Friday, 23 March 2012

Graphics Cards - Optimus technology

Some of the newer laptops that are coming through often have a feature called Optimus technology enabled. More details can be found here on what Optimus technology is.

Whilst this is great technology, it can play havoc with your design software, often using the wrong card to driver the software. So what can you do to ensure that your software is using the better graphics card in your laptop? Whilst you could use the drivers to manage the software, often the results are not what you expect. Therefore, you need to boot into the bios and turn off the Optimus technology feature; this will disable the Intel card and force the Nvidia card to be used instead.

The Optimus technology acts as a switch between the 2 video cards. One screen would use Intel and the other Nvidia. When the laptop is not docked in a docking station, the Intel card is the preferred card to save on power consumption. Unfortunately, we don’t care about the power savings and want Revit to perform. Disabling the Optimus switching mechanism forces the computer to use the Nvidia card in all hardware profiles. It’d be nice if Optimus could auto-negotiate which card to use based on the power needs, but sadly is doesn’t.

Once you have disabled the Optimus technology you will need to do a couple of restarts to get windows to reinstall the Nvidia drivers. It should be noted that not all of  laptops have these dual card installed, but where you do have them, disabling Optimus, without doubt helps.

Why Windows in Revit Don’t Cut it.

Brok Howard, BIM manager for our St Louis office gives some advice on why windows don’t cut.

We ran into an issue last week where a window family was not cutting in plan as would be expected. For example purposes I will demonstrate what was happening and why this might happen with your window content. I will use the out of the box content that ships with Revit if you want to follow along. It also starts to address how this might be useful for some instances.

In the example below we have three windows, each at different sill heights.

The first one cuts as expected, the second is going through the sill and the third is above the cut plane of the view. The view is set to 4’-0” and in the elevation above I am showing where this is cut in the view.


Again, this would be as expected. If we move the cut plane in the view up, so it only cuts the second two windows, we no longer see the window below in plan.


No, for the interesting part of how windows work. The assumption we have made so far is that when you move the view range cut plan that is what is changing the way the window is being cut. Let’s investigate this further by opening up this family.

Opening the family and then looking at the Floor Line view shows us this.


Notice on the Properties pallet we do not see any information about a cut plane. clip_image008

Now click where the Family:Windows drop down menu in the this section and change it to Floor Plan:Floor Line, now you are seeing the view propery settings.


Now click on View Range. You will find that the default Cut Plane for this view is set to 4’-0”, same as the model.


Let’s now change this to 7’-0”.


The other thing we are going to change is we are going to remove the symbolic lines in the family so we are seeing the real solid geometry.

And finally we are going change the default sill height to 6’-0”. You should end up with something that looks like this.


When we load this new family into the project we end up losing the second windows in plan. This is due to the fact that the symbolic lines were really what was being represented in plan, not the window. What we are seeing is the opening from the family.

Now, we will go back to the family and change the geometry to now show in plan by selecting them and changing the settings to show in plan.


Now we are seeing the family in its true modeled elements.

Note that now we are seeing the third window. Why are we able to see the window with the cut plane set to 4’-0”?


Because windows are not really cutting. They use the internal cutplane in the family in combination with symbolic lines.

But why is this? If you go to the Visibilty/Graphics Settings it clearly shows the option to cut them?


Now we will change the cut plane in the model to match the cut plane of the one in the family.


We see the geometry but not what you would think, now select one of the windows. All the detail is there, but we only see it as if it was not cutting.


Now change the default sill height in the family back to 3’-0” and the cut plane back to 4’-0” and reload the family back into the project. Now change the floor plan view range back to 4’-0”. What you get is this.


Until window families are really, truly cutable geometry this is what you will get. And if you have ever created window content from scratch, this will be important to keep in mind because you will need to make all your window geometry content not show in plan and not cutable, then use symbolic lines to make them show correct in plan.

This is the farthest family from BIM that I have found so far, it would be good if Autodesk addresses issues like then rather than create workarounds. But at least now you are equipped with the WHY on windows.