How many graphics boards does it take to let engineers view digital prototypes? Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, CA) answers that question with a scalable visualization center called sv6, displayed with 16 processors and boards at Siggraph 2001. Even at huge format size, the photo-realistic resolution showed clearly, such as on the 6- by 71/2-ft Fakespace Portico Work Wall.
The sv6 consists of a cluster of graphics-enabled workstations housed on racks with hp j6000 and j6700 system PA-RISC processors, boasting clock speeds of 552 MHz and 750 MHz respectively. HP reports that the sv6 can support "virtually unlimited numbers of graphics pipelines" because of the modular nature of the system. A high speed LAN interconnects the processors, and a digital image compositor takes multiple digital video streams, and integrates its data into a single image. The j6000 and j6700 workstations can also perform general-purpose compute cycles.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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