What’s powering the Cave?

Despite the astonishing increases in processing power in the past few years, it still takes a massive amount of hardware to generate the 3D images in a CAVE. The facility being built at Land Rover, for example, will be powered by a cluster of 16 Sun Ultra 40 workstations, sporting AMD Opteron 8220 processors with a clock speed of 2.8GHz. Each will feature 8GB of RAM and two genlocked Nvidia Quadro FX 4600s. Aside from the 16 workstations running the cluster, Land Rover will also have two similarly specified machines managing the network, both of which will be running the 64-bit version of Windows XP.

What's powering the Cave?

All this processing power will be pointed at eight Sony SRX-S105 projectors, which will sit outsidethe CAVE, rear-projecting stereoscopic images of the latest Discovery or road simulation onto the walls. Although the projectors are capable of resolutions up to 4,096 x 2,160 pixels, that resolution will drop to around 2,800 x 2,100 inside, which is still about twice that of high-definition televisions. The projectors will run the stereoscopic images at 90fps, with the shutter glasses synchronising them so that each eye sees each image at 45fps, creating the illusion of three dimensions.

When it’s completed, the CAVE at Land Rover will be the four-walled variety, meaning that only three walls and the floor will be projected upon. While the four-walled CAVE is the most common, there are models with five or six walls. The six-walled version completely encompasses the subject, and requires the floor and ceiling to be back-projected, boosting the cost into the millions. There are fewer than a dozen of these around the world- used primarily in architectural design where an understanding of vertical space is crucial.

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