers.
Algor has also set its sights on enhancing the capabilities of a larger number of engineers. The company expanded its line of Unix products with its recent Houdini release, which the company will