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Imaging Development Environments
Although it may seem a stretch to the casual Advanced Imaging reader to include such sophisticated applications as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) in an integrated imaging development environment, there is compelling data to prove otherwise. Not only CFD, but also simulation, modeling, visualization and control are being ported to PC-level platforms from some unlikely sources. At the recent NI (National Instruments) Week in Austin Texas (August 13-15, 2004), NI execs unfurled their plans for future product growth in such areas as simulation and test data integrated together. They even hinted at 3D MCAD programs that normally require translators to reach data in vendors' proprietary MCAD format. Another approach is Intel's 3D CAD working group, which is focused on resolving some of these issues with its 3D CAD Working Groups in both the U.S. and Europe.
One of the first indications that test data from NI's LabVIEW development testing environment is key to this integration is IDL's 6.0 release, wherein Direct X, DLLs and even JAVA components are being integrated to provide end-users with a flexible format for both design and test. Curiously enough, the wide number of users of LabVIEW for testing was the main reason Research Systems, Inc., a Kodak Subsidiary, has begun porting to the LabVIEW environment.
Although NI may be more likely to draw upon the semiconductor industry's VHDL development environment initially for simulation-the semiconductors companies have a more closed loop from design to test-it may not be too far down the road when LabVIEW will support both testing and inspection suites for a complete solution. NI's CVS is just one approach that works well with LabVIEW's underlying software core kernel. Another strong pull from the industry at large is that both automotive and aerospace are looking for modeling, simulation and test bed integration. Automotive models can result in costs as high as $200,000 to produce; ditto for aerospace test beds. A more uniform test approach coupled tightly to the design phase is more than just theory now-it is getting serious attention. Seeking to gain entry into some of these markets are such newcomers as Acuitiv (Batavia, Ill).
The company's version 3.3 is specifically designed to provide enterprise-wide CFD solutions to evaluate ideas and or designs in the targeted markets. What's more, the price points for entry have been lowered by an order of magnitude, which is a large benefit to developers in an immersive environment such as a CAVE (see Advanced Imaging, June 2002, page 8). The company's products are based on a C++ object-oriented language with bindings for OpenGL and VR Juggler to service such diverse applications that range from missile flight design to monitoring environment emissions from inexpensive fuels.
One of the more recent developments in CFDs is the ability to translate data in a more common file format. This a big leap from the rocket scientists of the past, when CFDs were mainly used for missile design and wind tunnel laminar air flow. CGNS (CFD General Notation System) is designed to facilitate the exchange of data between sites and applications, thus helping to stabilize the archiving of aerodynamic data.