Team : i3d
Migration from SGI Onyx to PC cluster
The increasing power of PC computers, both in terms of computation and graphics, as well as the cost of graphics computers like SGI Onyx make most virtual reality configuration's owners reconsider the choice of the computers controlling these configurations. A move from an Onyx3 to a cluster of PCs is on the way. The migration has been launched both at the hardware and at the software level.
Since its installation, an SGI Onyx graphics computer controlled the Workbench configuration. After several tests and experimentations on a small PC cluster (2 PCs), a platform composed of four bi-processor workstations connected together through gigabyte fast ethernet on a local area network has been installed. Two of the PCs include very high performance graphics cards with hard genlock and swaplock. This platform is connected to the Workbench and running.
As software migration is in process, the two platforms are currently both in use.
The PC cluster works with the GNU/Linux operating system and cannot execute MiniFly(MiniFly is the i3D software platform, see previous years report for more details on MiniFly.), nor most other virtual reality software platforms developed on SGI Onyx.
Taking benefit of the experience acquired in developing Minifly, a new version for PC cluster is under development. It will be based on OpenSG (OpenSG is a portable scenegraph system to create realtime graphic programs, e.g. for virtual reality applications. More details at http://www.opensg.org.)instead of Performer. VRPN(Taylor II, R.M., ``The Virtual Reality Peripheral Network (VRPN)'', 1998: htmladdnormallink http://www.cs.unc.edu/Research/vrpnhttp://www.cs.unc.edu/Research/vrpn) will be used to manage the various devices. The development of the new software platform has began.