VERICUT is a graphics-intensive application. The graphic speed of the computer can be a performance bottleneck, especially when using VERICUT’s Machine Simulation. Utilizing graphics hardware can improve Machine Simulation animation speed. In general, hardware dedicated to a specific computation task is faster than software. However, the speed improvement may not be as great as expected. Changing VERICUT to utilize graphics hardware also makes VERICUT more dependent on the hardware, and on the relatively complicated software pieces that sit in between VERICUT and the hardware. The following discussion outlines what to expect from hardware graphics with VERICUT, other issues that affect animation speed, and using hardware graphics with VERICUT.

How Does Hardware Graphics Help?

Using hardware graphics improves VERICUT animation speed by taking-on the job of shading and moving a VERICUT virtual machine’s “objects” in a 3D “scene”. With hardware graphics, VERICUT creates the machine’s visual objects and sends them to the hardware once. Then, during simulation or dynamic view manipulation, VERICUT simply tells the graphics system how to move the objects around the scene each time the scene changes (each frame of the animation). Each animation frame is created by the graphics card, utilizing the processor on the card. The display is created and updated using minimal processor and memory resources.

In VERICUT’s default software display method, software creates each animation frame. Thus when simulating or dynamically changing the view, VERICUT software creates each frame of the animation whenever the screen changes. The construction of each screen image uses processor and memory resources. Of course, this slows the overall simulation since the processor and memory are busy with other tasks in addition to creating VERICUT’s animation frames.

Wait a Minute, it Can’t Be That Simple!

You’re right, it’s not. 3D graphics accelerators are mainly designed for computer games. Computer games move faceted 3D objects (sometimes lots of them) around a 3D scene. The objects are pre-defined and rarely or never change shape. If objects do appear to “change”, they are only replaced by another pre-defined object, creating the illusion of change. In VERICUT’s world the main object of interest, the cut stock, changes shape with almost every frame of the animation as it is cut. The inability of 3D graphics to efficiently change an object’s shape is a major weakness when applying hardware graphics technology to VERICUT. And is often the bottleneck during VERICUT simulation.

VERICUT frequently uses much larger individual objects than computer games. Some objects in a virtual machine are represented by hundreds of thousands of facets (triangles). Additionally, VERICUT’s representation of the cut stock is not faceted and also creates a large graphics object. Hardware graphics cards do not always work efficiently with these large objects. Thus a complex machine in VERICUT, with a complex fixture, cutting a large complex stock, can challenge most graphics cards.

Graphics Memory

1gb of graphics memory is common today on inexpensive cards. Cards with more than 6gb are at the high-end of the commercial spectrum, and are not priced out of reach for many companies. Unfortunately, all that graphics memory is not available for VERICUT’s models, since it is often divided between various buffers, texture images, and other tasks.

It is not a disaster when the graphics card’s memory is exceeded, since the graphics hardware/software automatically uses the computer’s main physical memory. But when this happens the graphics speed decreases dramatically since each animation frame requires the graphics hardware/software to exchange data with the computer’s memory. This also reduces the amount of physical memory available to other running programs, like VERICUT.

So while VERICUT with hardware graphics is frequently faster than the default software graphics, it can also be slower AND use more memory. CGTech has been developing animation and machine simulation software for several years. VERICUT’s software graphics techniques are among the fastest in the computer industry. VERICUT’s very fast software graphics can, in some cases approach or even exceed the speed of hardware graphics. As usual, the results depend on the computer hardware, and the part and machine being simulated.

Hardware Graphics Cards

Hardware graphics is a rapidly changing segment of the computer industry. New cards and new technology appear weekly or monthly. Following are a few general thoughts on hardware characteristics:

Have at least 1gb of graphics memory. More is better, and may be necessary for reasonable simulation speed if you are working with large machines, fixtures or cut stocks.

Use a mid or high-end “professional” card. Visit the websites of the 2 major graphics card suppliers, NVIDIA, ATI, and become familiar with their product families.

VERICUT performs best on graphics cards that do fast creation, display and transformation of shaded triangles. VERICUT does not use texture features or do much line or vector drawing. Spending extra for a card because of high-end texture features is not useful for VERICUT.

For recommendation of total system requirement, visit our system requirements page.

Why doesn’t CGTech certify or recommend graphics cards?

Because of the rapidly changing products (daily, weekly, monthly), and the number of computer and graphics card combinations, it is practically impossible for us to test most configurations. CGTech purchases new Windows computer hardware each year, and we try to have that hardware supplied with what we consider a “mainstream” graphics card. We do not have the resources to buy, test, and maintain a list of certified or recommended graphics cards. And any list of graphics cards is obsolete as soon as it is published.

Setup and Troubleshooting

In general, if you are having problems using an accelerated view in VERICUT on a specific graphics card, try the following:

Download and apply the latest driver from the card manufacturer’s website. This has proven to be the most common fix to graphics troubles. New computers and graphics cards usually come with old “shelf-ware”. The latest updates from the manufacturer’s web-site usually do the trick.

Find the tab (usually called “troubleshoot”) that has a slider for controlling the level of hardware acceleration. Reduce it a step at a time until VERICUT starts behaving better. Unfortunately, speed may decrease as well for VERICUT and all other applications using hardware acceleration.

On the Display Properties’ Settings tab find the OpenGL setting for “Buffer Flipping” or “Page Flip” mode and set it to “no page flip” or “block transfer”. This setting usually eliminates a “flashing” problem sometimes seen in an Accelerated view during animation.

Reduce the number of colors on the desktop, down to a minimum of 16k colors.

If you’re still having problems you can try changing other OpenGL settings in the graphics card’s configuration dialog. But if the poor behavior persists it may not be possible to use an accelerated display in VERICUT with your hardware configuration.

Conclusion

There are several real benefits for VERICUT when using hardware graphics acceleration, including faster animation during simulation, and faster and smoother dynamic pan/zoom/rotate of the machine. Several hundred VERICUT users are currently benefiting from it. However other possible support issues can arise since using hardware graphics makes VERICUT more sensitive and dependent on the hardware and system software in the more complex graphics hardware/software environment.