Blinn’s Law and the paradox of increasing performance

Original post by Joe Pizzini

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Painters have their brushes, sculptors have their chisels and VFX artists have their powerful workstations. All trades rely on specialized tools to get the job done, but what happens when rapidly advancing technology is applied to the modern creative process? As a 3D artist, what are the advantages of upgrading and utilizing the latest processing power? One of the obvious answers would be that your renders will finish in less time. While this is certainly a key advantage, one could argue that it is just the low hanging fruit when deciding whether or not to upgrade your hardware.

Let’s think of a writer and the tools they use. Modern writers can churn out words, make edits, check spelling, and receive feedback at speeds that Shakespeare could only dream of. Does this mean that writing is easier today than it was 400 years ago? While it’s clear that the speed at which one can write is drastically faster today, it still takes about the same time to write a novel.

Herein lies the paradox. Why can’t a writer complete a novel in ten days given the advantage of modern computers? The answer is because technological advances in the writing process have presented an opportunity for more creative iterations. More plots to explore and characters to develop. Continue reading

GPU Rendering vs. CPU Rendering – A method to compare render times with empirical benchmarks

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As GPU render engines become more popular and feature rich, you may be thinking (for the purposes of final frame rendering) that it’s time to jump in and integrate GPUs into your workflow. The driving force behind a migration to GPU rendering has always been speed. In fact, BOXX customers frequently ask, “How much faster is GPU rendering as compared to CPU rendering?” This is a tricky question to answer because of the many variables involved.

The goal of this article is to provide a better understanding of image quality with respect to the render times of different rendering engines using different compute devices. We’ll also propose a method to accurately compare CPU rendering to GPU rendering.

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One Brand To Rule Them All

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The king is dead! Long live the king! 3DBOXX is now APEXX. If you’ve taken a tour of our website lately, you’ve discovered a major change in our products. Instead of 14 different desktop products, we’ve consolidated our lineup into two desktops, with a third arriving next month. While we still have a few 3DBOXX workstations which have yet to make the transition (but will do so by year’s end), we’re making this change now in order to greatly simplify your BOXX experience.

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Timeless Designer

Whether traveling backward, forward, or parallel, acclaimed concept designer and author Daniel Simon is running on all cylinders.

By John Vondrak

The Timeless Racer

Daniel Simon loves machines. He is intrigued by how they work and consumed by how they look. For many vehicle designers and aficionados of transportation modes, his affection is not uncommon. As children, my late brother and I were obsessed with aircraft. His—World War II era, while I, to this day and from the most basic line drawing, can easily identify all forms of World War I airplanes. Both of us were (and I remain) 60’s Mopar muscle car enthusiasts. Admittedly, our love of machines is not entirely unique, but when you listen to Daniel Simon speak about them, the full-throttled passion you hear in his voice is. To him, a vehicle is not merely something you drive, sail, or fly from point A to point B. And it’s also more than just a work of art.  These machines are part of a universal story—an integral part. So for Daniel Simon, vehicle designer, the only thing he enjoys as much as creating fantastic looking machines, is crafting the back story that accompanies them. Continue reading

American Metal: The BOXX Chassis Story

By John Vondrak

When I set out to make a short film on the BOXX workstation chassis, it was at the behest of BOXX product marketing manager Chris Morley. Chris wanted the world to know that we design and build our own workstations right here in Austin, Texas. I liked the idea since I, like most BOXX users, appreciate the look of our machines. Our friend Daniel Simon, the noted concept designer (TRON:Legacy, Captain America: The First Avenger, Oblivion), producer and author, (Cosmic Motors, The Timeless Racer) refers to our systems as “industrial, like a real piece of machinery— elegant, heavy-duty machinery.” That sums it up. You don’t buy a BOXX to send emails or play video games. You buy it to go to work.

Animators, VFX artists, filmmakers, video editors, architects, engineers, product designers, and other hard working people go to work with their BOXX every day. They marvel at the speed and performance of their workstation and are grateful that if they ever need them, legendary BOXX Technical Support (also located at our headquarters in Austin) is ready to assist. But what many BOXXers may not always recognize is that some hard working people, just like them, design and build the chassis that accommodates the multiple professional GPUs, liquid cooling, and other innovative features that make a BOXX workstation the unique machine that it is.

And that’s what ended up taking this film in a slightly different direction.

The more I spoke to our engineers in BOXXlabs and the metal fabricators at the shop that stamps, cuts, and assembles the array of metal parts that become the BOXX chassis, I saw this as an American story. It’s no secret that for decades, U.S. industry has taken a hit as manufacturing has moved overseas to produce cheaper goods. Our mass-market, tier one competitors have been part of that trend. But at BOXX, our systems are “Made in the U.S.A.” and that declaration is more than a slogan. In the process of designing our chassis, our expert engineers, like many of you, rely on SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor, Creo, and other professional applications. They provide the metal fabricators with precise 3D CAD models in order to produce quality parts necessary to assemble the state-of-the-art chassis. Those chassis then arrive at BOXX HQ where the best production team in the computer industry assembles the components for each custom-configured solution (but that’s a video for another day).

So take a few moments to watch the film, and the next time you boot up your BOXX workstation, we hope you appreciate the design and construction of the chassis. The longer you consider it (and the enterprise-class components inside), we’re confident that you’ll see that it is indeed “a real piece of machinery.”

And just maybe, like those of us at BOXX, you’ll discover that American manufacturing is ready for a comeback.