Silicon Graphics (SGI) has unveiled products which it claims will allow PC and notebook users to view and manipulate complex 3D images created by powerful graphics supercomputers.
SGI has dubbed the technology Visual Area Networking and said that the products include graphics infrastructure software, graphics hardware and desktop systems.
With the OpenGL Vizserver 2.0 software running on an SGI Onyx 3000 supercomputer - which generates complex 3D graphics, 2D imagery and high resolution video - users will be able to interact with visualisation supercomputers individually or as a group from anywhere in the world.
The new software will transmit images over standard TCP/IP networks to computers running Windows, Linux, Sun Microsystems' Solaris and SGI's Irix operating system, according to Bob Bishop, SGI chief executive.
The power of SGI visualisation supercomputers could be used by people like surgeons performing virtual operations on a battlefield or geologists analysing strata in the Gulf of Mexico.
Along with the software, SGI unveiled a workstation called the Silicon Graphics Fuel and two visual supercomputer devices, the Onyx 300 Infinite Reality3 and the Onyx 3000 with Infinite Performance graphics subsystems.
Jon Peddie, president of market research firm Jon Peddie Research, explained that the technology will allow multiple users to have universal, collaborative access to their applications, which gives them a faster, more accurate and more valuable insight into their problems.
"This capability could put SGI in the unique position of fundamentally changing the future of collaborative computing," he said.
Gartner analyst Pia Rieppo maintained that the ability to use a central graphics resource to make advanced visualisation more accessible represented a big step forward.
"It will bring distributed computing to engineers and designers who were previously limited to localised graphics," he said. "Geographically remote teams can now interact simultaneously and share control of complex visual data in real time and on any client device."
SGI plans to target the energy, medical, science, defence and design industries with the technology.
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