Shaping the Future of Mobile CAD with Shapr3D

Thursday 5/11/23 08:28am
Posted By Rami Husseini
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Snapdragon and Qualcomm branded products are products of
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Today, most of us don’t think much about how the products we buy were designed. But behind the scenes, product design is one of the most crucial steps in bringing physical products to life. Fortunately there are a select few who do think a lot about product design including Akos Kapui, CTO of Shapr3D, a company focused on 3D modeling tools for design and manufacturing professionals. Since 2015, the company has been developing their Shapr3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) software and takes pride in building a product that combines robust computing power with an elegant, sleek UI. More generally, their mission aligns with a noble vision from their About page which states: “We don’t want to be something for everyone, we want to be everything for some people”.

In this blog post we catch up with Akos to learn how they ported Shapr3D to Windows on Snapdragon (WoS) and the benefits the platform brings in shaping the future of mobile CAD.

An Industry Shaped by Innovation
Akos says that in the 1960’s, product design was one of the first industries to make use of high-performance computing. And while CAD has been in use for several decades now, it hasn’t seen any significant changes in the last 20 years. CAD requires powerful CPUs, GPUs, and large amounts of memory which makes processing workloads very complicated. In the past, this meant that CAD programs were relegated to powerful Windows desktop PCs.

But with advances in mobile having transformed how we communicate, work, and share information, Akos and his team recognized the potential to deliver CAD in a different way. He says today’s mobile processors like the Snapdragon Mobile Compute Platforms, are both powerful and energy efficient, a combination that reflects the future of computing. With Windows in use by over 95% of the CAD industry, Microsoft’s OS is a major platform for the company. This is where Snapdragon platforms help the company deliver on their core values around strong performance and enabling users who are on the go.

Akos notes that Shapr3D’s users often find themselves designing on the go or making final tweaks to 3D models before production (e.g., right on the workshop floor). So as his team worked to bring Shapr3D to as many devices as possible, they wanted to deliver the same smooth experience on portable Windows devices. Thanks to Windows on Snapdragon, the team could now support both low- and high-end devices, and deliver optimal rendering and compute performance for all of their users.

Akos says that supporting apps across multiple devices and architectures usually comes with trade-offs, but supporting Windows on Snapdragon has been fairly straight forward. Shapr3D was initially launched as a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app, uses OpenGL, and already supported multiple processors. Aside from common porting issues (e.g., differences in how platforms handle data types), the team didn’t hit any major surprises or roadblocks.

One area of focus revolved around handling non-native 64-bit dependencies. Where possible, the team pushed the authors of those dependencies to implement them as native solutions. For cases where this wasn’t possible, the team encapsulated their usage behind an interface and split the implementation based on the platform. They also took advantage of the Windows on Snapdragon x86 emulation to run external Win32 libraries which Shapr3D communicates with. That way, the majority of the app remains native 64-bit, with only some parts relying on Snapdragon x86 emulation.

For other developers interested in porting to WoS, Akos advises that they invest in the technology foundation early on, and use continuous integration (CI) to facilitate updates and changes to their code bases. Going forward, Akos would like to see organizations who modify open source libraries to work natively on Windows on Snapdragon, push their changes back to their repos. This would help other companies and build the Windows on Snapdragon developer community.

Port your WoS app Today!
We’re excited and proud to play a part in bringing Windows experiences to new devices powered by Snapdragon.

Interested in porting your app? Developers build and port apps to WoS using Windows Dev Kit 2023 powered by our Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 Compute Platform. It provides a rich feature set for Windows developers including:

  • Potential multi-day battery life for long user runtimes.
  • Power-efficient Qualcomm Kryo CPU with the option to dynamically balance power and performance.
  • Qualcomm Adreno GPU to drive powerful graphics with DirectX and OpenGL.
  • Qualcomm Hexagon DSP for dedicated hardware-accelerated AI.
  • 5G and WiFi6 connectivity.
  • Local development and debugging through a native version of Visual Studio.

As more users discover the benefits of Windows on Snapdragon, the list of Windows mobile compute devices powered by Snapdragon continues to grow. And as more developers discover the ease of porting their apps, the number of apps available in the Windows App Store is also increasing.

Ready to build or port your Windows app to Windows on Snapdragon and experience the future of computing? Check out Qualcomm Developer Network to learn more.

Snapdragon and Qualcomm branded products are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.