NASA builds world's largest display

NASA has nearly completed what will be the world's largest high-resolution display, dubbed Hyperwall-II, according to Rupak Biswas, chief of advanced supercomputing at the NASA Ames Research Center.

The display should be operational within the month, Biswas said. Biswas spoke yesterday at the High Performance Computer and Communications Conference, held in Newport, R.I., this week.

The Hyperwall-II will be made of 128 LCD monitors, arranged in an 8-by-16 matrix. Collectively, they will generate 245 million pixels, making it, Biswas said, the world's largest screen. At least, it will be the largest display for unclassified material.

This display will, in effect, be used to look at the work generated by Ames' Columbia, a 10,240-processor supercomputer. It will be used to visualize mass amounts of data from satellites and supercomputer simulations. "It can look at it while you are doing your calculations," Biswas said, adding that such visualization will allow researchers to monitor and shape the progress of work as it is being carried out by the supercomputer.

Hyperwall-II could be used to display either one gigantic image, or be split into multiple screens. Powering the display will be a 128-node computational cluster, with 1,024 Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices, as well as 128 graphical display units. The cluster will be capable of 74 trillion floating-point operations per second (TFlops) and will have 450T of storage to stage the data.

The work is an expansion to the first Hyperwall built by Ames' Computational Sciences Division earlier this decade; that display also used off-the-shelf components. It generated 35 million pixels across 49 LCD monitors, arranged in a 7-by-7 matrix. Each screen was driven by a dual-core 2 Ghz AMD Opteron processor.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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