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.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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