And it couldn’t be a better time: Both technology and optimism abound in the industry. In fact, the 2005 SIGGRAPH Exhibition boasts the largest number of vendors demonstrating computer graphics and interactive technology products and services in four years. If this record high is any indication, this year’s show promises to deliver significant announcements, just a sampling of which is presented on these two pages.
For additional information about the annual industry event or the association behind it, visit www.siggraph.org. - Courtney E. Howard
3Dlabs has unveiled its Wildcat Realizm 500 professional graphics accelerator.
The company’s latest midrange graphics board, the Wildcat Realizm 500 is designed to ensure the efficient manipulation of large-size, complex animations and renderings. It takes advantage of PCI Express technology, the Wildcat Realizm Visual Processing Unit (VPU), 256mb of memory, and a high-precision floating-point pipeline, as well as offers compatibility with OpenGL and DirectX technologies. 3Dlabs’ Wildcat Realizm 500 begins shipping this month at a cost of $900. - CEH
SIGGRAPH attendees will be among the first to witness the upgraded version of the Nvidia Gelato software renderer.
Tapping the power of Nvidia Quadro FX graphics boards, Gelato speeds final-frame rendering for film, television, and design projects. Version 2.0 boasts enhancements to volumetric shadows, performance improvements, and support for Windows XP and 64-bit Linux.
Included with Gelato is a plug-in for Alias’s Maya, called Mango, that brings Gelato’s functionality to the 3D solution. Frantic Films Software (http://software.franticfilms.com) offers a similar plug-in, named Amaretto, for Autodesk 3ds Max. Gelato will ship with the Mango plug-in, and one year of maintenance and support, at a cost of $1500.
Also making its debut, Nvidia Sorbetto is an interactive lighting tool available as an option with Gelato 2.0. With Sorbetto relighting technology, Gelato users can more quickly re-render changes to a scene’s lighting, such as the addition or deletion of lights and changes in their position, color, or intensity. Designed to speed lighting tasks, Sorbetto performs relighting on the final image, rather than an intermediate proxy. The new tool accommodates immediate lighting changes before completion of the final render. It also aids users in adjusting lighting and lighting parameters, recomputing reflections and shadows, and relighting only specific objects or sections of the image. Gelato with Mango, Sorbetto, and a year of maintenance and support is priced at $3700. Gelato 2.0 with Sorbetto enters the beta-testing stage this month. - CEH
Pixar Animation Studios has unveiled the latest version of its RenderMan software, RenderMan for Maya.
RenderMan for Maya is designed to provide tight work flow integration with Alias’s Maya 3D modeling, animation, effects, and rendering solution.
The company’s newest product, developed in response to customer requests for a seamlessly integrated and easy-to-use RenderMan interface geared to the general Maya user, made its debut at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Los Angeles in April.
Being demonstrated during SIGGRAPH, RenderMan for Maya features the complete range of Pixar’s RenderMan rendering technology, employed in the creation of such films as Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, to the full community of Maya artists.
Pixar Animation Studios anticipates shipping RenderMan for Maya, available on both Mac OS X and Windows platforms, later this summer. RenderMan for Maya carries a price of $995. - CEH
In its booth at SIGGRAPH 2005, SGI will demonstrate the Deskside version of the Silicon Graphics Prism interactive visualization system. In fact, these systems can be seen powering a Sony SXRD 4k projector in the SGI Visualization Theater, in addition to driving various advanced development tools and high-end displays, on the show floor.
The Silicon Graphics Prism Deskside system, whose pricing starts at roughly $8500, is said to bridge the gap between PC workstations and scalable, rack-mounted visualization systems. It is designed to deliver powerful visualization and application performance, as well as increased memory capacity (up to 24gb) and bandwidth, for such demanding high-resolution tasks as digital content creation and video editing.
Although a compact box sized at roughly 16x13x21 inches and 60 pounds, the Silicon Graphics Prism Deskside can accommodate two Intel Itanium 2 CPUs and two ATI GPUs. Capable of displaying up to 10 million combined pixels, a system powered by dual ATI FireGL graphics processors can be used in multiple-application and multiple-user environments. That is, a single Deskside system can drive more than one demanding program or be used by two professionals simultaneously. It also offers a 64-bit Linux environment, SGI’s scalable shared-memory visualization architecture, OpenGL support, and dual-channel support for passive stereo viewing. - CEH
Alienware has expanded its Area-51 product line with the Area-51 7500, a high-performance desktop system designed for data-intensive applications. The Area-51 7500 is the first Alienware system to incorporate Nvidia SLI and Intel dual-core technologies in a single workstation.
Bridging two graphics cards in a master/slave configuration, Nvidia SLI technology e nables up to double the graphics performance of non-SLI workstations. Meanwhile, the Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 840 adds two processing cores on one chip, for increased computing power. The Area-51 7500 also sports Intel Hyper-Threading Technology and support for up to four processing threads, aiding users in efficient multitasking.
Now available, the Alienware Area-51 7500’s pricing starts at $2500. - CEH
In the June issue, two images appearing in the Portfolio section on page 29 were incorrectly identified. The image pictured here on the left is “Rogue IV” by Eric Heller, while the image on the right is “Persona in Fields” by Sherban Epure.