What do you get when you upgrade to the modern advanced professional graphics cards? Aren’t all graphics cards the same?
Not at all. Professional graphics cards offer features that we can leverage in EnSight, higher capacities, and professional graphics driver support.
Features of EnSight that are only supported on recent card architectures:
1) Volume rendering, including embedded transparent surfaces
2) Hardware accelerated object picking
3) Dynamic object highlighting
4) Per-pixel correct transparency sorting
5) Greatly improved transparency performance
6) Part coloring enhancements: Improved limit fringes, alpha palettes, etc
7) Independently rendered annotation plane
8) Customizable anti-aliasing
Features of workstation class cards:
1) Stereo display support
2) Faster, higher quality line drawing
3) Improved memory management and drivers
4) Multi-display support (e.g. a PowerWall or Cave in a single card).
More general benefits to EnSight, due to improved
graphics architectures and increased memory sizes:
1) Larger geometries can be manipulated in real-time
2) Rendering performance (often 2x improvement for each generation of graphics card)
Those are probably the biggest items. Not necessarily in the order that all people would agree about. The #1 issue is improved productivity as the user has:
a) Entirely new ways of looking at their data via Volume Rendering, Alpha Palettes, etc.
b) Improved direct interaction, resulting in fewer missteps
c) Improved interaction rates, allowing them to ask and formulate answers to more questions in the same amount
What do you mean by “modern”?
When we talk about “modern” cards here we generally refer to cards that have at least DirectX 10 levels of functionality. Even if you are not on Windows and using DirectX 10, that level of graphics card is what we mean by modern.
Who makes “modern” graphics cards?
Look for nVidia Quadro lines and the AMD/ATI graphics cards.
Support page for AMD/ATI graphics cards certification is here.
Support page for nVidia graphics cards certification is here.