EAC TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES
The key components leveraged for the EAC’s success are UALR’s world class faculty and graduate students, who work in various colleges throughout the University.
To assist these faculty and students, the new EAC has world class technological resources for, not only their use, but also for the use of corporate, non-profit and governmental partners — all focused on providing VISIONARY DATA SOLUTIONS FOR ARKANSAS, the EAC’s strategic economic development theme and mission.
The EAC’s key development and promotional partners include the Mechdyne Corporation, HP and Today’s Office.
The broad scope of the EAC’s technological resources are highlighted in the full page diagram on the next page and in more specific details on the following pages.
EAC VIRTUAL DATA LAB
UALR, in partnership with the Mechdyne Corporation, has deployed the world’s first EmergiFLEX™ immersive visualization technology. The ability to easily move the EmergiFLEX’s wall screens in the EAC Virtual Data Lab make this ideal for applications that will benefit from more than one display configuration.
The display environment consists of three walls and one floor screen. The side walls can be moved independently to create new formats. In less than a few minutes the EmergiFLEX™ can become:
- A flat wall display for presentation or data review
- An angled theatre, perfect for team collaboration or to display multiple datasets on different screens
- An L-shape for combined immersive mode and data display
- A CAVE-like immersive room for spatial structures
The side screens can be moved by a single person and feature Mechdyne’s exclusive self-leveling side screens and Integrated Structural System eliminating alignment adjustments after reconfiguration.
- Multi-disciplinary research
- Product design reviews
- Large audience presentations
- Terrain mapping and situational awareness
- Geophysical exploration and training
- Computational fluid dynamics
- Any application where multiple display modes would be beneficial
- Versatile screen can be easily reconfigured in different ways
- Fast and easy to reconfigure by a single Visual Analytics user
- Automatically levels itself for easy installation, even in a space without a level floor
- Easily accommodates the needs of different Visual Analytics users
- Impresses audiences
- Allows Visual Analytics users to focus on the data, not the technology
Each of the three vertical walls of EmergiFLEX™ display are touch panel controlled and consist of eight Barco OLS-721 3D LED DLP projection cubes each operating at 1920 x 1080 resolution and arranged in a 2 high x 4 wide portrait configuration. The overall dimensions of the twenty-four cubes when configured as a flat wall will be approximately 10.1’ high x 34.4’ wide or 10.1’ high x 11.4’ x 11.4’ x 11.4’ cube. The front projection floor will utilize two Digital Projection Titan WUXGA 660 Ultra Contrast projectors to display a blended image of approximately 11.4’ x 11.4’ when configured as a cube.
Barco OLS-721 advantages:
- High pixel density of 31.4 pixels per inch
- High image quality in terms of color, contrast, and off-axis viewing using a color and brightness uniformity calibration system called “Sense6” which utilizes a small onboard sensor to actually measure the image output while communicating with the rest of the display to calibrate to each other
- Reliability and long life with a 60,000 hour expected LED life and no lamps to routinely replace (the LED lighting units can be replaced but with a 60,000 hour life are not a consumable item)
- Low power consumption at 350W max per cube
The projection floor is made from a durable, washable rigid material that has been optimized for front-projection and for color-matching with the side walls. The two projectors utilize a mirror-folded light-path that is housed in an indexing cage system mounted to the center module and stabilized on the buildings structural support system.
EmergiFLEX™ STEREO EMITTERS & TRACKING SYSTEM
In order for the Visual Analytics users to view 3D stereoscopic images on the EmergiFLEX™ display surfaces, they wear active-stereo shutter-glasses. The shutter-glasses are synchronized with the image generator (computer cluster) by way of stereo emitters.
The emitters receive synchronization from the image generator via the cube displays & projectors. The emitters provide active-stereo (3D) synchronization for shutter-glasses worn by Visual Analytics users and provide coverage within the EmergiFLEX™ Virtual Data Lab.
Mechdyne has also provided a six-degree-of-freedom optical motion tracking system for a Visual Analytics user of the EmergiFLEX™ system. Infrared tracking cameras are mounted to the ceiling and display system structure above the Visual Analytics user. The 24-camera Bonita 10 system enables tracking for the EmergiFLEX™ technology to enable both head/hand tracking for the open flat wall configuration (34’ wide x 15’ deep) as well as the cube configuration (11’ wide x 11’ deep). The tracking system is provided with a rack-mounted tracking controller PC. A wireless gamepad with tracking targets is also provided for navigation. One pair of shutter-glasses is modified by the addition of tracking targets for tracking the Visual Analytics user’s head position and orientation. The tracking system enables the real-time generation of 3D imagery from the Visual Analytics user’s perspective.
EmergiFLEX™ IMAGE GENERATORS
The PC-based computer cluster for the EmergiFLEX™ is provided by HP and integrated by Mechdyne. The cluster features high-end graphics workstations linked by a gigabit network switch and GPU synchronization cabling.
The computer cluster is located in the UALR Computational Research Center, located on the 6th floor of UALR’s EIT Building. (See additional digest of UALR CRC resources included on later pages of this document). The cluster render nodes are connected directly to the EmergiFLEX™ cubes 3D input via professional fiber optic graphics extension. The computer master node is located within 25’ of the video matrix switcher allowing its graphics to be switched to any of the video destinations.
Video connections from the video matrix switcher to the EmergiFLEX™, lobby monitors, Data Situation Room™ displays and console monitors are extended over fiber-optic cables via dual link fiber-optic transmitter card in the switcher and receivers.
VIRTUAL DATA LAB LAPTOP CONNECTIONS / BLU-RAY DVD
A wired laptop connection point is provided on the control console within the Virtual Data Lab. A cable interface is installed in the surface of the control desk and have connections for both digital and analog video.
An advanced Barco ClickShare system with four wireless laptop connections is provided for room flexibility. The ClickShare set-up consists of four USB-powered devices (the ‘ClickShare Buttons’), ‘ClickShare Tray’ and a Base Unit. The ClickShare buttons connect the USB port of a Windows based laptop and automatically download the needed driver. Once the driver is downloaded the source is ready to display. Up to four laptops can be displayed simultaneously either in a quad layout or can be toggled full screen, via the button, between the four sources.
A professional blu-ray DVD player is also installed in the control consoles rack system for easy access from the operator. The DVD player is connected to the video matrix switch by a fiber optic video transmitter.
Mechdyne has provided a Polycom HDX 8000 1080p CODEC for video and audio conferencing. The CODEC is connected to UALR-EAC network for IP connections to other sites. Three Polycom Eagle Eye 1080p cameras are utilized within the Virtual Data Lab space. The first and second are positioned for an audience view while the third is positioned to capture a presenter and / or the FLEX display. For audience voice pickup, the system uses a Polycom HDX Microphone Array system. The array consists of the five ceiling microphone pods, each consisting of three microphone elements for complete coverage of the EmergiFLEX™ environment. A similar Polycom video conference system is deployed for use in the Data Situation Room™ to further enhance collaborative research and development activities from participants throughout the globe.
EmergiFLEX™ VIDEO SWITCHING
A special video matrix switcher allows video signals from the master computer, wired laptop interface, wireless laptop interface, video conferencing system, lobby signage computers, and Meeting Canvas processor control center GUI to be routed individually or through the Meeting Canvas Collaboration Processor to the EmergiFlex™. Also, the switch allows any of these sources to be individually routed to the two monitors on the control desk, the three lobby displays, and the two Data Situation Room™ displays. A blu-ray DVD player, when playing HDCP encrypted content, is directly routed and utilizes the “big picture” function of the cubes to display the image over a particular portion and size of the EmergiFLEX™ in order to maintain HDCP authentication.
EmergiFLEX™ MEETING CANVAS
Collaboration video systems (also known as video wall controllers) are commonly used in meeting areas and decision rooms. They serve as an interface between the various video signal sources and the display system. The collaboration technology treats the display area as a large canvas and allows any source to be placed in a window anywhere on the canvas.
Mechdyne’s Meeting Canvas software performs the same type of function as the collaboration systems described above. However, the approach taken is different and allows for a new set of unique capabilities. Meeting Canvas also features over-IP desktop sharing capabilities for network based remote and local collaboration.
EAC DOUBLE ROBOT
The EAC’s unique Double Robotics “Double Robot” gives the center’s research and development collaborators the ability to visit the EAC virtually and actually “move around” within the EAC from any location by using a special iPad application interface. The robot is also a key component to assist off-site engineers and technicians to provide maintenance support to the complex data visualization equipment located in the EAC.
HAPTIC DEVICE – VIRTUOSE™ 6D
A VIRTUOSE™ 6D is the haptic interface unit from the Haption company that is featured in the EAC. The designation “haptic interface” means a force-feedback system, which offers a real physical interaction with a virtual or distant object. The VIRTUOSE™ 6D is composed of a mechanical structure equipped with motors and position sensors. It ends with an ergonomic handle or grip. The device electronics integrate to a computer board which control the motors in real time based on the data received via a fast digital transmission media.
The VIRTUOSE™ 6D is the only force-feedback system on the market today which offers the following characteristics:
- Force-feedback on all 6 degrees-of-freedom (3 translations and 3 rotations)
- Operational workspace corresponding to the movements of a human arm
- Maximum force of 24N, i.e. high enough to simulate the handling of heavy objects
- Maximum rotation torque of 3 Nm, i.e. high enough for two-handed handling of large virtual objects
- Exact static compensation of the device’s own weight
- Modular end-effector equipped with programmable switches
- Reduced weight, transportable without specific equipment
- Development kit (API) available for the major operating systems
- Demonstrated compatibility with the major software applications on the market today, using dedicated plug-ins: ODE, H3D, 3DVIA Virtools, Catia V5, SolidWorks, RTT Deltagen, AutoDesk Showcase
The VIRTUOSE™ 6D unit in the EAC is supplied with a mechanical stand which offers stability without a fixation point and allows for a quick set-up. The haptic interface connects to the cluster master node via a network connection point at the base of the center module or on the side of the projection floor. The network connection utilizes a VLAN created within the audio and control network to the computer clusters dedicated network switch.
Mobile EmergiFLEX™ DESCRIPTION
UALR, in partnership with the Mechdyne Corporation, has also deployed the world’s first Mobile EmergiFLEX™ transportable immersive visualization technology. The Mobile EmergiFLEX™ features the unique ability as a smaller, mobile version of the much larger EmergiFLEX™ unit..
The Mobile EmergiFLEX™ incorporates three professional 55” LED 3D displays mounted on a custom stand and edge butted to form a “mini CAVE”. The displays use micro-adjustment mounts and the system operates using a HDMI 3D stereo format.
The Mobile EmergiFLEX™ is easily assembled or dismantled and uses HP computers, provided through the EAC’s special partnership with HP. The Mobile EmergiFLEX™ will allow for 3D stereoscopic images on the Mobile EmergiFLEX™ display surfaces using active-stereo shutter-glasses and incorporate user head tracking.
DATA SITUATION ROOM™ SPECIAL FEATURES
Two professional 70” LED touch screen displays are featured in the EAC’s Data Situation room with an HDMI matrix switcher to allow the import of video signals from the dedicated room computer, wired laptop interface, wireless laptop interface, video conferencing system, blu-ray DVD, and two sources from the EmergiFLEX™ matrix switching system. The room will feature connectivity both wirelessly and wired to guests laptop computers and Polycom video teleconferencing capabilities through a touch screen interface.
Special Steelcase MediaScape seating, provided through the center’s special partnership with Today’s Office, compliments the collaborative nature of the room. Additional furnishings throughout the EAC and its lobby were also provided through the development partnership with Today’s Office.
ADDITIONAL EAC RESOURCES
UALR VIRTUAL REALITY LAB
UALR’s history in data visualization began years ago with its original Virtual Reality Center (now the Virtual Reality Lab), located on the third floor of UALR’s ETAS Building. Initially, it was considered one of only 10 university-based centers where state-of-the-art technologies allow students, researchers, inventors and area businesses to “interact” with data in a 3-D virtual world.
The facility features a two-wall and floor 3D immersive projection system, along with a lab annex for 3D development projects. The annex also includes a single wall, polarized 3D projection screen for tests of various aspects of data modeling, computer aided design and simulated virtual environments.
UALR COMPUTATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER
The data analytical and technical storage strength of the EAC lies in its connection via fiber optics to the UALR Computational Research Center, located just two floors above the EAC’s Virtual Data Lab and Data Situation Room™.
The Computational Research Center houses the racks of HP computers provided through HP for the required processing power to “run” the EAC’s various data analytic and data visualization components. The UALR EAC’s special partnership with HP in the launch of the new center was a critical element in its successful development.
The UALR Computation Research Center’s resources comply with the FEDERAL INFORMATION SECURITY MANAGEMENT ACT (FISMA) standards. The Center features the following components:
The Center’s first supercomputer was brought online in May of 2009. Argon is a traditional Rocks 5.4 cluster running CentOS 5.5 to achieve 5.45 Tflops (trillion floating point operations per second) theoretical peak performance. Argon is appropriate for situations where a problem can be split up between numerous processors and where the researcher is comfortable with writing or modifying code to take advantage of parallel processing.
- 512 computing cores (2.66 GHz) on 64 nodes
- 1 TB compute-node memory (16GB per node)
- 64TB local scratch (1 TB per node)
- 40TB Lustre File system
- 20Gbps DDR Infiniband
Based on ScaleMP’s vSMP software, Boron runs CentOS 6.2, has a high memory to CPU ratio, and is ideal for researchers who are not familiar with writing parallel code but still have the need for parallelization. The vSMP platform itself handles parallelization of straight or conventional code, allowing researchers to spend more time focusing on their actual research and less time debugging code.
- 192 computing cores (3.2 GHz) on 16 nodes
- 768GB memory (48GB per node)
- 60TB local scratch (4TB per node)
- 40bps QDR Infiniband
The Center’s Microsoft Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 cluster serves to address the needs of the multitude of users who are bound to Microsoft platforms and applications. It is the first cluster of its kind within the Arkansas research community and provides a distinct flexibility to the CRC that sets us apart from other regional HPC facilities.
- 180 computing cores (2.66 GHz) on 15 nodes
- 720GB memory (48GB per node)
- 60TB local sctarch (4 TB per node)
- 20Gbps DDR Infiniband
The Scale-out HP StoreAll Storage array is available through both Ethernet and 40Gbps QDR Infiniband.
- 192TB raw disk space
- 125TB useable storage
Erbium, the Center’s big memory machine by HP was the most tightly integrated stand‐alone computer in the world as of November 2012. This HP ProLiant DL980 G7 Server is the key resource for problems involving very large matrices, databases, or datasets. For example, loading an entire genome into memory at one time enables an entirely new way of working in this field, and affords researchers the ability to focus on the subject at hand without the distractions and tedium normally associated with breaking up sequences, analyzing said partial sequences, and dovetailing results. Another example is performing data entity resolution on truly large datasets without having to artificially break up the sets, without the performance hits related to working with swap space, and without having to worry about missing information that crosses over between points of dataset demarcation.
- 80 processors (160 hyperthreaded)
- 4TB memory (in a single node)
UALR Computational Research Center Software Packages
- Intel MKL
- High-Performance Linpack (HPL)
- Gaussian G03 and G09