Tools and Products
September/October 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 5) pp. 101-103
0272-1716/09/$31.00 © 2009 IEEE

Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Tools and Products
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  Software  
  Hardware  
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Software
GPU Parallel Programming
GPU programming continues to advance in terms of proprietary programming interfaces, generic open programming interfaces, and inclusion in strategic applications. Recent products from Nvidia include the following.
Version 2.3 of the CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) Toolkit and SDK (software development kit) includes performance improvements and expanded support for the CUDA-GDB hardware debugger, says Nvidia. Additional features include the CUFFT (Compute Unified Fast Fourier Transform) Library, which now supports double-precision transforms and includes performance improvements for single-precision transforms. CUDA-GDB and the CUDA Visual Profiler are included in the CUDA Toolkit installer. Additionally, each GPU in an SLI (Scalable Link Interface) group is enumerated individually so that applications can exploit multi-GPU performance even when SLI is enabled for graphics. In addition, the 64-bit versions of the CUDA Toolkit now support compiling 32-bit applications.
The first OpenCL 1.0-conformant drivers for Windows XP and Linux are available to all Nvidia GPU-computing registered developers. The drivers support CUDA-based GPUs and include updates to the OpenCL SDK code samples, a new SDK oclsobelFilter sample, Open CL compiler and driver binaries, OpenCL for compute-capable GPUs documentation, and support for Windows XP 32 and 64 and Linux 32 and 64.
Nvidia's Quadro GPU technology has been optimized for Autodesk AutoCAD 2010. According to Nvidia, Quadro processors let design professionals create and interact with more-complex 3D product designs. They claim that Quadro processors offer the best price performance for workstation graphics and enable up to a five-times performance increase in the 3D-hidden visual style and faster interactive manipulation of models in the conceptual and realistic visual styles. According to Nvidia, Quadro processors offer the ability to manipulate and interact with large-scale models while working at the maximum visual quality necessary to render high-polygon 3D models precisely. The nView display software is flexible for single large displays or multidisplay options at resolutions up to 2,560 × 1,600 per display. The drivers are free and available for download at www.nvidia.com. They're available as a standalone package or integrated in the latest graphics driver from Nvidia.
For more information, visit www.nvidia.com.
Modeling and Rendering Trees and Plants
Interactive Data Visualization's SpeedTree 5.0 tree and plant middleware delivers improved modeling control and rendering efficiency, according to the company. IDV claims that the new version includes these advances:

    • The SpeedTree Modeler enables greater control over tree geometry. Users can prune branches, set force parameters to guide branch shape, and grow SpeedTree models around rocks, walls, or other imported meshes.

    • SpeedTree geometry features the data necessary to interface SpeedTree with the user's physics engine. It has built-in support for Nvidia PhysX technology and the Nvidia PhysX APEX Vegetation Module.

    • SpeedTree can be brought into games and other real-time applications at any level—as a mesh, as geometry, as a partial integration with the user's engine, or through full integration. Comprehensive, integration-friendly reference applications are available to accelerate integration into the game development pipeline.

    • SpreedTree 5.0 offers a high degree of lighting realism, including dynamic shadows, ambient occlusion, and translucency.

    • SpeedTree 5.0's detail system means more trees in a scene than before while maintaining high-quality, pop-free transitions.





The SpeedTree 5.0 tree and plant middleware gives artists increased modeling control and rendering efficiency, claims Interactive Data Visualization.



For more information, visit www.speedtree.com.
Capture and Playback of HD 3D Media
Lightspeed Design claims its DepthQ Player offers high-quality playback of stereo 3D movies from a standard PC. It combines code architecture and throughput for high-bandwidth playback of either locally stored or URL-accessible stereoscopic movies, as well as 3D streaming IP video.
According to the company, the DepthQ Player offers a comfortable-to-view stereo 3D experience and cost-effective viewing of high-resolution stereoscopic media in a variety of environments—from remote 3D viewing stations, operating rooms, and conference rooms to 3D cinemas, museum exhibits, portable theaters, motion simulators, corporate events, and trade shows.
The product is available in three configurations.
DepthQ Player Lite is a free-to-download demonstration version that displays up to 1,920 × 1,080 60-pixel-per-eye output. Intended as evaluation software, it incorporates a subtle watermark, with modest restricted play length and playlist functionality.
DepthQ Player Standard is a licensed commercial version that displays up to 1,280 × 720 60-pixel-per-eye output and is tuned for the DepthQ Player HD 3D video projector.
DepthQ Player Pro is a licensed professional version that displays up to 1,920 × 1,080 60-pixel-per-eye output, with an enhanced feature set and enhanced functionality, according to Lightspeed Design.
For more information, visit www.depthq.com.
Shaderlight Improves Rendering
Shaderlight 0.1 delivers productivity and creativity improvements over traditional ray-trace rendering engines, according to ArtVPS. Shaderlight lets visualization specialists change key elements of a full-resolution image at any stage of rendering without rerendering. Users can see the progressive refinement of a scene when objects or camera angles are altered and can make interactive changes to materials, environments, lights, and textures on 3D images. Additionally, a new approach to global illumination lets users update light, color, and intensity on screen without rerendering, says the company.
Shaderlight 0.1 is available as a free download. For more information, visit www.artvps.com.
Hardware
3D on Large Screens
JVC's 3D LCD monitor, the GD-463D10, has a 46-inch screen and a body that's 39 mm at its slimmest point. It also features an advanced picture engine and a 3D decoder circuit, according to the company. The monitor is compatible with line-by-line and side-by-side 3D input. It employs the Xpol circular polarizing method for 3D reproduction and has three HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) terminals compatible with 3D input.
The screen promotes easy, natural viewing of 3D effects and clearly displays how these images will appear in the viewing environment, says JVC. The full HD panel has a dynamic backlighting, a touch-sensor panel with a key lock function, and a swivel stand.
Affordable Cluster Storage
Caringo's CAStor 3.0 helps create scalable, self-managing, clustered content storage for cloud and scalable file storage infrastructures. Version 3.0 lets you use a virtual CAStor storage cluster with one multicore server.
According to Caringo, CAStor 3.0 makes ideal use of high-density servers that can ship with as many as 24 hard drives. Users can assign one or more drives to each virtual CAStor node in a single, physical server chassis using multicore processors. The company says this "cluster in a box" model improves use of existing resources and minimizes the number of servers required, reducing power and floor space utilization.
CAStor scales from 1 Tbyte to petabytes and is simple to administer, says a company representative. Users can build an affordable clustered storage infrastructure using standard server hardware. CAStor's built-in archive feature ensures content retention and preservation to meet government compliance and legal requirements. Combined with the Content Router, Caringo provides automated, rule-based content distribution.
CAStor 3.0 includes an updated, streamlined administrative console with simple cluster-wide management of physical and virtual storage nodes, claims Caringo. Its standard HTTP interface integrates with Web applications and business applications such as e-mail archiving, enterprise content management, medical imaging, and genomic research.
Four terabytes of free CAStor software is available for download at www.caringo.com; it requires a single multicore server to start.
Storage for Film Editors and Media Artists
The ioXtreme drive increases data performance up to six times for the Maya Composite high-dynamic-range compositing component of Autodesk Maya 2010, says Fusion-io. The company claims that in testing, the ioXtreme outperformed an enterprise-class, four-drive RAID by more than 200 percent. It adds that the performance increase gives filmmakers, compositors, editors, and artists using high-end 2D and 3D applications the power to review their work in full quality and real time.
With the ioXtreme, 3D artists can use Maya Composite to check their final images and precomps, and compositors can work in full resolution and play back their work interactively without being bound by the amount of RAM on their workstations. In addition, artists working in stereoscopic 3D can time preview shots at their own workstations.
Fusion-io claims that the ioXtreme provides better performance than hard disks for editing and point-cached file work, with lower up-front and continuing operational costs. The company adds that its product is easy to install, is maintenance free, and creates a quieter, cooler work environment.




The 3dMD surface imaging system offers dental specialists and surgeons precision imaging.



For more information, visit www.fusionio.com/ioxtreme.
Medical Surface Imaging
The 3dMD system offers dental specialists and surgeons high-quality 3D surface imaging combined with 3D application software.
The system's capture speed is 1.5 milliseconds at highest resolution, which eliminates the challenges and data errors associated with patient movement, according to 3dMD. One continuous point cloud produced from the onset, regardless of the number of camera viewpoints, eliminates data errors associated with merging data sets or stitching them together, the company adds. 3dMD claims that the simultaneous acquisition of geometry and high-resolution color texture data ensures that the texture is mapped accurately to the geometry.
Medical-grade machine vision cameras integrated with an industrial-grade flash system ensures repeatable results in high-throughput environments, says the company. 3dMD adds that the system's active stereo photogrammetry ensures a quality geometry regardless of room lighting.
The system's interface is driven from the CPU and uses basic point-and-click routines that let the user sit the patient down in front of the system and click the button. The unit can be mounted on the wall, and processing can occur immediately or offline at the end of the day. The supported file formats include ASCII, .tsb, .obj, .stl, .wrl, .aop, .dxf, and .raw.
For more information, visit www.3dMD.com.