Matrox v anything else (CAD)

Redav

Distinguished
May 13, 2002
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18,510
Our IT guys are questioning why we buy Matrox cards for our AutoCAD machines. When we first bought Matrox cards about 8 years ago and have bought them ever since. They are wondering if we are buying them for a reason or because that's all we've ever bought.

I feel that as they are aimed at 2D, which is what the majority of our CAD stuff is, they are the ideal card. They want to go to nVidia or because they are half the price with twice the RAM. I think they think that more RAM means better images and faster graphics. I thought large amounts of RAM get used for texturing and anything about 64 meg doesn't really affect depth of colour or resolution What I can't find is justifiable figures on why we have Matrox's. I know the RAMDAC rating on the Matrox cards have always been excellent but I'm not sure how they really compare to the better 3D cards. I do 3D stuff like using MAX so I'm not adverse to going to nVidia or an ATi based card, (I have a Geforce 4 at home). I also do Photoshop stuff so my needs are slightly different to our other caddies.

Can anyone offer any opinions, info or sites useful for this question?

Thanks and regards,
Redav
 

Crashman

Polypheme
Former Staff
nVidia has the Quadro series, ATI has the FireGL series, both are EXPENSIVE and aimed at displaying 3D models quickly in OpenGL, using CAD software. If your company isn't doing 3D models yet, you're behind the times and I'm degreed and unemployed, HIRE ME to get you up to speed!

If your IT department is dedicated and capable they can convert mainstream gaming cards to "pro" cards using driver hacks, but most "professionals" wouldn't consider doing such. It would save them up to 70%, since they're basically the SAME CARDS!

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Redav

Distinguished
May 13, 2002
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18,510
Cheers. Most of our work is roads so we only draw in 2 dimensions at once. We have 3D modeling done in a string based design package called MX, (used to be MOSS). Don't expect you to have heard of it but it does all the design stuff. AutoCAD is purely a drafting tool to show what the MX designed model looks like. Only ever work in plan, longitudinal and cross sections plus whatever details we need. Our struc dudes however use 3D models for deriving levels and making sure things fit but that's about it. Ultimately it's still 2D for drafting but I expect that will change. Yeah, we're a little slow here but management feels it works best for what we're doing.

My 3D stuff is different. I get 3D string models and triangulations from MX and model the design in AutoCAD. Only problem is the version of MAX I'm using, (1.2), :( doesn't use OpenGL or anything like that.

Thanks,
Redav
 
The matroxs are GREAT cards for 2D work, and the FireGL and Quadros are really overkill for your type of work.

Memory DOES take a little bit of play in colour depth and resolution. The larger the res. and the greater the colour depth the more memory used by one frame/field. I was just (right before loggin on here) editing some wedding photos I took this past weekend and had to reduce them to fit onto a CD. Just look at what happens when you change JUST the colour depth from 36 to 32 bit alone (since most people will just be viewing these on their computers casually and not reproducing them). It shrinks the overall size of the info required for the picture greatly (especially when JPEG is trying to compress that info [already compressed from orignal RAW format from Kodak-14N]) a 6mb jpg shrinks to about 4mb (compression algorithms involved too). Then change the resolution going from my original 4500x3000 to 1600x1200 cut the size even more, by about 1/7th down to ~600kb. The same thing occurs with each of those fields the computer has to display. The more the info, the more room it needs as a frame buffer etc. This is most important with motion and depth, but if it's a static image like a blueprint/plan then it won't matter too much that you're displaying 1920x1440x32 at 20 FPS. You'll barely notice the diff. from 30+fps.

The new Matrox P (short for Parhelia) - Series (P650/P750) are very nice cards with alot of upgrade over the old G series. They aren't as expensive as the Parhelia but offer alot of it's benifits, better AA (even for text and 2D), dual desktop (not just extended), faster RAMDACs, and triple monitor support. Check the comparison chart <A HREF="http://www.matrox.com/mga/products/comp_chart/gseries_pseries_parhelia.cfm" target="_new">Here</A>

CRASH, one of the reasons they likely wouldn't soft mod GForces and Radeons is for certification reasons. It's fine for the home and small business person, but for alot of corps they need to meet the standards of the industry (AEC? ISO?), and the soft-moding doesn't usually meet those standards. Also you get all the nice support when they are the genuine article, including legacy support, etc.

<A HREF="http://www.matrox.com/mga/archive_story/jul2003/10_cad.cfm" target="_new">Here's</A> a TOP ten list from Matrox as to why THEY rock in CAD ( :cool: );

<A HREF="http://www.matrox.com/mga/archive_story/jul2003/10_cad.cfm" target="_new">http://www.matrox.com/mga/archive_story/jul2003/10_cad.cfm</A>

Anywhoo, it really depends on what you're doing with them, but I think the P650 or P750 would likely do fine for much less than the FireGL or Quadros. Sure those cards are powerful, especially for 3D work, but for the most part the Matrox cards will keep pace or best them in 2D work.

I, as most here know, am a Matrox 'fanboi' but in this case ths is one of the few times I can truely say they are the best cards in the business and that's not just fanboism. I'd say they offer the best 2D visual performance followed by the FireGLs and then the Quadros (although they are MUCH closer here than in the gaming market, to the point of being equal).

Anywhoo, once again that's just my two frames worth.


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Crashman

Polypheme
Former Staff
AutoCAD, aka CAD for cheapskates and dummies, but since you don't even need THAT; I worked with SDRC I-DEAS, the same program Ford calls "C3P" (Ford had to give it their own name of course), a super powerfull software that allows you to design every part of an entire car in one package, crash it into a wall, and tell exactly how fast a person would have to be going in that crash for the stress from a fuel injector to crack the manifold...and where the manifold will crack! Woot! And since it's an integrated package, you can look at that part, tell who designed it, look into his personel record, estimate production cost, and order the part from a vendor, without leaving the package. It's a do-all software for large scale corporate production. Too bad a full licence (with the FEA package) is around $50k last I checked...

Anyway, I'm using Solid Works right now, I'm not rich.

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