Companies must create products that are higher quality, more reliable, and lower cost. With this in mind, Dell’s Chris Ramirez tells us how and why Dell designs workstations to make engineers more productive.

Global competition is making manufacturing, engineering, and design a cut-throat business. Companies need to complete projects faster. They also must meet design goals, creating products that are higher quality, more reliable, and lower cost.

Chris points out that experienced engineers are limited, and this prevents companies from exploiting opportunities.

In short, companies need to accelerate design and manufacturing projects while maintaining their requirements for quality, design, and cost. And they need to perform in an environment where qualified engineers are scarce.

The Dell approach is to find ways to help customers increase revenues and increase productivity by providing engineers with properly configured technology.

A quick, cost-effective solution is to allow the existing team to do their work more effectively with a faster workstation and new technology which enables more efficient workflows. Incremental performance improvements may provide a 10% increase in productivity. 

How can I help my customers gain a competitive advantage? … Speed, accuracy, and removing bottlenecks in the customer’s workflows: It has to be a holistic view.

Combining this with advances in hardware and software technology enables jumps in productivity.

Bringing software and hardware advances to engineers

Chris points to concrete examples. Simulation is an important and time-consuming process in product development workflows. Simulation experts are valuable team members and often serve as the simulation expert for multiple design projects, so avoiding bottlenecks at the simulation stage accelerates projects.

Dell has an eco-system of software partners and technology providers.  They work to produce new technology for workstation customers. 

Products such as Ansys Discovery Live relieve bottlenecks in simulation by enabling design engineers to perform simulations themselves and simulate earlier in the design process. The designs finally sent to the simulation expert are improved and the design-to-simulation iterations are reduced.

While this saves the simulation expert time, doesn’t it simply displace the effort to design engineers? In this case, no. Here, the melding of new hardware technology and software development shows its value.

Ansys rewrote the simulation engine in Discovery Live to fully utilize the parallel processing power of a workstation’s GPU. And they designed Discovery Live to be accessible to design engineers. This allows design engineers to simulate early and in real-time. 

This interactive simulation environment allows for multiple simulation iterations which improves the design engineer’s work product and smooths out the design-to-simulation workflow.

A similar dynamic occurs in the design visualization process of product development. Chris uses the example of Keyshot which uses NVIDIA’s RTX architecture for real time raytraced visualization. Removing the delay for high-quality renderings means faster design cycles. It means high-quality interactive animations for reviews.

Evolutionary & revolutionary innovation in all form factors: desktop, mobile, and rack

Engineers and designers have many needs. Flexibility is important. A Dell Precision mobile workstation with an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU gives design engineers real-time rendering power that they can use any time, anywhere. The combination makes designers more productive through the increased performance and more effective through the increased flexibility.

In addition to desktop and mobile workstation platforms, Dell delivers rack-mounted workstations. Manufacturing clients create large amounts of intellectual property which they need to protect. This means that many customers look at rack-mounted workstations in their data centers as a method of delivering workstation performance in a more secure way.

When it comes to GPU-acceleration, we are not talking about just a handful of applications. NVIDIA maintains a catalog of GPU-accelerated applications that contains hundreds of applications. In the design visualization area, Professional Workstation tested real time ray tracing in VRED, one of the most popular design visualization products in the automotive industry. Real time raytracing is a graphics feature Dell makes possible for customers through the integration of NVIDIA's RTX architecture in Dell Precision workstations. 

NVIDIA RTX & realtime raytracing

NVIDIA's RTX architecture combines raytracing and AI hardware to enable real time raytracing.

Artificial Intelligence is part of these modern workstations and AI is a key factor in enabling new, faster workflows throughout the engineering world. Real time raytracing is enabled through a combination of raytracing hardware to quickly generate the initial image and AI hardware to clean up and perfect the image. 

Chris points out that providing these benefits to customers requires an eco-system of partners. This Dell eco-system includes the software vendors and Dell technology partners like NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel. He is also clear that he is not interested in keeping a customer only on a workstation if the client’s workload is better suited for a different computing solution such as an HPC cluster.

From my perspective, Dell is perhaps uniquely qualified as a vendor which can deliver all aspects of the IT solution for a manufacturing customer. The company offers HPC solutions, high-performance storage solutions, security and virtualization solutions, and even IoT solutions. In each of these areas, Dell maintains an approach that creates an eco-system of partners which provides customers with complete, end-to-end solutions.

Evolutionary performance gains add incremental increases that accumulate with every generation. For example, in addition to using the latest technology, Dell focuses on thermal design so that their mobile workstations deliver higher performance. This accumulation is significant, and the added performance improves the responsiveness of the workstation and reduces the time to complete tasks.

Revolutionary change is important. Going from hours or days to run simulations down to minutes or instantly. Changing from CPU-based final frame rendering to GPU-accelerated real time ray tracing, these are the kind of revolutionary advances that change how teams work.

Chris believes that the combination of revolutionary performance increases and evolutionary performance increases is critical in delivering more productive workstation technology to manufacturing customers. 

A Final Perspective

Product design and engineering teams at manufacturing companies are feeling the pressure of a global competitive environment that forces them to move faster. There are limited engineers out there who really know what they are doing, and companies are limited by the bandwidth of their people.

Dell looks at engineering workflows. They search for the pain-points. Then they address the pain-points by working with their eco-system of software partners and technology providers. This problem-solving effort drives the Dell Precision team.

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