Great post. More than ever engineers and engineering teams are required to work faster and smarter. Problem is sometimes, they are asked to do so with basically the same hardware and software used two, three and even five years previously. I retired from a Fortune 500 company with 32 engineers in our design department. Upgrades were tough to come by due to expense. Even added RAM was a god-send. Flat screens--forget about it. I always wondered why sales and marketing got the good "stuff" while we were relegated to the "five-year" plan. One impediment was "off-shoring". All of our CAD work was accomplished in India. I certainly hope the trend is to bring back the CAD effort and let a dedicated engineering team do ALL of the work. Maybe then there will be equipment upgrades.
No doubt it's great to have fast workstations. However, it's not unusual to have computer systems networked and sometimes the network administrators are more concerned about email uptime than they are about fast and secure downloads of large design files. The network has to support the design objectives of the organization as well - not just the hardware on the desktop.
Yes, it seems that the IT guys are sometimes a little blind to the special needs of Engineering. Many don't understand how graphic intensive our applications are. Some IT folks believe that high performance graphics is just for games, so there's no need for Engineering to have better graphic performance than what is required to run a spreadsheet.
I also ran into trouble with software updates. Unfortunately, so many Engineering applications require patches and updates, and with IT security as tight as it is, all that updating is hard for IT to tolerate.
The next time you're churning through simulation models, manipulating 3D designs in real-time, or rendering a beautiful photo-realistic image, take a moment to think about all the work that goes on behind the scenes and be glad you don't have to worry about it.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.