Issue No.03 - May/June (2009 vol.29)
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MCG.2009.54
This article looks at new hardware and software products and tools related to computer graphics.
CSI-Style Video Enhancement
MotionDSP's vReveal is a Windows application that fixes common problems afflicting consumer-generated video. The company says the program features "CSI-style" super-resolution technology adapted from forensic applications used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Using the parallel processing power in GPUs employing Nvidia's CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture), vReveal cleans shaky, dark, noisy, or blurry videos.
According to the company, vReveal can improve the quality of videos captured by cell phones, digital cameras, and other handheld devices. It uses one-click touch-up tools to stabilize, brighten, and sharpen flawed videos. It can increase detail in low-resolution videos and remove video noise such as graininess and pixelation. The application can also capture print-quality still images from enhanced videos.
The company claims that with an Nvidia GPU, vReveal enhances videos up to five times faster than with a CPU, freeing the CPU for other tasks.
For more information and a free 30-day trial of vReveal, visit www.vreveal.com.
Find Duplicate or Similar Pictures on a PC
Bolide Software's Image Comparer lets users find similar or duplicate images automatically and delete redundant files. Using content-based image retrieval technology, the program can find such images regardless of their file name, format, image size, bit depth, and orientation of the object in the image. It can identify rotated or flipped images or those that have different shooting conditions.
Image Comparer displays a wizard that asks where the user wants to search—within one image group or two image groups. The user then chooses which folder or folders to scan, selects whether to search for duplicate or similar images, and selects the folder for the program's output.
Once the scan finishes, Image Comparer presents a list of the selected images along with the top 10 similar images for each selected image. The user can also view pairs of supposed duplicates. The images are displayed with information about their format, resolution, and file size. The user can delete redundant files or move them to a particular folder on the computer. Users can also adjust the level of visual similarity.
Image Comparer runs on Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista. The download version costs $39.95. A 30-day free trial version is also available for download.
For more information, visit www.bolidesoft.com.
3D Models of Civil Engineering Projects
In Situ Simulation (ISS) has released ISS Foresight v. 7.0, a Windows application that lets civil engineers simulate and visualize highways, plants, landfills, ski resorts, windmill farms, and other major construction facilities in 3D. With the application, users can design and view projects in real time. They can also perform rapid prototyping and what-if analysis.
ISS Foresight combines terrain data, orthophotographs and aerial photographs, CAD and GIS (geographic information system) plans, and forestry ecosystems data, turning them into a 3D virtual model that's created to scale. The program can also turn a 2D-designed project into a 3D model.
After developing a 3D model of a project, ISS Foresight can build computer graphics, photo simulations, and animations from any viewpoint in the 3D environment. It can also add people, cars, and other elements to the model.
ISS Foresight v. 7.0 runs on Windows 7/XP/Vista/2000 and requires Pentium 4, a 128-Mbyte OpenGL (Open Graphics Library) video card, and 1 Gbyte of memory. A single-user license costs $3,452. The ISS 3D Viewer is free.
For more information, visit www.iss3d.com.
One Workstation, Multiple OSs
Nvidia's SLI (Scalable Link Interface) Multi-OS lets users run applications on different operating systems from a single graphics workstation, in a virtualized environment. According to the company, this technology maximizes productivity and lowers costs for professionals in markets such as digital-content creation, the sciences, manufacturing, and oil and gas.
Built into the new Quadro FX 3800, Quadro FX 4800, and Quadro FX 5800 graphics cards, SLI Multi-OS lets users tap into the visualization and computing capabilities of the Quadro GPUs to experience full graphics performance in a virtualized system, Nvidia claims. SLI Multi-OS works in association with the Parallels Workstation Extreme virtualization software and Intel's VT-d (Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O) technology, assigning a dedicated GPU to the host OS and each guest OS. In the new HP Z800 workstation, the combination of these technologies delivers application performance nearly identical to systems configured with a dedicated operating system and GPU, according to the company.
SLI Multi-OS supports selected combinations of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Linux. For more information, visit www.nvidia.com/object/sli_multi_os.html.
Professional Pen Tablet
Wacom's Intuos4 is a professional pen tablet for photographers, designers, and artists. According to the company, the product can capture the slightest nuance of pen pressure against the tablet's surface, and offers 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Other enhancements include customizable shortcut and modifier keys with accompanying OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) displays that let users see the key settings.
The Intuos4 features "tip sensor technology," which offers users near-zero (one gram) starting pressure for utmost sensitivity, claims Wacom. The pen features a pressure-sensitive eraser and two side switches that can be customized for commands such as double-click and right-click. The customizable ExpressKeys (for shortcuts) and the Touch Ring (for controlling up to four functions) are on one side of the tablet, making them available to the user's nondominant hand. A wide-body Intuos4 replacement grip is available for users desiring a thicker barrel.
The Intuos4 is available for $229 (small), $369 (medium), $499 (large), and $789 (extra large). For more information, visit www.wacom.com/intuos.
4-Gbyte Graphics Card
Offering up to 240 CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) programmable parallel cores and 4 Gbytes of graphics memory, Nvidia's Quadro FX 5800 graphics card is ideally suited for oil and gas exploration, medical imaging, styling and design, and science visualization, according to the company.
The card's other features include interactive 4D modeling with time lapse capabilities, memory bandwidth of up to 102 Gbytes per second, fill rates exceeding 52 billion texels per second, and geometry performance of 300 million triangles per second. It also supports next-generation OpenGL and Microsoft DirectX 10 applications and advanced multisystem and multidevice visualization environments (with the Quadro G-Sync II option card).
The Quadro FX 5800 GPU features true 10-bit color, enabling billions of color variations for rich, vivid image quality with the broadest dynamic range, says Nvidia.
The Quadro FX 5800 is available for $3,499. For more information, visit www.nvidia.com/object/product_quadro_fx_5800_us.html.
Eliminating the Laptop PC Compromise
According to Dell, its Studio XPS 13 laptop PC with (optional) Hybrid SLI (Scalable Link Interface) eliminates the compromise between performance and battery life by offering two Nvidia GeForce GPUs to give users the option of running one GPU for longer battery life or combining both for greater performance.
The PC's standard configuration features the GeForce 9400M GPU, which delivers up to five times faster graphics performance than similar Centrino 2 systems, the company claims. The second GPU accelerates visual-computing applications. With both GPUs enabled, popular PC games such as Crysis play with "silky-smooth frame rates," according to Dell.
To extend battery life up to an hour, users can turn off the second GPU. The company claims that the remaining GPU will still render an excellent visual experience for watching HD movies, surfing the Internet, or playing casual games.
The GPU contains 16 parallel-processing cores, acceleration for Adobe Photoshop CS4, playback of 1080p high-definition video, and support for popular games such as Call of Duty, World at War, The Sims 2, Spore, and World of Warcraft.
For more information on the Studio XPS 13, visit www.dell.com/home/laptops. For more information about the Nvidia GeForce 9400M, visit www.nvidia.com/object/product_geforce_9400m_g_us.html.