SGI Receives Major Order to Enhance DaimlerChrysler's Virtual Reality Center

At the Mercedes Technology Center, SGI Will Integrate the World's Most Complex Immersive Visualization Environment Based on SGI Reality Center Technology

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. and MUNICH, Germany, July 31, 2002 -- SGI today announced it has been commissioned by DaimlerChrysler AG to completely update and expand the auto manufacturer's Virtual Reality Center (VRC), located in Sindelfingen, Germany. As the lead contractor and system integrator, SGI is responsible for all project activities for expanding the capacity and functional capabilities of this key visualization technology, which has already proven productive for DaimlerChrysler AG. Based on SGI(R) Reality Center(TM) technology, these latest enhancements will ensure that DaimlerChrysler's VRC holds an unequivocal top position as the world's largest and most complex central facility for immersive visualization used on a productive day-to-day operating basis.

The SGI order is valued at euro 6.5 million ($6.4 million U.S.) with equal allocation for the purchase of the latest SGI(R) high-end visualization systems and the lead contractor tasks performed by the SGI Professional Services organization, including deployment of the management software for the uniquely efficient steering of the center. Barco/Imsis, located in Germany, is the largest subcontractor and will deliver technology and know-how for the entire stereo projection environment. The order was received in May with an estimated project completion date of January 2003.

The VRC, located at the heart of the Mercedes Technology Center (MTC), is used intensively by designers, engineers and project managers working in the MTC on different automobile projects. Virtual reality (VR) has been installed in the most varied forms of immersive stereo projection, including a fully immersive room, different powerwalls and a curved screen. Using these varied forms of projection, the Mercedes teams rapidly analyze and understand their digital models and simulation results. The teams are also able to optimize and validate models and make the right decisions at the earliest possible stage within an ideal environment for multidisciplinary collaboration.

As DaimlerChrysler's VRC head Thomas Jager stated, "Our goals have been attained faster than we expected. Thanks to the VR application, we were able to generate double-digit percentage savings in cost of physical prototypes and development times. This motivated us to devote ourselves to quantitatively and qualitatively expanding the possibilities of the VRC. The benefits are obvious. In addition, the community of users within the MTC is growing as well."

Innovation on a Broad Front

The update and expansion of the VRC covers almost everything that is currently installable in terms of immersive VR technology and interface types.

A five-sided, fully immersive room, a double-segment powerwall and a single-segment wall will be retrofitted. In the future, information display in ultrahigh resolution will be possible on all projection segments. The stereo operation mode will be installed as passive stereo technology so users can wear comfortable polarization glasses. Barco LCD digital technology will be used for the projection, beaming up to 1600x1200 pixels (UXGA) per segment and eye, in stereo channel.

A double-segment powerwall of the same build, a double-segment immersive desk, also in passive LCD stereo, and a second fully immersive room will be newly installed. The fully immersive room will feature a four-sided layout and will be realized in active stereo with Barco 909 tube projectors for resolutions of up to 2500x2000 per channel.

To drive the new four-sided, fully immersive room, DaimlerChrysler is acquiring a new SGI(R) Onyx(R) 3000 series visualization supercomputer known for its extremely scalable, high-performance computing capabilities. It will be equipped with SGI(R) InfiniteReality4( graphics with four graphics pipes to enable displays in top-notch image quality and unrivaled realism.

DaimlerChrysler is also replacing its entire suite of Silicon Graphics(R) Onyx2(R) workstations currently in use at the VRC. A group of SGI(R) Onyx(R) 3400 visualization systems with InfiniteReality4 graphics will be purchased, including more than a dozen additional graphics pipes and a large number of MIPS(R) R14000( processors that can be flexibly assigned to various projection environments and applications according to need.

Know-How and Resource-Steering Technology Are Convincing

SGI will implement a media management system at the VRC, allowing the operator and user to control the resources of the entire center in a simple, flexible and efficient manner. The system is based on Reality Center Manager software, which the SGI Professional Services organization developed for the automobile industry over the course of several projects and is adapted to specific customer needs today.

"It's a well-known fact that SGI delivers the most high-performance visualization systems and solutions in the industry," said Volker Starck, manager for the Immersive Solutions activities and the DaimlerChrysler VRC project for SGI's Professional Services organization in Germany. "Our resource management software has become another exemplary stand-alone product on the market. It reflects the many years of experience SGI has gathered as the lead innovator and builder of many sophisticated facilities based on SGI Reality Center technology."

The SGI media management system ensures that the critical VR technology, which requires considerable investment, can be operated in an uncomplicated manner. A slide-through chip card and a few drag-and-drop actions are all that is needed to access a projection environment and to allocate the resources required for an executive demonstration or an engineering review.

Proven Competence for High-Quality Results

Daniel Banek, head of the SGI Immersive Solutions division in Central Europe, comments, "SGI's performance as a general contractor encompasses the overall management of restructuring and expanding measures at the DaimlerChrysler VRC, which we will execute in close, efficient cooperation with all subcontractors. In this role, SGI will ensure the highest quality for the project. A critical aspect is to keep the amount of downtime minimal, during which the different VR environments are not available to users, despite the complexity of the numerous update activities."

Francois Montoya, managing director of Barco GmbH states, "We are happy to contribute as a major subcontributor for this important project. Our commitment in Sindelfingen underscores that Barco is not only a supplier of innovative projectors, but also commands broad skills and experience when it comes to realizing complete high-resolution projection systems and fully optimized stereo quality."

In addition to SGI Reality Center technology, the VRC update includes more than two dozen Barco projectors. Barco's display product, CADWall(TM), has been chosen for the powerwall, and I-Space(TM), a multisided cubic immersive space environment, will be used for the fully immersive room.

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