Bunkspeed is a familiar name to CAD users, especially to small and mid-size design shops and engineering houses. Many routinely use its affordable, easy-to-use rendering package SHOT to turn 3D models into photorealistic images. Previously known as HyperShot, the product was once powered by Luxion’s CPU-driven rendering technology, but in late 2009, it switched to mental images‘ iray engine, a GPU-driven technology. This added in SHOT the options to render on CPU, GPU, or both (hybrid mode). Since mental images is a wholly owned subsidiary of NVIDIA, Bunkspeed also becomes part of the GPU fan club.
Circulating in a different sphere, RTT (Realtime Technology) sells its sophisticated augmented reality solutions the enterprise crowd. The RTT DeltaGen software suite, for instance, comes with the RTT RealView module, which lets automakers visualize and interact with digital prototypes in physical space, using physical navigation devices (such as tablets). This creates a mixed reality environment in which automakers may inspect how a new hood that exists only in the digital realm might look like on a current model. Unlike making such inspections using rendered still images or animation sequences, RTT’s technology allows such studies to take place in real-time with instant feedback based on user interaction.
The matchmaker for RTT and Bunkspeed might have been their mutual commitment to GPU computing, a market led by NVIDIA. Both presented their products at NVIDIA’s headquarter in Santa Clara, California, during the launch of a new line of Fermi-class Quadro cards (Quadro 4000, 5000, 6000, and Quadro Plex 7000). Like Bunkspeed, RTT has recently signed on to license mental images’ rendering technology to power its product line (the agreement was announced in March 2010).
This week, RTT bought a majority stake in Bunkspeed. In the official announcement, RTT’s cofounder and director Ludwig Fuchs said, “Bunkspeed and RTT have each established unique positions within their market segments. While RTT addresses process-oriented 3D visualization solutions for larger corporations, Bunkspeed has established an excellent offering for quick visualization tools at an attractive price point. From a strategic point of view, we see the collaboration with Bunkspeed as a great addition to our portfolio.”
Bunkspeed users need not worry that the product might become inaccessible under the reign of enterprise-focused RTT. “We’re not going to change either company as a result of this acquisition,” said Peter Stevenson, COO of RTT USA. “[Bunkspeed] will continue to function on its own. Day to day, RTT and Bunkspeed will continue down their separate paths, [serving] two different markets.”
In the background, however, RTT and Bunkspeed plan to pool their resources to pursue shared R&D efforts, covering more grounds with less.
“Our software used to be one large master suite, DeltaGen,” noted Stevensen. “We’re breaking it up now into different modules.” One of the latest modules to emerge from RTT is RTT RealFluid, for visualizing computer-aided fluid and flow analysis results within a photo-realistic environment. (One important distinction: RealFluid is not an analysis program like those from MSC Software or ANSYS; it allows you to import your analysis results and CAD geometry into the same package to view it in an interactive environment.)
Today, most renderers are driven by either CPU or GPU, observed Stevensen. “What we would like to do is to include two ore more renderers to allow [our clients] to pick and choose from. Going to the next level, the software will look at your machine and use the appropriate renderer for the job.” Bunkspeed SHOT currently allows users to render on CPU, GPU, or in a hybrid mode, an approach that fits into RTT’s strategy.
As RTT loosenens its purse strings for Bunkspeed, RTT itself is also getting a fresh infusion of cash, from none other than the German manufacturing titan Siemens. RTT’s “continuous double-digit growth since its inception in 1999” convinced Siemens Venture Capital (SVC) to participate, according to RTT’s announcement. SVC’s investment in RTT amounts to a 10% stake, according to Stevensen.
“SVC has the means and the know-how to bring RTT to the next level. We look forward to starting this new era of our company’s development, which will offer us additional growth opportunities,” stated RTT’s Fuchs. SVC is the seed fund that comes from the parent company of Siemens PLM Software, the division responsible for developing and marketing high-end 3D modeler NX.