Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Graphics Space Upgrades Science

GPU-Powered Planetarium Renders 64MP Projection 108

Posted by timothy
from the how-quaint-an-ancient-star-dome dept.
MojoKid writes "The Adler Planetarium has finished a major two-year upgrade project that's replaced the facility's forty year-old Zeiss Mark VI projector with a 'Digital Starball' system designed by Global Immersion Ltd. The new digital system is powered by an array of NVIDIA Quadro GPUs. The specs behind the system are impressive. The 71-foot dome of the Grainger Sky Theater now contains a score of military-grade projectors with an 8kx8k resolution. The final 64 megapixel image is generated by an array of 42 NVIDIA Quadro GPUs and offers an unprecedented degree of real-time modeling horsepower. The planetarium's model of the universe was created in part from high-definition photos captured around the world and via the Hubble telescope."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

GPU-Powered Planetarium Renders 64MP Projection

Comments Filter:
  • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @06:09AM (#36731260)

    What's with everything being "military grade" nowadays, from motherboards to video projectors? Is it some kind of fashion, or did US army have a huge sale?

    Or do these components actually refer to North Korea's high standards?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Military grade = So expensive that we sell these to the military (and they are silly enough to pay this much for fancily rebadged off-the-shelf hardware)

      • by Jonner (189691)

        Military grade = So expensive that we sell these to the military (and they are silly enough to pay this much for fancily rebadged off-the-shelf hardware)

        So, did the planetarium pay the ridiculous "military grade" premium or were they smart enough to find the COTS version?

    • by lexcyber (133454)

      Military Grade is the same as ridiculously expensive items that is hard to maintain and requires special training to operate. Usually only available at universities, military or other government function where money is not an issue when you buy hardware only when talking labor cost. So basically the exact opposite of "Commercial grade".

      -L

      • Re:Military grade? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @07:19AM (#36731532)

        requires special training to operate

        Clearly you were not in the military. Military Grade means "GI proof" as in simple and indestructible. That also means its incredibly heavy. So these projectors probably weigh about 500 pounds each and have no controls other than a power switch and no indicators other than"call civilian contractor for service" and possibly a power light.

        The only people harder on equipment than GIs, are the oil field roughnecks. Give those guys a screwdriver, they'll work all day to return a metal pretzel. Its a miracle any oil gets pumped at all.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The only people harder on equipment than GIs, are the oil field roughnecks. Give those guys a screwdriver, they'll work all day to return a metal pretzel. Its a miracle any oil gets pumped at all.

          Eh, what are you talking about? Give the oil field roughnecks 2 weeks training and they can go up in the space shuttle!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And what about the continuously recurring "GPU" articles. Yes, GPU's are cool, but if it didn't have the magic word "GPU" in the title this would hardly be news.
      GPU's are the new "black", it seems...

      My laptop has a GPU. Can I submit an article on this?

    • by qwak23 (1862090)
      Military grade means it's 15 years old, possibly used, costs anywhere from 3 to 100 times what you can get it for on-line, and may no longer be supported by the manufacturer (if that manufacturer is still in business). Oh, if you're lucky they shock mounted it, or at least installed some rails so you can put it in a shock mounted rack ;)
    • by nzac (1822298)

      I think its the marketing extension of military grade cooling systems that are on some GPUs and possibly other places.

      Thought I doubt the observatory actually used the word to describe it, I believe Military grade actually means some part of our product exceeded any necessary specification for a consumer grade product and is unlikely to fail before another part. I beveller MSI used the idea to sell me my new graphics card after my 4850 burnt out.

    • by delt0r (999393)
      RS or Farnell sell military grade for many of its components. For the most part its 2-5x more expensive, better MTBF and most importantly a much wider range of usable temperatures and storage temperatures. This matters in many civilian applications where normal components typically are not specified to work below zero (they often do, but don't count on it). Marine environments typically need below zero if you are in the north sea for example. It is easier to use an existing standard that already takes this
    • by CPTreese (2114124)

      From being in the Army, when I see military grade I think "built by the lowest bidder"

    • Re:Military grade? (Score:4, Informative)

      by AlienIntelligence (1184493) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @08:36AM (#36731964)

      What's with everything being "military grade" nowadays, from motherboards to video projectors? Is it some kind of fashion, or did US army have a huge sale?

      I have two items that touted military grade components. A radar detector and an amp.

      The radar detector has handled the punishing heat of a car window in the desert
      for nearly 9 years now.

      The amp I bought 25 years ago. Still working to spec even though it has seen
      thousands of heat cycles.

      So, maybe nowadays military grade is crap. But at one time, you were assured
      that whatever that item was, it could go to the Antarctica or Death Valley and
      work to spec and not become too brittle to use or melt.

      Electrical specs are also held to greater tolerances. That amp, while every other
      amp's THD varied wildly, held a very respectable number across their lineup.

      It's sad if military grade doesn't mean that any more.

      -AI

      • by qwak23 (1862090)

        That sort of military grade still exists, however it's expensive and everything has to be designed or redesgined from the ground up to use it, which can be extremely expensive when you start talking modern computers. So military grade often now means COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) put into a ruggedized/shock mounted shell and possibly water cooled.

      • by bledri (1283728)

        So, maybe nowadays military grade is crap. But at one time, you were assured that whatever that item was, it could go to the Antarctica or Death Valley and work to spec and not become too brittle to use or melt.

        I suspect military grade still more or less means "bullet proof", pardon the pun. But people on both the "government is bad" and "military is bad" sides of the aisle can mock it and feel superior.

        • by qwak23 (1862090)

          Don't forget people with military experience who have used military grade printers!

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        I wonder if Military Grade is the same as what we called MilSpec. The US military did a lot of work back in the day to create specifications so what they actually bought wasn't crap. I have not read up on the history but my best guess is that the Army and Navy got into it right after the civil war. During the Civil war a lot of crooks tried to get rich selling junk to the military. Combine that with the rise of things like Steam powered iron clad and later steel warships and it all makes sense. Even today p

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          I wonder if Military Grade is the same as what we called MilSpec. The US military did a lot of work back in the day to create specifications so what they actually bought wasn't crap.

          That's probably what "Military grade" components are all about, actually - just ones meeting MilSpec requirements. They aren't hard to get these days - passive components can be had quite cheaply (the incremental cost is minimal), but for ICs, it can be a huge price jump.

          And MilSpec parts aren't necessarily higher grade - they j

          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            Or airliner and space craft simulators? So in other words aerospace spec or to be really honest. Just high resolution.

      • by gtirloni (1531285)
        Planned obsolescence has made military grade obsolete.
    • Most other countries don't have military grade militaries.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      It used to be a codeword for "built US Army jacket tough" but nowadays usually means "So overpriced you'll wet yourself when you see the bill". for examples see the F22, F35, the latest aircraft carriers, etc.

      I think the bigger question is "Can Nvidia survive on this alone with Intel trying to murder them?". Just as AMD lost billions thanks to Intel's OEM bribery and compiler rigging (which the rigging part is still going on BTW, they consider sticking a little FYI in the docs to be a "fix") and caused Via

      • by billcopc (196330)

        VIA suffered losses because, as a general rule, their products targeted the low end of the market, and even failed to satisfy those bargain hunters. Their chipsets are ass, their ITX boards underpowered, their audio chips noisy. They apparently failed to invest in R&D over the years, always playing catch-up with the big boys.

        VIA is to AMD what AMD is to Intel: a wanna-be.

    • by billcopc (196330)

      Military grade just means it's 10 years out of date and 10 times over priced.

      Using government math that makes it 100 times more better!

  • by ledow (319597)

    ... is a military-grade projector, and why would you want one?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's one of those projectors used for showing powerpoint slides to troops before a mission.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by ledow (319597)

        I want a refund on my tax, please.

        Powerpoint for soldiers? What next, battle plans sent via MS .docx? :-)

        • What next, battle plans sent via MS .docx? :-)

          Probably. How else would they do it? They don't have special message machines which self destruct in five seconds.

        • by qwak23 (1862090)
          Actually the battle plans are in power point, the more charts and "sleek" animations the better. .docx is reserved for official records, assuming that the pc you're using was built sometime after 2000. The brief will start once private timmy finds some batteries for the laser pointer and the correct video cable to go from laptop to projector!
          • by CPTreese (2114124)

            you have clearly endured many of these briefings. I always felt pity for "private Timmy" he had to scrambled like a crazy man lest he possibly delay his Commander's briefing. I always hated that commanders were typically too ignorant (or stupid) to set their own equipment up. Before anyone flames me, I was a commander.

            • by qwak23 (1862090)

              Fortunately I have only had to play the role of "private Timmy" a couple times. Though I have unfortunately spent far too many hours adjusting the color scheme of text boxes in powerpoint to get just the right shade of unreadable blue on yellow when black and white would have probably sufficed. I once sent up a brief with the crayon template selected, though it never made it to the official briefing, the response I got for it was worth the extra time wasted editing it yet again.

              • I was looking for the report from Gen. McMaster, and found this site. pptclasses [pptclasses.com] I want to say this is not serious, but it seems satire gets harder to detect all the time. If the site is real, and an indication of reality, I weep for our boys in the field.

                The best I could do is find news stories [nytimes.com] about the report, but not the report itself. It is a fantastic read for anyone in the military or the corporate world. One could change a few words and it would be just as insightful when applied to software enginee

                • by qwak23 (1862090)

                  The site seems to be half satire, and half "why the hell are we making these same damn powerpoints over and over when we could just be sharing them".

                  I am tempted to order the PowerPoint Ranger's framed creed and place it on my desk.

                  • I guess this makes me feel a little better? It still applies equally well to the business world though.

    • by CPTreese (2114124)

      I think a military grade projector relates more to the type of equipment you would install in the Pentagon to review satellite imagery

  • OK so scores of Nvidia chips are cool but a Zeiss Mark VI [wikipedia.org]is wayyyy more cool...
    • by chill (34294)

      Even cooler if you link to the correct Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org]!

    • by cvtan (752695)
      The sight of that Zeiss projector rising out of the floor of the Hayden Planetarium in NYC made a big impression on me as a small child. Never forget it. Absolutely wayyy cool!
  • ... but can it run Crysis?!?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's next, GPU-powered OpenGL?

  • I want a planetarium at home. Is there a short throw projector that can fill a reasonable ceiling with a half decent resolution? I can make the assets myself for it, but I'm suprised there isn't more of this done. Movie on the ceiling, maybe, but planetarium for the kids is a very cool piece of kit.
  • I'll be impressed when it's in 3D. Wait — are they calling 3D without glasses 4D these days? That would be better. No, wait — why don't we just have holodecks already? We've got the tech... http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/cliff-kuang/design-innovation/holograms-you-can-actually-touch [fastcompany.com]
    • by Hatta (162192)

      It is in 3D. It's just that the stars are too far away for you to notice.

  • I don't get the math....

    Is it a score (20) of 8k by 8k projectors, or a score of projectors, totaling 8k by 8k.
    And how exactly do you divide 8k x 8k by 20?
    8k / 4 = 2k, 8k / 5 = 1.6k, so they have projectors that have a resolution of 2000 x 1600. Impressive if right - vs 1920x1080 projectors.

  • I recently went to a show at the Morehead Planetarium at the University of North Carolina. They recently retired their Zeiss projector. It was still there, until they figure out where it's going and how to get it out of the building, but the show used digital projectors. The Morehead Planetarium holds a place in the history of the US manned space program, all of the Astronauts from the Mercury program, through Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab were trained on astronavigation at Morehead, albeit the planetarium a
  • by necro81 (917438) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @08:27AM (#36731914) Journal
    For what it is worth, I think this is the "overhead [politifact.com] projector" [discovery.com] that John McCain cited in a presidential debate as a $3 million example of government earmark abuse by Obama. Gosh, it's amazing what ordinary office equipment is capable of these days! It's nice to know the government has absolutely no interest in inspiring and educating children, advancing technology, and attracting tourism.

    (By the way, that earmark, and the bill it was attached to, never became law)
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      I often find that science earmarks get hit a lot by both parties. Pork is almost always money spend on some other state. McCain also listed a few million dollars being spend for seismic studies in Missouri as park barrel I am sure that he put both on the list after an aid briefed him like this.
      "Obama wants $3 million dollars for a projector that puts pictures on the wall."
      and
      "Some congress man wants to spend x million of dollars studying earthquakes in Missouri! Who ever heard of earthquakes in Missouri?"
      As

  • Too bad they destroyed the airport, or I'd fly in to see the show.
  • this is the infamous $3 million "overhead projector" [gizmodo.com] from the 2008 election.
  • I can hear the little kids on a field trip to the planetarium... "the stars are bright! I can see the Milky Way! Wow, the stars are hot and LOUD..."
  • Maybe I'm missing something, but 8000x8000 doesn't seem like a terribly impressive resolution, especially stretched across a 71-foot dome (is that radius or diameter? No, I DRTFA, why do you ask?). Hell, my monitor at home's 2048x1152, so this 'amazing' projection system is the equivalent of 8 of my home monitors?

    • No, it would be the equivalent of ~28.4 of your home monitors, and the computational power to do 3D modelling of the universe at that resolution at better than real time.

    • by afidel (530433)
      There are EIGHT of those projectors on that 71' dome.
  • I'd love to update my asteroid discovery movie [youtube.com] for this, I've rendered a 4kx4k version for some lesser planetariums, but 8kx8k will mean upgrading my disk storage I think.

  • I just see a lot of equipment that will break, become obsolete, and have to be maintained more than the previous projector that lasted 40 years.
    It sounds cool, but try to replace a video board when one burns out twenty years from now. I'd rather have the Zeiss.

  • A clearer close up view of Uranus. Did you know that Uranus has a gassy atmosphere?

  • What exactly is a "military-grade" projector?

    Are there particularly robust presentations needed for military purposes?
    Do the troops in the field need especially high-powered and durable light shone to display movies, or perhaps graphics?

    It sounds as impressive as hell, perhaps a giant searchlight mounted on a trundle-carriage like a WWI tank?

  • Somebody mentioned wanting a planetarium at home. This is very doable. The current version of WorldWide Telescope:

    http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/ [worldwidetelescope.org]

    supports a very straightforward remapping onto a dome through multiple projectors (don't know about the military grade nonsense). There's a calibration screen that handles all the geometry. Just need some baffling to minimize the overlap between projectors.

    Navigating through the Sloan galaxies is very impressive on a planetarium

  • Neat - anyone been to the show yet? I'd love to see a first hand report - it will be a while before I can get down there myself.
  • I'm sure they put on some great shows, but these modern "overhead projectors" often lack the dynamic range of the best discrete planetarium projectors out there.

    Even among dedicated planetarium projectors, only the best are able to replicate the differences in brightness between mag 1 and mag 6 stars with any convincing accuracy. Many of them project such a "flat" sky in terms of brightness that it's difficult to recognize even familiar constellations. The old Morrison Planetarium projector had dedicated la

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

Working...