August 28, 2006
64-bit GIS for Windows
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! Certainly much discussion has revolved around the ripples sent out to the consumer market by geographic exploration systems such as Virtual Earth or Google Earth. But what about the middle market, those who are computer savvy but not necessarily geospatially aware? Read about a 64-bit GIS for Windows that targets that community of users in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Top News of the Week, Announcements, Contract Awards, Awards, People, New Products, Letters to the Editor and Upcoming Events.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

64-bit GIS for Windows

by Susan Smith

The gaming industry seems to have made an impact on all aspects of the computer industry. Teenagers buy up games in 64-bit architecture, and now 64-bit architectures are becoming commonplace in the geospatial industry. A 64-bit GIS for Windows promises to reach a broader community of users who are not traditional GIS users.

Certainly much discussion has revolved around the ripples sent out to the consumer market by geographic exploration systems such as Virtual Earth or Google Earth. But what about the middle market, those who are computer savvy but not necessarily geospatially aware? is a company that addresses those users, offering an accessible, powerful GIS for those Windows users who want to be able to use geospatial information. Manifold System which is now in its 7x release, is dubbed “the world's first 64-bit GIS for Windows.”

Recently came out with their 7.00 release. The release reads and writes approximately 80 file formats. The enterprise edition provides simultaneous access to Oracle, IBM and Microsoft from a single application. These companies offered free versions of their databases on DVD included with the release. Additionally, Manifold integrates GIS with Oracle Spatial, it can now modify geometry and attributes and store in other databases and applications, and integrate with Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps and Virtual Earth.

Version 7x goes one step further with its 64-bit GIS for Windows. According to Dimitri Rotow, product manager, “We saw the transition to 64-bit about a year ago. When AMD came out with their 64-bit architectures and beta editions of 64-bit Windows became widely dispersed, we saw the cutover when professional GIS users pretty much stopped buying 32-bit hardware. The PCs they were procuring were all dual core 64-bit. If you look at those machines these days, a 64-bit dual core machine costs the same as an ordinary 32-bit machine, so why would you buy the lesser one?” The 64-bit performance opens users up to the latest advances in modern processors and Microsoft Windows advances.

The new release supports multi-core and multi-processor motherboards and is ready for use on AMD's “4x4” quad core processor initiative and Intel Core 2 Duo family 64-bit processors. The larger memory space and processing performance is really necessary for geospatial with its large aerial and satellite images, and digital terrain models which are often gigabyte sized.

Manifold is the brainchild of a group who were originally at Intel, including Rotow, who was a product manager of their workstation operation. They did a supercomputer joint venture with the Department of Defense, which was titled “the world's fastest computer.” “I helped organize the team of mathematicians and programmers to tune up the mathematics and do the math libraries for that machine,” said Rotow. “Those guys ended up starting Manifold.”

Manifold's market penetration is in this new market of people doing GIS in the private sector who are using Microsoft Office, according to Rotow. “The 500 million people in the world who use Microsoft Office is the mainstream audience for Manifold 7x. Of those there is a population of 50 million who are perfectly capable of using a GIS package to explore their data to do lightweight analysis and really killer presentations. Of that group, there are probably 5 million who are experts on computer technology, who can write code in Visual Studio and Those are our customers.” The person who will spend under $500 for Microsoft Office which includes Access, PowerPoint, Excel,
and Word is not going to buy an application the size of ArcView for over $100, in Rotow's view. He is reluctant to divulge how many actual seats Manifold has, or what the sales figures are to date.

Manifold has its own IMS map service which costs $200, whereas competing IMS products can cost upwards of $12,000. A web server has a lot of sessions coming in and requires effortless pick up of performance. Sessions can be run between more than one processor on the same motherboard in Manifold.

Manifold has the ability to dynamically connect to a host of different image servers, and is easy to use. You tell it to grab the U.S. from Google Earth and live imagery is streamed in. If you want to zoom down to a particular city, you can. This is done on the fly, automatically.

In addition, Manifold also includes the server, so users don't have to buy a separate application. When you buy a Manifold license, IMS is built in. The Manifold IMS Server can function as a conventional http server the way people routinely use ArcIMS, or it can function as an image server, the way TerraServer, Virtual Earth and Google Earth servers do, or as an OGC WMS Server, using the Open Geospatial Consortium WMS standard, or the OGC WFS Feature Server with transactions so that you can serve vector layers through Manifold IMS. You can have clients that connect to those being able to post back to edit those vector layers.

7x highlights include:

- Native Oracle Spatial read/write/edit, where Manifold Enterprise editions ($445) and above can connect directly to Oracle Spatial DBMS using Oracle's native Oracle Call Interface for read/write/editing of drawings in SDO_ Geometry or images or surfaces in georaster storage types.

- Concurrent, multi-user editing which enables thousands of Manifold users to simultaneously work with the same drawing stored in a centralized DBMS such as SQL Server, Oracle, or IBM DB2.

- Database Administrator Consol and Batch Export aid IT administrators and users in implementation.

- Fully licensed installations of Oracle Express, Microsoft SQL Server Express and IBM DB2 Express-C editions are delivered on a Manifold DVD at no extra cost.

- Multi-core, multi-processor capabilities/quad core ready allow Manifold 7x's numerous subsystems such as rendering image libraries and IMS and DBMS connectivity to dispatch images to different processors and connect to different databases.

The Future

“Ultimately we would like Manifold to be totally multithreading and multiprocessing throughout, so that even in the simplest case where, say an individual user wants to reproject a very large drawing, but they have to have five to twenty computer systems on their local area network available. When you work in an office, there are 10 machines that are not being used while people are out to lunch,” Rotow pointed out. “It would be great if you wanted to reproject a large drawing and your system would automatically know that there were these other machines in the organization that are not currently being used. We could dispatch part of the job to them. Probably within the next
six months, you'll see that coming out of Manifold, a full bore automatic clustering thing.”


Manifold Personal x64 starts at $295 while Manifold 7x Enterprise x64 is $445 and delivers complete 64-bit enterprise capabilities which include enterprise server applications, direct concurrent multi-user connections to Oracle Spatial and 64-bit Manifold IMS for Internet Map Server applications.

User Comments

Readers can keep abreast of what's going on in the community on the discussion group Some frequently cited features enjoyed by users other than those listed above and the obvious ones like price and ease of use, include projections, the ability to write programs in Manifold by using almost any language, ability to edit images and maintain the geography, ability to store data inside the GIS Project, and Manifold drawing tools.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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