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Data Rendered into Art in Seconds by Sandia National Laboratories

Photonics.com
Jul 2001
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., July 13 -- A 10-foot-high, 13-foot-wide screen that -- according to Sandia National Laboratories -- makes high-definition television look as grainy as an old TV in a cheap motel has been unveiled by the national security laboratory.

Sandia’s David Logsted checking the alignment of 16 digitized projectors that create an image on a 20-million-pixel screen.

    The facility's digitized images, created of 20 million pixels, approach the visual acuity of the eye itself. "The eyeball is the limiting factor, not the screen," said manager and program leader Philip Heermann. "From ten feet away, the image is as good as your eyes are able to see." The new screen is not only the clearest but according to Heermann, the fastest in the world at rendering complex scientific data sets.
    Each image, though representing scientific data, resembles a work by an old Dutch master who has met Jackson Pollock. The swirling images are as crowded yet detailed as if every ear of corn on a 100-acre farm were caught in a single image by a camera at 21,000 feet. The images are expected to allow scientists a better view of complicated systems. Sandia's immediate needs are to improve understanding of complex situations like crashes and fires, but the facility is also valuable for microsystems, nanotechnology and biological explorations.
    The Sandia images are created through massively parallel imaging, which could be thought of as the kid brother of massively parallel computing -- a method of orchestrating the individual outputs of many desktop computers to produce a combined output faster than a very complex, single supercomputer. In this case, the image is not created from a single graphics card but instead through the orchestrated outputs of 64 computers splitting data into 16 screens arranged as a 4 by 4 set.


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