Department of 
Computer Science

Silicon Graphics Advanced Graphics Workstation to Support Six Ongoing Research Projects at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Department of Computer Science Purchases Onyx2 InfiniteReality2 System

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA (March 29, 1999) -- Silicon Graphics, Inc. (NYSE: SGI) today announced that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has purchased a Silicon Graphics® Onyx2 TM multi-pipe InfiniteReality2TM workstation. Partial funding for the Silicon Graphics® advanced graphics system was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The workstation has been installed in UNC's Department of Computer Science to support six ongoing research projects and will be used by UNC's faculty, staff and graduate students focusing on the following principal projects: The nanoManipulator, Augmented Reality for Image-Guided Surgery, Real-Time Walkthroughs of Large Synthetic Environments, Image-Based Rendering, Dynamic Image-Based Modeling and Spatially Immersive Displays and Tracking.

The system, an Onyx2 with eight InfiniteReality2 graphics sub-systems and 32 MIPS® R10000® processors, will give UNC scientists and engineers a true visual supercomputing platform to help solve their most complex research problems. Onyx2TM InfiniteReality2TM combines high-performance visualization, compute and data management technologies in a tightly integrated, highly scalable system, making Onyx2 the only high-performance computing (HPC) platform capable of supporting interactive visualization of the world's largest data sets.

"The department's acquisition of this machine will allow us to pursue research in computer graphics and its applications at a level that is unprecedented for UNC and for most other research centers," said Dr. Henry Fuchs, Federico Gil professor of computer science at UNC. "Rather than having to simulate solutions and extrapolate results from small-scale experiments, we can now tackle full-sized, real-world problems years earlier than would be otherwise possible."

"This represents the next step in a long working relationship with UNC in the area of high-performance visualization," said Dave Orton, senior vice president/general manager, Visual Computing Business Unit, Silicon Graphics. "We believe that some of the most innovative visualization methods in the future will come from the areas of research that Dr. Fuchs and his team are exploring with our Onyx2 InfiniteReality2 workstation."

A member of The Graphics and Visualization Center, the Department of Computer Science at UNC is currently considered a world leader in computer graphics. In 1991, the National Science Foundation (NSF) founded The Graphics and Visualization Center to pursue foundational interdisciplinary research. This center, comprised of UNC and Brown, Cornell, Caltech and Utah universities, is one of 24 NSF Science and Technology Centers with its primary goal being to build a stronger foundation and future for computer graphics and scientific visualization. For more information on the Center, visit:

Six Principal Research Projects Using Silicon Graphics Onyx2 InfiniteReality2

  • The nanoManipulator
    Rendering images of the world at nanometer scales as data come from atomic-force microscopes.

  • Augmented Reality for Image-Guided Surgery
    Augmented reality for applications such as giving the surgeon a view into the body by using images from inside the body, through a laparoscope.

  • Real-Time Walkthroughs of Large Synthetic Environments
    Rendering massive models of complex man-made structures, such as ships and factories, for interactive walkthroughs to examine structures and make design decisions.

  • Image-Based Rendering
    Rendering directly from multiple images of remote real-world scenes, as well as from traditional geometric models.

  • Dynamic Image-Based Modeling & Spatially Immersive Displays - Office of the Future
    Rapidly rendering to large, multi-megapixel displays either head-mounted or covering the walls.

  • Tracking
    Tracking indoors and outdoors for augmented reality.

About Onyx2 InfiniteReality2
Onyx2 InfiniteReality2 is a multiple configuration with 32 processors, 64 gigabytes of memory and eight InfiniteReality visualization pipelines. The Onyx2 InfiniteReality2 workstation achieves scalable performance in both geometry and fill rate through the use of pixel read backs to the host and pixel writes from the host. It is very important to consider the effect of the pixel read backs and writes in the overall system graphics performance. Each InfiniteReality2 pipeline is capable of output to a single monitor or multiple display environment. Additionally, applications can source the power of up to 16 interconnected InfiniteReality2 sub-systems to partition the rendering task among pipelines, resulting in higher frame rates for complex data visualization and the ability to drive ultra-high resolution displays such as Silicon Graphics' RealityCenterTM offerings.

About UNC Department of Computer Science
The primary missions of the Department of Computer Science are graduate teaching and research. The Department offers both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. The university also provides a number of undergraduate programs in the areas of Mathematical Sciences, Applied Science and Computer Science, leading to the Bachelor of Science degree.

The department's research focuses on solving difficult and challenging computer science problems that are part of larger research efforts, mostly outside the field of computer science. UNC is currently collaborating with physicians (in areas including radiology, radiation oncology, psychiatry, neurosurgery, and obstetrics and gynecology), psychologists, statisticians, architects, physicists, chemists, anthropologists, and other researchers at UNC and worldwide.

About Silicon Graphics
Silicon Graphics, Inc. is a leading supplier of visual computing and high-performance systems. The company offers the broadest range of products in the industry -- from low-end desktop workstations to servers and high-end supercomputers. Key industries include communications, energy, entertainment, government, manufacturing and sciences & education. Silicon Graphics and its subsidiaries have offices throughout the world and corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Silicon Graphics, Onyx and InfiniteReality are registered trademarks, and the Silicon Graphics logo, Onyx2, InfiniteReality2 and RealityCenter are trademarks, of Silicon Graphics, Inc. MIPS and R10000 are registered trademarks of MIPS Technologies, Inc. used under license by Silicon Graphics, Inc. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

For additional information, contact:
Claire L. Stone
Publications & Publicity Manager
(919) 962-1790

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Department of Computer Science
Campus Box 3175, Sitterson Hall
College of Arts & Sciences
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3175 USA
Phone: (919) 962-1700
Fax: (919) 962-1799

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Posted: 29 March 1999