VariCAD has significantly rebuilt its eponymous 3-D/2-D mechanical CAD system—which is no stranger to the Linux platform—with release 3.0. At its heart, says VariCAD, the multiplatform (Linux, Windows) product is a fully loaded package that offers not only “powerful tools for 3-D modeling and 2-D drafting and dimensioning”, but also “libraries of standard mechanical parts (ANSI, DIN), calculations of standard mechanical components and tools for working with bills of materials and blocks”. Innovations in the new version include “improvements in the STEP interface allowing input and output of 3-D objects, new high-resolution bitmap output from 3-D, new user-defined default settings, improved file opening and dimensioning” and others. A Linux-specific improvement is reduced dependence on system files, allowing the software to run on more distros. A free trial version (Debian or RPM) is available for download from VariCAD's Web site.
Arcom recently released its SBC-GX533 Development Kit for developing embedded devices in a Linux environment. The target applications, says Arcom, are “deeply embedded, remote or unattended installations demanding reasonable processing power”, typically industrial RTUs and data acquisition modules, as well as networking and communications devices. The SBC-GX533 is a low-profile, fanless, RoHS-compliant, EBX-form-factor board with a 400MHz AMD Geode GX533 1.1W processor, 512MB of DDR DRAM and 32MB of Flash, of which only 13MB are occupied by the preloaded Linux image. The Linux OS is kernel 2.6 with a Compressed Journaled Flash File System (JFFS2) for reliability and recovery from power interruptions. One of the SBC-GX533's key advantages is the preconfiguration of the Linux image, which preempts the need to build it from scratch. A few of the optional features are TFT, analog touchscreen and Java Technology.
Like other vendors in the diverse hardware arena, Supermicro has upgraded its product line to take advantage of Intel's new Dual-Core Xeon 5100 series processors, aka Woodcrest. The new platform is slated to improve system performance and memory capacity, as well as reduce energy consumption and operating temperatures. Supermicro has leveraged Intel's advances to improve its own systems, or SuperServers, that are based on its X7 series of motherboards. Supermicro claims that the combination of its high-efficiency power supplies and the Woodcrest processors result in “5% or greater efficiency than competitors' systems”, providing energy savings of “up to $200 per server over three years”.
James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal
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