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Cloud-Based CAD Computing?

Last response: in Business Computing
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January 16, 2012 3:58:26 PM

I've just recently landed a job doing a rather large CAD project, particularly 3D modeling and rendering. This is great news, but the bad news is that it's freelance, so I get to use my computers at home. I'm in the process of putting together a desktop for the job, so that's covered. I am not one for sitting at a desk all day (when I have a perfectly good couch nearby) and since I have a laptop, I was hoping to be able to do most of the project work from my laptop. It's specs, however, are...really unimpressive. That's where you guys come in. I know virtually nothing about cloud computing, so this might be impossible, but is there any way that I can use my desktop's resources to render the images on my laptop? Or is that a ludicrous question to begin with?

Thanks.
January 16, 2012 4:17:17 PM

Well, you could look into Citrix/Xen virtual servers with direct access to GPU's.
They have a lot of cloud-based services, you could create your own "cloud" server in your home and access it from your laptop. You would need a good connection to use it productively, I guess 3G would have too much lag.
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January 16, 2012 5:36:42 PM

How would I go about doing that? I tried looking at the documentation for Xen, and that went so far over my head I thought it was a weather balloon. And what sort of connection would be good enough? I'll only ever be within 20 feet of the desktop, with maybe one or two (not very thick) walls between us.
a b D Laptop
January 16, 2012 5:56:40 PM

I'm glad I didn't hire you.
January 16, 2012 10:06:20 PM

ram1009 said:
I'm glad I didn't hire you.

Right, because as a freelance artist I should have an inherent understanding of not just networking, but of cloud computing, something that has caught on only recently?

so I'm guessing you expect a cashier to know exactly how the shipping department works company-wide, and the merchandising department should know the manufacturing processes for every type of item that comes in too, yes? Your mechanic needs to know exactly how they smelt and process the metals for your car's engine, and your gas station attendants need to know how crude oil gets refined, down to the chemical level too, right? Or is this just you having a bad day, so you decide to insult people on the internet to make yourself feel better?
January 16, 2012 10:17:26 PM

Have you thought about just using remote desktop connection? -- Would be a bit 'sluggish' but perfectly do-able.
January 16, 2012 11:51:14 PM

melharts said:
Have you thought about just using remote desktop connection? -- Would be a bit 'sluggish' but perfectly do-able.



Remote desktop is far more usable for CAD than you would guess. The myth about CAD is that you need a fancy video card, but you really don't. For rendering you are not looking for a high framerate, any video card will do. Even when zooming in and out of a model a slow video card can still work. Running remote desktop over the internet (which I do a LOT of) is not so bad. There is some lag for zooming in and out but if you have a decent home ISP it is still effective. In the OP's case, within his own home, he is running across his network and not through the internet so it will work much better for him. He can have one powerful desktop computer running CAD applications, and access it through minimal laptops elsewhere. At one time in my office I was switching over from an older computer to a newer computer and would sometimes access the older one through remote desktop on our office network. This was actually very fast, I could play videos across that connection and they played just fine, so remote desktop on a fast network works very well. Before doing anything else with respect to cloud computing or whatever I would recommend trying out remote desktop.
January 17, 2012 12:01:27 AM

cadder said:
Remote desktop is far more usable for CAD than you would guess. The myth about CAD is that you need a fancy video card, but you really don't. For rendering you are not looking for a high framerate, any video card will do. Even when zooming in and out of a model a slow video card can still work. Running remote desktop over the internet (which I do a LOT of) is not so bad. There is some lag for zooming in and out but if you have a decent home ISP it is still effective. In the OP's case, within his own home, he is running across his network and not through the internet so it will work much better for him. He can have one powerful desktop computer running CAD applications, and access it through minimal laptops elsewhere. At one time in my office I was switching over from an older computer to a newer computer and would sometimes access the older one through remote desktop on our office network. This was actually very fast, I could play videos across that connection and they played just fine, so remote desktop on a fast network works very well. Before doing anything else with respect to cloud computing or whatever I would recommend trying out remote desktop.


I wasn't trying to bring down RDC at all, I just know when I run my VPS from home, its a bit 'sluggish' like playing an FPS game at 20-25FPS, its still playable, just not 'fancy', but I agree with you completely, using RDC is a must 'try' before attempting anything in regards to CC.
January 17, 2012 1:17:36 AM

cadder said:
Remote desktop is far more usable for CAD than you would guess. The myth about CAD is that you need a fancy video card, but you really don't. For rendering you are not looking for a high framerate, any video card will do. Even when zooming in and out of a model a slow video card can still work. Running remote desktop over the internet (which I do a LOT of) is not so bad. There is some lag for zooming in and out but if you have a decent home ISP it is still effective. In the OP's case, within his own home, he is running across his network and not through the internet so it will work much better for him. He can have one powerful desktop computer running CAD applications, and access it through minimal laptops elsewhere. At one time in my office I was switching over from an older computer to a newer computer and would sometimes access the older one through remote desktop on our office network. This was actually very fast, I could play videos across that connection and they played just fine, so remote desktop on a fast network works very well. Before doing anything else with respect to cloud computing or whatever I would recommend trying out remote desktop.


This sounds excellent. I've used RDC a few times before, but it was never on the local network. Is there any major difference between setting RDC up for a local network than a remote one?
January 17, 2012 1:45:42 AM

Should be fairly easy, just enable remote desktop on both computers (within control panel), grab the IP of the computer you want to access, if its on LAN, it should be something like 192.168.0.1 (Win+R->"CMD"->"IPCONFIG") Type that in on the laptop you want to use and it should work. If not just let us know your issue in this thread, and we'll help you further.
April 26, 2012 3:14:31 AM

The person at Autodesk didn't quite understand your question or know the answer.

You can setup a Windows or Linux box on EC2 (the whole point of EC2 is server processing power NOT storage... storage is Amazon S3.) I haven't done it yet but I've been working on doing a similar setup. You would setup and install either Windows or Linux as an EC2 instance, and then install your CAD software (as well as set it up as remote desktop). Then you'd remote desktop into the server on a much faster machine but otherwise the same thing as what others said to do here with your desktop. I'm not saying this is easy. If you run Linux, you'll then need to virtualize with VMWare or VirtualBox a Windows OS (since 99% of professional cad software is Windows based.) There may be issues with virtualizing on EC2 which is already virtualized itself. I've read it is doable but you might not get as big of a performance boost. Essentially you're setting up a server with remote desktop capabilities (or VNC which you could use instead, (or have to use if not on Windows) and the install your CAD program on the remote machine.
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