It’s been just over a year since Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence released the final version of PC-DMIS that supports hardware platforms based on 32-bit architecture. For PC-DMIS users, the migration to 64-bit systems was already well underway; even by the start of 2016, 94% of PC-DMIS active users worked on a 64-bit platform.
The discontinuation of 32-bit support for PC-DMIS not only aligns with Hexagon strategy but highlights a growing global trend. NVIDIA announced in December 2017 that it will cease the development of drivers that support 32-bit operating systems for any of its Graphic Processing Unit architecture. As of January 2018, Apple’s policy is that developers must submit new apps to the Mac store in 64-bit. No doubt, across industries, 32-bit systems are still ticking along, but the software world is making clear that, when it comes to support for these systems, the clock is ticking.
Certainly, now is the opportune moment to migrate to 64-bit platforms, but what makes the upgrade so valuable for PC-DMIS and CAD users?
Because 2 GB (GB = one billion bytes) are allotted for the operating system, 32-bit versions can use only 2 GB of memory of the 4 GB theoretically available on a 32-bit PC. With a 64-bit PC, the maximum theoretical limit of addressable memory is as much as 1 billion GB. This doesn’t mean that a PC-DMIS user is able to physically assemble a system utilising all this memory, but it does allow them to configure a workstation that is suitably sized to allow PC-DMIS to smoothly handle the largest and most complex 3D CAD models imaginable today.
Efficient Point Cloud Manipulation
Since it takes just a few minutes for today’s laser sensor to acquire points to fill the 2 GB of memory available on 32-bit, users will increase efficiency if they adopt 64-bit hardware and software. The preferred number of points acquired can be limited by filter systems, but digitising large surfaces can generate point clouds that may reach the size of several GB. The time-savings are dramatic. For instance, in 2009 once the point cloud had been acquired, mesh creation was done on a 32-bit PC and took 50 hours of processing to complete. In 2015, using the original point cloud, the same mesh creation was performed again on a 64-bit PC and the processing took approximately 50 minutes.
Enhanced 3D Graphic Display
PC DMIS users making intensive use of 3D graphics are those who are getting the most out of 64-bit. PC-DMIS has a 3D graphic window and all features inspected in a measuring program will be displayed in this window, benefitting greatly from 64-bit in terms of smooth motion, zoom speed, highlighting and manipulation.
Optimised Running of Measurement Programs
Because measuring programs need to be loaded in memory before being started, the 2 GB RAM limit in 32 bit might make it impossible to load larger programs. This can cause breaks in the middle of part program execution, so the system can discard the section of the program already carried out to free up memory before continuing with the rest of the program. This does not occur on a 64-bit system, where PC-DMIS would be able to load to memory in one go virtually all measuring programs created by all PC-DMIS users worldwide throughout over 25 years on the market!
In the case of part programs, it’s not only the amount of memory that enhances operations but also the improved computing capacity of 64-bit processors. The processing of any program, even when complex and iterative algorithms are used, is streamlined and fast, producing immediate results with no unjustified breaks in execution.
For users requiring DCI (Direct CAD Interface), the 64-bit improves its performance considerably, with the graphic engine of a third party’s CAD being smoother and more reactive on the new platform. Because the systems’ processors must match in order to connect, it’s essential that the native CAD system is 64-bit if users want to utilise the latest PC-DMIS.
Efficient Generation of Complex Measuring Reports
In general, report creation requires intensive use of computer resources and memory. The larger the memory available and more powerful the processor, the quicker the report becomes available to the user. Report processing is completed much more quickly on a 64-bit workstation and the time difference is particularly noticeable when processing very long and complex reports including 2D and 3D graphic elements, as well as text parts and external graphics.
Migrating to 64-bit architecture can clearly optimise PC-DMIS operations, but your options need to be thoroughly considered, particularly because specific solutions might be available for upgrading your systems. Visit the PC-DMIS page to see the range of options available in the world-leading measurement software.
Joe Zink has been in the software development business for 45 years, 34 of which have been with Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. As a Product Owner for the PC-DMIS product line, he is responsible for planning, CAD, graphics and dimensional reporting.