Calit2 at UC San Diego Selects SGI Visualization and Storage Technology

November 1, 2005 / By Doug Ramsey

New SGI-Powered 4K Theater Will Be Multidisciplinary Networked Venue for Arts, Sciences, Education, and Interactive Entertainment

Silicon Graphics Prism system drives the Sony 4K projector showing GeoFusion mapping software on Calit2 digital-cinema screen in Atkinson Hall.

Mountain View and San Diego, CA, November 1, 2005 -- To provide research scientists, media artists, educators, and entertainment industry technologists with the most cutting-edge visualization environment available today, the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), purchased visualization and storage technology from Silicon Graphics (NYSE: SGI) for the brand new Richard C. Atkinson Hall. The building dedication ceremony, held Friday, October 28 and attended by more than 1,000 people from the campus, community and corporations including SGI, featured 150 research exhibits and numerous demonstrations of 4K digital content projected by a Sony 4K digital projector driven by a Silicon Graphics Prism™ visualization system.

The 215,000-square-foot Atkinson Hall includes the New Media Arts Wing, where the audience in the 200-seat theater was shown both uncompressed imagery at 4K resolution generated in real-time by the Silicon Graphics Prism system, and stored 4K uncompressed motion pictures streaming at 24 frames-per-second from the 21.6TB SGI® InfiniteStorage RM660 disk array.

The program included a demonstration by San Diego State University Visualization Center ( researchers, using a Silicon Graphics Prism system running GeoFusion software to process thousands and thousands of before-and-after satellite aerial photos of Hurricane Katrina and stream them on the Web for easy access by relief organizations. Other 4K clips shown included the BAPS trailer for Mystic India (shot in 65mm film and re-scanned to 4K), and Dan Sandin’s mathematical animation A Study of 4D Julia Sets. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) scientific visualizations Evolution of an F3 Tornado in a Thunderstorm and Flight to the Galactic Center Black Hole were among the many visual delights presented as part of the dedication ceremonies. Accompanying audio courtesy of Skywalker Sound, Youth Radio/San Francisco, and CRCA/UCSD was mixed live for a spatially enhanced surround sound experience that complemented the extraordinary quality of the 4K imagery.


Video news clip in Spanish from Univision TV segment on opening of Calit2 building, featuring SGI's technology and interview with SGI engineer Carlos Rojas.
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Part of the idea behind Atkinson Hall is to allow scientists, engineers, artists, entertainment industry visionaries and educators to come together to prototype advanced collaboration and visualization systems that will propel scientific discovery and innovation forward in many fields,” said Calit2 director Larry Smarr. “This new facility will house over 900 researchers from over twenty departments of UCSD, all of whom are immersed in a high bandwidth environment where visual technologies are ubiquitous.

Last month at the iGrid 2005 workshop and symposium, hosted by Calit2, a Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system and an SGI InfiniteStorage RM660 system were used to present the world's first international, remote, real-time, collaborative 4K digital cinema “dailies” workflow with rough-cut editing and interactive playback from a timeline. (Directors typically watch the footage shot each day during a movie production to make sure that everything was captured as planned.) SGI systems holding 4K DALSA camera files at the Research Institute for Digital Media and Content at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan were connected to the Calit2 auditorium, via 15,000 kilometers (roughly 9,000 miles) of gigabit optical-fiber IP networks, where a prototype Sony SXRD 4K projector (operating at 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution–four times the resolution of HDTV) projected the images at UCSD.

After seeing their performance at iGrid2005, we agreed that the Sony 4K projector and the Silicon Graphics Prism system had set a new bar in real-time super high-definition performance.” said Ramesh Rao, UCSD Division Director of Calit2. “The technology is so compelling and the visuals so much better than anyone has ever seen before that, after iGrid, we simply had to have it for this new building.

When Atkinson Hall, named in honor of former University of California president and former UCSD chancellor Richard C. Atkinson, officially opens in January 2006, Calit2’s UCSD facility will also be using the National Science Foundation-funded OptIPuter technology ( to collaborate with colleagues using high-definition and super high-definition telepresence, streaming over dedicated 1-gigabit and 10-gigabit networks, to Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. The OptIPuter optical fabric also includes NCSA’s 1,024-processor SGI® Altix® system. Calit2 plans to pioneer applications for this unprecedented level of combined computation, communication and visualization power to work with both the Hollywood entertainment and global scientific communities.

We really look forward to co-developing this 4K technology with SGI and Sony and with our research colleagues in Japan at Keio University and NTT Labs,” said Tom DeFanti, Calit2 research scientist. “These are all people we’ve worked with for many years on 4K Super High-Definition, especially the networking aspects. We’ve been waiting for a compute and storage platform as powerful as the SGI shared-memory architecture to be available on standards-based machines. With Silicon Graphics Prism, it’s here, and it’s doing what we want. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to work on something for 10 years and have it not only work, but blow everybody’s socks off.”

“Under the leadership of Larry Smarr, Calit2 has become a potent hotbed of compute, networking and visualization,” said Bob Bishop, chairman and CEO of SGI. “This new institute has the horsepower and brain power to drive the nation into a new and higher level of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The UCSD Division of Calit2 purchased a Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system with 48GB RAM and 8 Intel® Itanium® 2 processors running the Linux® environment and an SGI InfiniteStorage RM600 system with 21.6TB of disk storage and dual 10 Gigabit network interfaces. [See related November 1, 2005 press release: “SGI Visualization Technology Powers San Diego State University’s 3D Geospatial Mapping To Fuel Hurricane Relief Efforts”.]

California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology
Calit2 is one of four California Institutes for Science and Innovation created in late 2000 by California to ensure that the state maintain its leadership in cutting-edge technologies and industries. Its mission: to extend the reach of the Internet throughout the physical world. More than 200 faculty members from UC San Diego and UC Irvine are collaborating on interdisciplinary projects, with funding and other support from more than 100 industry partners.

SILICON GRAPHICS | The Source of Innovation and Discovery™
SGI, also known as Silicon Graphics, Inc. (NYSE: SGI), is a leader in high-performance computing, visualization and storage. SGI's vision is to provide technology that enables the most significant scientific and creative breakthroughs of the 21st century. Whether it's sharing images to aid in brain surgery, finding oil more efficiently, studying global climate, providing technologies for homeland security and defense or enabling the transition from analog to digital broadcasting, SGI is dedicated to addressing the next class of challenges for scientific, engineering and creative users. With offices worldwide, the company is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., and can be found on the Web at .

Silicon Graphics, SGI, Altix, the SGI cube and the SGI logo are registered trademarks and Silicon Graphics Prism and The Source of Innovation and Discovery are trademarks of Silicon Graphics, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries worldwide. Intel and Itanium are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

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Doug Ramsey, 858-822-5825,
Lisa Pistacchio, SGI, 650-933-5683,