Researchers try visual area networking

Don Middleton

Tom Fedor

The National Center for Atmospheric Research has built a visual area network to view the results of computations of large data sets.

Collaborators are able to move compressed images of the data sets, instead of the sets themselves, around the network.

Don Middleton, head of NCAR's Visualization and Emerging Technologies Section in Boulder, Colo., said the center last fall acquired a 10-processor SGI Onyx 3800 visualization system with four graphics pipes.

Researchers use the visual area network to send the graphics generated by NCAR's supercomputers to their desktop systems for individual work.

OpenGL VizServer software compresses the frames for Ethernet transmission and decompresses them at the destination.

'It's a practical approach for very large data sets,' Middleton said. 'Move the pictures, don't move the data.'

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