Compaq and UT Austin Visualize Space and Time

Compaq Computer Corporation and The University of Texas at Austin Center for Computational Visualization (CCV) have entered into a cooperative research relationship in advanced visualization techniques using high-performance computers and complex display equipment.

Researchers can use the new tools to simulate events that take place at extremely large scales like the explosion of a star, galactic motion or the theoretical collision of black holes. They also can simulate extremely small-scale events at the subatomic scale. Computerized images such as strata underneath the earth’s surface can be used to predict the production of oil reservoirs. And researchers can examine the human body layer by layer or cell by cell.

"Simulation technology allows you to manipulate the scales of time," explains Dr. Tinsley Oden, Director of the Texas Institute for Computational and Applied Mathematics (TICAM) at the University of Texas at Austin. "You can look at events that take place over thousands of years. You can look at events that may take place a thousand years in the future. You can study events that take place in a microsecond. In essence, you slow down time, or you speed it up -- whatever is necessary to model and study the phenomena of interest."

Testing complex theories in geophysics, astronomy, medicine and other scientific disciplines produces such large amounts of data that scientists often find it difficult to see the solution.

"That’s where visualization is of enormous benefit," says Dr. Oden. "It becomes the indispensable tool in interpreting results and making sense out of these calculations."

Powering the lab’s extensive computer processing requirements is a cluster of Compaq SP750 workstations. The 130 workstations and disk drives are networked using Compaq ServerNet II high-speed, low-latency interconnect technology.

Mike Humke, Compaq Director of Higher Education comments, "Compaq’s collaboration with the UT Austin CCV is enabling pioneering visualization research that promises to touch many lives. We foresee this leading to noninvasive diagnostic medical tests. Manufacturers may use it to create new substances that are lighter or safer or stronger. The possibilities are endless," Humke adds.

Examples can be seen at