Issue: Volume 40 Issue 5: (Sep/Oct 2017)


CGW Names Silver Edge Winners

At SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, more than 150 vendors provided show-goers with an in-depth look at their latest products and technologies focused on the computer graphics industry. With so many offerings on display, it was difficult for the staff at CGW to select what it deems the best of the show. After examining many exciting offerings featured at the show, Computer Graphics World has named the recipients of its Silver Edge Awards – SIGGRAPH 2017.

Those chosen for this honor grabbed our attention with technology that has significant potential in greatly influencing the work that is done in our industry. 

The winners and honorable mentions are:


Epic – Unreal Engine 4. This versatile game engine is changing the game,creating new roads into real-time applications.
Nvidia -– DGX Station. Unthinkable power for achieving the unimaginable. 
HP – HP Z VR Backpack wearable VR PC. A novel design for professionals in the VR space.
Maxon – Cinema 4D R19. Offering a powerful alternative for all types of digital content creation.
Foundry – Elara cloud-based platform. Enabling shops of all sizes to afford using cutting-edge tools.
Dell -– Canvas workspace. A high-end hardware alternative to the traditional computer with keyboard and mouse.
Allegorithmic – Substance texture tools and Automation Toolkit. Rich, organic painted results for a workable workflow. 
AMD – Radeon Pro SSG GPU. Power akin to a personal supercomputer.
Reallusion – iClone 7 virtual production platform. A full content creation tool with robust capabilities.


Conductor Technologies – Conductor cloud-rendering platform. Cloud rendering fine-tuned for the VFX film industry.
Autodesk – Autodesk Media & Entertainment Collection, Autodesk
Maya, Shotgun, Arnold, Autodesk 3ds Max, and Autodesk Flame. Venerable standard tools that continue to improve.
Nvidia – VRWorks. Important tools to assist in VR content creation.
Epic – Datasmith workflow tool kit. Simplifying the task of moving data into Unreal Engine for architectural and design visualizations.  
Foundry – Project Bunsen. For building unified and scalable enterprise visualization pipelines.
WorldViz – Vizible VR communication tool. A unique, simple-to-use VR application that makes meetings far more engaging and enables participants to see and interact with models like never before.

Intel Rolls Out Xeon Scalable Processors

The Intel Xeon Scalable processors are now available for next-generation expert workstations, to enable photorealistic design, modeling, AI, analytics, and VR content creation.

Unveiled in July 2017, Intel Xeon Scalable processors deliver breakthrough dual-socket performance for the most advanced workstation professionals, offering up to 56 cores, up to 112 threads, and an Intel Turbo Boost Technology frequency up to 4.2ghz. Expert workstations will experience up to a 2.71x boost in performance compared to a four-year-old system and up to 1.65x higher performance compared to the previous generation.

Intel has also unveiled the new Intel Xeon W processors, targeting mainstream workstations. The single--socket Intel Xeon W processor delivers mainstream performance optimized for the needs of traditional workstation professionals. The Intel Xeon W processor features up to 18 cores and up to 36 threads, with an Intel Turbo Boost Technology frequency up to 4.5 ghz. Mainstream workstations will experience up to 1.38x higher performance compared to the previous generation.

Chaos Acquires Render Legion

Chaos Group recently announced the acquisition of Prague-based Render Legion, creator of the Corona Renderer. With this acquisition, combined with its renderer V-Ray, Chaos Group now strengthens its position as a provider of professional rendering software for the architectural visualization market.

Known for its ease of use, the Corona Renderer has become a popular choice for architectural visualization. The Render Legion team, including its founders and developers, will join Chaos Group as they continue to develop Corona.

Chaos Group’s V-Ray will continue to be a core component of the company’s portfolio. Both V-Ray and Corona will benefit from joint collaborations, bringing complementary features and optimizations to each product.

Add-in Board Market Rises

The add-in graphics board market was outstanding in Q2 ’17, increasing 30.9% sequentially and 34.9% year-to-year, according to Jon Peddie, president of industry research consulting firm Jon Peddie Research (JPR).

The market shares for the desktop discrete GPU suppliers shifted in the quarter, too.

The GPU and PC market had been showing a return to normal seasonality. That pattern is typically flat to down in Q1, a significant drop in Q2 as OEMs and the channel deplete inventory before the summer months, a restocking with the latest products in Q3 in anticipation of the holiday season, and mild increase to flat change in Q4. All of that has been subject to an overall decline in the PC market since the great recession of ’07 and the influx of tablets and smartphones. However, this year, Q2 AIB shipments were completely out of sync and remarkably high.

In fact, this is the first time in over nine years that Q2 has seen an increase in shipments, and never one this dramatic.

The big difference is the impact that cryptocurrency mining (especially Ethereum) is having on the market.

People are sending Bitcoins to each other over the Bitcoin network all the time, but unless someone keeps a record of all these transactions, no one would be able to keep track of who had paid what. The Bitcoin network deals with this by collecting all of the transactions made during a set period into a list, called a block.
It’s the miners’ job to confirm those transactions and write them into a general ledger. They are paid for this work in like currency.

Ethereum is designed to resist the development of Ethereum-mining ASICs.

Ethereum uses a different hashing algorithm to Bitcoin, which makes it incompatible with the special hashing hardware (ASICs) developed for Bitcoin mining. Ethereum’s algorithm is known as Ethash. It’s a memory-hard algorithm, meaning it’s designed to resist the development of Ethereum-mining ASICs. Instead, Ethash is deliberately best suited to GPU mining.

The PC add-in board (AIB) market now has just two chip (GPU) suppliers that also build and sell AIBs. The primary suppliers of GPUs are AMD and Nvidia. There are 48 AIB suppliers, the AIB OEM customers of the GPU suppliers, which they call “partners.”

In addition to privately branded AIBs that are offered worldwide, about a dozen PC suppliers offer AIBs as part of a system or as an option, and some that offer AIBs as separate aftermarket products. JPR has been tracking AIB shipments quarterly since 1987 – the volume of those boards peaked in 1999, reaching 114 million units; in 2015, 44 million shipped.

Since the introduction of the PC, which was in 1981, believe it or not, JPR estimates that 2.1 billion AIBswill have been shipped by the end of this year. And the inflation-adjusted value is $1.02 trillion dollars.

The news for the quarter was encouraging and seasonally under-standable: Quarter-to-quarter, the AIB market increased 30.9% (compared to the desktop PC market, which decreased 18.2%).

AIB shipments during the quarter increased from the last quarter by 30.9%, which is above the 10-year average of -9.8%. On a year-to-year basis, JPR found that total AIB shipments during the quarter rose 34.9%, and that is greater than desktop PCs, which fell 30.0%.

Ethereum Mining the Game Changer

In spite of the overall PC churn, somewhat due to tablets and embedded graphics, the Ethereum mining and PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market.

The gaming PC (system) market is as vibrant as the stand-alone AIB market. All OEMs are investing in the gaming space because demand for gaming PCs is robust. Intel also validated this on its earnings call, along with the recent announcement of a new enthusiast CPU. However, it won’t show in the overall market numbers because, like gaming GPUs, the gaming PCs are dwarfed by the general-purpose machines.

JPR’s research finds that global GPU market demand in Q2 ’16 decreased from last quarter and decreased from last year, to 83.32 million units. In recent years, as the gaming ecosystem begins to shape up, software and hardware developers, information service providers, and even governments have been attempting to unearth market opportunities coming from this new arena. However, global PC shipment volume is forecast to fall further.