As the new Visionary system requires off-the-shelf PCs, rather than the traditional supercomputer often expected of 3D visualisation, both purchase and maintenance costs are exceedingly low
Virtalis has developed the Virtalis Visionary Framework, a technology to get more value from PC clustering.
Although the Visionary Cluster can act on its own, it can also be harnessed to PTC's high end, visualisation software, Division MockUp.
When working in tandem in this way, Virtalis's 'MockUp on a PC Cluster' allows the manipulation of large data models.
As the new Visionary system requires off-the-shelf PCs, rather than the traditional supercomputer often expected of 3D visualisation, both purchase and maintenance costs are exceedingly low.
David Cockburn-Price, Virtalis MD, commented: "Last year, Virtalis moved into the gold tier of the PTC partner advantage programme and was recognised as a preferred supplier for the company's advanced visualisation".
"Since then, Virtalis has revamped the prestigious PTC corporate visit centre theatre, so that it now boasts the latest in PC clustering technology.
"By taking Division MockUp and giving it the ability to be run from a Virtalis PC Visionary Cluster, advanced visualisation is easier to achieve and more accessible than ever before".
The Virtalis Visionary Framework creates a seamless integration between Division MockUp and the cluster.
The solution is also scalable, with three PCs or as many as are required, capable of running both large-scale, projected environments and a headset-wearing, fully tracked individual.
The same model can then be explored simultaneously by both the HMD wearing individual and a group to whom the images are projected in 3D.
Andrew Connell, technical director at Virtalis, explained: "Our whole system will work out at roughly the cost of one to two year's support for a supercomputer, never mind its original cost, and will have low running costs.
"We have written a module that allows multiple PCs to drive large, complex displays at maximum performance.
"By linking our system to Division MockUp, our Virtalis Visionary Cluster is capable of everything that a supercomputer is capable of - blending, geometric distortion correction and image compositing.
"In fact, our graphics performance is even higher, because we have been able to take advantage of the latest in graphics card technology.
"It is not all about speed either.
"The visuals are stunning, because our clients can now take advantage of advanced techniques, such as Open GL shaders".
Elasis, the design subsidiary of Alfa Romeo and Fiat, has been one of the first Virtalis customers to take advantage of the new technology.
Gennaro Monacelli, manager of the MSP group at Elasis, explained: "We have our projected VR environment running at the same time as someone immersed and fully tracked in a head mounted display is part of the shared model.
"Meanwhile, the audience viewing the 3D projected images can see different views on cameras of the tracked individual working inside the virtual model.
"All of this is supported by the PC-based Virtalis Visionary Cluster working with Division MockUp".
Virtalis believes its breakthrough will yield great interest from universities and companies involved in engineering design.
Such organisations use large-scale visualisation systems powered by multi-pipe Unix workstation and operate in sectors where data sets are becoming bigger and bigger and ever more complex.
As with the other Virtalis StereoWorks products, the Visionary System supports the play back of multi-channel, high definition stereo films using Virtalis's StereoServer software.
Virtalis has also written numerous device drivers, so that VR peripherals can be used in conjunction with the system.
These include Immersion's Cybergloves and the latest trackers from Ascension, Intersense and Polhemus.