Pro/DESKTOP 8 Hardware Requirements


OpenGL Hardware Acceleration for Pro/DESKTOP


Pro/DESKTOP has been built to take advantage of hardware implementations of OpenGL. With suitable OpenGL graphics hardware, you can enjoy the benefits of greater responsiveness when working with large models and assemblies. With Pro/DESKTOP you can turn on some additional productivity enhancing features, for example workplanes show as glass and smooth view animation. You will find these in the Options dialog under the Tools menu.

In order to gain the performance benefits offered by an OpenGL accelerated graphics board, you need to ensure that the configuration settings for the board match the requirements made by Pro/DESKTOP. In most cases, if not all the requirements are met, then Pro/DESKTOP will fall back to the software implementation of OpenGL and the performance will be equivalent to not having an OpenGL graphics card installed. Therefore, it is important to exercise care in choosing the display settings for the graphics card.

We provide a list of qualified OpenGL boards and driver versions which is updated regularly. We encourage you to visit this resource for up-to-date information regarding the status of graphics drivers.

If you have just bought a graphics card, you will have been given a driver, probably on a floppy disk or CDROM. Graphics drivers tend to be updated frequently with continuing improvements and all manufacturers have their own web site providing free driver updates. We encourage you to update your driver from the web. Since we can only qualify a limited number of boards with a corresponding limited number of driver versions, you may well be using a board or be running a driver version not on our qualified list. Use the information on this page to help you determine what settings affect Pro/DESKTOP.

Pro/DESKTOP Requirements

Pro/DESKTOP Requirements for OpenGL

Pro/DESKTOP requires the following minimum requirements to enable acceleration:

Graphics performance will be improved further by the existence of an overlay plane with at least 2 color bits. In particular, an overlay plane improves pre-selection highlighting and dynamics. Some cards support an overlay plane at lower resolutions, but due to a limited memory resource, do not support one at higher resolutions. Pro/DESKTOP may still run at the higher resolution but there may be a trade-off with dynamics performance.

Display Settings

We have provided below a brief glossary of terms that you might encounter when dealing with a graphics card's display options and how they may affect Pro/DESKTOP. The generic display settings - color depth, resolution and monitor refresh frequency - can be set from the Display Control Panel applet which is best launched by selecting Properties on the right mouse button menu over the desktop. Refer to your graphics card manual for more specific options relating to the hardware. You may find these presented as an additional tab in the Display Control Panel applet.


A generic screen setting. Although Pro/DESKTOP will run at any resolution, this setting usually has a major impact on the other settings for an OpenGL card and can affect performance significantly. Some OpenGL cards are optimized for a particular resolution or range of resolutions. Most graphics cards contain a fixed amount of memory that is used for a number of different buffers required for rendering scenes in OpenGL. Because of this, some cards may not be able to support double buffering, overlay planes or stencil buffers at higher resolutions. Therefore, by raising the resolution, you may inadvertently disable graphics acceleration. This setting should be adjusted alongside other settings such as the color depth, refresh frequency and z-buffer depth.

Refresh Frequency

A generic screen setting. This setting has no direct impact on Pro/DESKTOP, but depending on the monitor, the speed of the graphics card DAC, and the chosen color depth, you may be restricted to lower refresh frequencies at higher resolutions. Alternatively, you may want to upgrade your monitor if it cannot support the refresh rate at your preferred resolution and color depth.

Color Depth

A generic screen setting. Pro/DESKTOP requires at least 15 bits of color depth. This may be presented as "High Color", 65536 colors or even 32768 colors. Setting the color depth to "True Color" (=24 bit depth) will improve the shading quality of scenes, particularly Photo Album views. True Color may only be supported if you have enough memory on the card or you are using a lower resolution. Some cards insist that "True Color" be set in order to enable overlay planes. On some other cards, the color depth is stated as 32 bits, but this actually relates to a 24 bit main buffer and an 8 bit overlay plane.

Depth Buffer or Z-buffer Depth

The depth buffer is used to hold depth information (the Z coordinate) for each pixel rendered to the scene. This buffer is used to implement hidden line and hidden surface removal. Pro/DESKTOP requires a 16 bit depth buffer for both Design and Drawing windows. However, when rendering certain very large, complex assemblies, you may see small artifacts in the shaded image. These will be avoided by the use of a larger depth buffer if your graphics card supports it.

Double Buffering

Pro/DESKTOP requires a double buffered main frame buffer. Among other things, double buffering is responsible for smooth display of changing scenes and fast repainting after highlighting. The way that the front and back buffers are swapped is important to Pro/DESKTOP and varies according to the OpenGL implementation. Without an overlay plane, buffer swapping is assumed to be done by copying the back buffer to the front buffer leaving the back buffer intact. With an overlay plane, buffer swapping is assumed to be done by exchanging the buffers' entire contents. If an option to control the buffer swap behavior is present, then you may need to adjust it to rectify any problems you experience when not using an overlay plane.

Overlay Plane

Overlay planes are supported by some OpenGL cards. An overlay plane is a separate buffer that allows graphics to be layered on top of the main buffer. If an overlay plane is present that supports at least 2 bits of color, Pro/DESKTOP uses it to display pre-selection highlighted graphics and dynamic graphics during the creation and modification of objects. From build 318 onwards, Pro/DESKTOP does not require an overlay plane in order to get accelerated graphics, but an overlay plane will improve performance for pre-selection highlighting and dynamics. If an overlay plane is not being used, the implementation of swapping the front and back buffers must be done by copying. If an option to control the buffer swap behavior is present, then you may need to adjust it to rectify any problems you experience when not using an overlay plane.

Stencil Buffer

Pro/DESKTOP uses the stencil buffer to display clipped drawing views. Stencil buffers are not used in Design windows. For Drawing views, a 4 bit stencil buffer is required. Without this, Drawing windows will not be accelerated, but Design windows may still benefit from accelerated graphics.

Texture or Bitmap Settings

Pro/DESKTOP does not currently perform any texture mapping and so all options related to this can either be turned off or ignored. Some cards share their on-board memory between the frame buffers and texture buffers. Therefore, by turning off texture settings, you may be able to free up resources for greater resolution or color depth.

Pixel Format

This is not an option or a term that you will likely see presented in a user interface. It is an OpenGL term that is referred to in the GLtest program supplied for diagnostics. When a Design or Drawing window is opened, Pro/DESKTOP selects a pixel format that is best suited to the type of graphics that will be drawn to that window. This process selectively picks one of the pixel formats that is offered by the OpenGL implementation. If none of the hardware pixel formats match the requirements demanded by Pro/DESKTOP, then the selection process will naturally fall back to select one of the pixel formats with a Generic implementation (see below).

Generic Driver

This is not an option or a term that you will likely see presented in a user interface. It refers to the software driver that is provided by Microsoft to implement OpenGL upon the Windows graphical interface, called GDI. The generic driver requires no specific OpenGL hardware to run as its display driver is integrated with the GDI display driver. An OpenGL board will typically provide its own driver that replaces the generic driver. This type of board has the potential of accelerating all parts of the OpenGL pipeline. Some 3D graphics cards accelerate a smaller set of functions and their drivers intercept calls under the generic driver. With such a graphics card, the GLtest program will indicate a GENERIC implementation and report no acceleration even though rendering performance may be improved significantly.

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