Immersive Visualization Continues To Revolutionize Decision-Making For Multidisciplinary Teams in the Sciences, Energy, Manufacturing and Government
Silicon Graphics celebrates the 10th anniversary of the July 14, 1994 launch of the SGI® Reality Center® immersive visualization environment. The popular visualization solution is ideally suited for cross functional teams wishing to collaborate and is a key technology enabling project teams to transition to a multi-disciplinary approach. Currently there are 670 SGI Reality Center environments across the globe in key SGI target markets. These include oil and gas exploration, pharmaceutical research and development, automobile and product manufacturing, the sciences, museums and academia, as well as diverse government, weather forecasting and homeland security applications.
At the heart of every Reality Center facility is the SGI® Onyx® family of visual supercomputers, the world's most powerful and scalable visualization engines. SGI Onyx family systems are the only supercomputers designed for visual supercomputing and for simultaneously processing 3D graphics, imaging and video data in real time. Based on the acclaimed SGI® NUMAflex™ architecture, the SGI Onyx family provides the industry's richest feature set, including clip mapping, texture paging, volume rendering, and anti-aliased full-frame HDTV display. Each Onyx visual supercomputer is a highly configurable, highly scalable, shared-memory system controlled from a mouse and keypad and designed from the ground up to support immersive visualization in a variety of configurations and integrated display solutions. The Reality Center environment's atmosphere of immediacy leads to swifter arrival at consensus, which translates immediately into accelerated workflow, faster problem solving, and thereby immense cost savings.
Ten years ago, the SGI Reality Center environment was originally conceived as an overall solution architecture designed to address the fundamental human needs of how to make decisions, how to understand problems, how to communicate and collaborate. It was a major shift in the way people used computer graphics, moving from a research environment to commercial industrial usage.
"The Reality Center environment was created to solve complex problems as transparently as possible, to overcome the limitations of the individual workstation," said Prof. David Hughes, Manager of Advanced Visualization at SGI, and original creator of the SGI Reality Center environment. "The fundamental tenet behind Reality Center was that it was about teamwork. It was about improving productivity, about improving communication, about bringing people together again to solve problems. Once we launched the SGI Reality Center environment we discovered that customers—regardless of what business they came from: oil and gas, or manufacturing, or a museum, or in scientific research—they all found that these basic needs were met with this architecture."
SGI Reality Center solutions were rapidly adopted in Europe and the U.S., and now other parts of the world are harnessing the technology. Four Reality Center environments have recently been built in Mexico to aid in oil exploration. China is also using the immersive environment for oil and gas exploration in addition to powering a state-of-the-art planetarium. Australia has taken Reality Centers facilities in another direction: to train Australian Rail employees on railroad safety and emergency procedures while RMIT University in Melbourne uses their Reality Center for revenue generation. SGI Reality Centers facilities are being installed at top university and research organizations in India, and Malaysia's Dr. Mahathir Mohammad's Multimedia Super Corridor has already installed an SGI Reality Center at its very heart.
"Over the past 10 years, SGI Reality Center customers have used their immersive visualization environments to revolutionize research, development and production processes across entire industries," said Bob Bishop, Chairman and CEO, SGI. "We are encouraged by the role SGI Reality Centers have played in drug discovery, space travel, product design safety, and environmental protection—all achieved in ways we could hardly have conceived of 10 years ago. The SGI Reality Center is truly a tool to accelerate the future."
SGI Reality Center Customers Revolutionize Their Industries
Some recent examples of the advances achieved by SGI Reality Center customers include Statoil, AstraZeneca, Daimler Chrysler, NASA and The British Museum:
SGI is currently working on the next-generation Reality Center environment, which will greatly improve current and new customers' ability to make decisions, accelerate workflow, improve communications, and enable collaboration, through transparent universal access to scalable computer processing and visualization power, across organizations.
- Statoil, the largest petroleum operator on the Norwegian continental shelf installed SGI® Onyx® 3000 family-based supercomputers in March 2004, as part of an SGI Reality Center environment in its first Onshore Support Center. Scientists, engineers, and management can now see what the operators on the North Sea oil platforms see, provided by real-time data feeds via fiber optic cable, broadband radio-linked communication, and sub-surface sensor transmissions.
"This new entity puts Statoil among the leaders for implementing new and existing technology," said Svein Omdal, HNO-Stjørdal Visualization & Onshore Support Centre, Statoil. "It could improve recovery by 19 million barrels of oil—worth some 3 billion Norwegian Kroner [more than US $428.5 million over a 5 year period]—through optimal well positioning for optimum recovery. This new way of working can also reduce costs during the drilling process. By using the better support from onshore and better collaboration between offshore and onshore personnel, we feel that we can become more efficient in the drilling process, and that we can save drilling days in the project. We selected SGI because of our prior experience with their high-end visualization products and because they continue to be market leaders in the visualization compute area for oil and gas recovery. It was important for us at Statoil to continue that good work."
- AstraZeneca, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, purchased an SGI Reality Center facility in Sept. 2002, for its research and development lab in Södertälje, Sweden. The Reality Center facility was chosen for its high-performance graphics and stereoscopic visualization. The facility's immersive visualization capabilities empower a variety of drug discovery research projects, with molecular modeling and computational chemistry at the top of the list.
"Following the purchase of an SGI Reality Center facility one year ago for our research and development site in Mölndal, Sweden, our Södertälje lab asked SGI to propose a solution for an additional visualization facility, and we worked together on an assessment study," said AstraZeneca Project Leader Sven Hellberg. "The SGI Reality Center facility offers a high level of interactivity with very large visual data sets, such as large molecules, and will greatly enhance the speed of the decision-making process between our cross-collaborative scientific teams."
- DaimlerChrysler purchased an SGI Reality Center facility in July 2002, to expand the auto manufacturer's Virtual Reality Center (VRC), located at the heart of the Mercedes Technology Center (MTC), in Sindelfingen, Germany. The purchase brings the total number of SGI immersive visualization facilities within the automotive giant to 53 systems worldwide. With SGI Reality Center facilities, DaimlerChrysler has successfully integrated virtual reality technology throughout its new vehicle product development process.
As DaimlerChrysler's VRC head Thomas Jäger stated, "Our goals have been attained faster than we expected. Thanks to the VR application, we were able to generate double-digit percentage savings in cost of physical prototypes and development times. This motivated us to devote ourselves to quantitatively and qualitatively expanding the possibilities of the VRC. The benefits are obvious. In addition, the community of users within the MTC is growing as well."
- NASA unveiled an exciting new SGI Reality Center visualization theater in March 2004, following the landings of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers. Housed in the Mars Center at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., the new Reality Center facility is capable of immersing audiences in interactive 3D visualizations, multimedia presentations, and panoramic images that can be navigated in real time, enabling visitors to take a virtual walk on Mars. Featuring a curved display measuring 14 feet tall and 36 feet wide, the new Reality Center facility is the largest of its kind on the West Coast.
"We are delighted to be able to showcase NASA's numerous achievements in the new SGI Reality Center," said NASA Ames Research Center Director G. Scott Hubbard. "This will be an invaluable information and educational tool for our Mars Center. The NASA Mars Center is a resounding success, allowing anyone to virtually stand on the Red Planet and take in its alien landscape, As we work on future NASA exploration and research missions, including human spaceflight, we look forward to continued collaborations with SGI."
- The British Museum has installed a 13 feet tall and 42 feet wide curved screen SGI Reality Center that will allow visitors to virtually unwrap an Egyptian mummy.