Meet me on the holodeck

Sun links with VR outfit, death by Powerpoint

Tequila is a subject close to our hearts here at The Register, so we immediately warmed to the announcement yesterday that new Sun collaborator Trimension Systems had developed a 'virtual tequila environment', complete with worm. UK-based Trimension builds exotic display systems allowing car designers and geophysicists to collaborate in high resolution virtual reality environments. Top of the range is the Cubic Tracked Environment which allows a user to work in a 360 degree VR environment which can react to them by touch. A less laudable use of the technology enables crazed senior executives to produce Cecil B deMille-style PowerPoint presentations that could kill folks with weak hearts. Sun's new Expert3D graphics card is aimed squarely at Silicon Graphics - a company mentioned almost as many times Sun itself by senior Sun suits at the London launch. Sun claims that, at a cool $3495, the Expert3D is still only a tenth the cost of the SGI equivalent. Multiple cards can be used to drive up to three hi-res displays which can either perform singly or linked to produce a single widescreen projected image. Sun's workstation VP, Ken Okin, claims that graphics performance is doubling every six to nine months and the Expert3D can 'almost display more triangles on screen than the human eye can see' - that'd be around ten billion triangles. With 136Mb of onboard texture and frame buffer memory, the new card can also display stereo images at a 112Hz refresh rate. That means each eye sees images refreshed at 56Hz, which Sun claims allows users to work in 3D for considerably longer than is possible with current 3D offerings which cause users to stagger cross-eyed for the coffee machine after 30 minutes or so. Even so, any display in the 21st Century that causes that kind of eye strain should surely attract the attention of the health and safety lobby. At the moment, stereo graphics are obviously just beyond the capabilities of hardware. Maybe in six month's time... ®

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