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Kuester is the Calit2 Professor of Visualization and Virtual Reality, and associate professor in the Jacobs School of Engineering's departments of Structural Engineering, as well as Computer Science and Engineering. He also leads the Graphics, Visualization and Virtual Reality Lab (GRAVITY), which is developing the HIPerSpace technology.
Calit2's expanded HIPerSpace is an ultra-scale visualization environment developed on a multi-tile paradigm. The system features 70 high-resolution Dell 30-inch displays, arranged in 14 columns of five displays each. Each "tile" has a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels, bringing the combined, visible resolution to 35,640 by 8,000 pixels, or more than 286.7 million pixels in all. "By using larger, high-resolution tiles, we also have minimized the amount of space taken up by the frames, or bezels, of each display," said Kuester. "Bezels will eventually disappear, but until then, we can reduce their distraction by keeping the highest possible ratio of screen area to each tile's bezel." Including the pixels hidden behind the bezels of each display, which give the "French door" appearance, the effective total image size is 348 million pixels.
At 31.8 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall (9.7m x 2.3m), the HIPerSpace already is being used by a wide range of research groups at UC San Diego, which want to be able to view their largest data sets while also drilling down to the smallest elements on the same screen. A team from the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) went to Florence to laser-scan the main hall of the Palazzo Vecchio, and the center's researchers at Calit2 now can manipulate the computer model, depicting all 2.5 billion data points and explore the space in real time. Other scientists model the impact of seismic activity on structures, climate-change predictions, and structure of the human brain, to name a few such applications.
To run simulations and explore data interactively, the developers of the HIPerSpace have built into the environment a large computer and graphics processing cluster. The wall is powered by 18 Dell XPS 710/720 computers with Intel quad-core central processing units (CPUs) and dual NVIDIA FX5600 graphics processing units (GPUs). A head node and six streaming nodes complete the hardware pool for a total of 100 processor cores and 38 GPUs. Thus the HIPerSpace system offers roughly 20 teraflops of peak processing power and 10 terabytes of storage, but its access to computing and storage capacity increases dramatically because the wall is an integral part of the National Science Foundation-funded OptIPuter infrastructure on, and beyond, the UCSD campus, including the so-called "OptIPortal" tiled display systems (some with as few as four tiles) that are the primary end-point for scientists using the infrastructure.
"The HIPerSpace is the largest OptIPortal in the world," said Calit2 Director Larry Smarr, a pioneer of supercomputing applications and principal investigator on the OptIPuter project. "The wall is connected by high-performance optical networking to the remote OptIPortals worldwide, as well as all of the compute and storage resources in the OptIPuter infrastructure, creating the basis for an OptIPlanet Collaboratory."