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August 3, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Alliant Computer Systems is hoping to reap the rewards of its acquisition of graphics hardware specialist Raster Technology Inc last February with the launch of what it calls the Visualalisation Series of visual supercomputers at the Siggraph graphics show in Atlanta, Georgia this week. The company claims that the new systems are the first to support simultaneous compute-intensive applications and high performance three dimensional graphics, and by supporting automatic parallel processing of both applications and graphics, Alliant is claiming peak applications performance of up to 377 MFLOPS and graphics performance of up to 640 MFLOPS. Aware of the recent trend towards graphics superworkstations from the likes of Ardent, Stellar and Apollo, Alliant says that the four Visualisation models – VFX/4, VFX/40, VFX/80 and VFX/82 – will support simultaneous video displays for team-oriented environments, such as a team of engineers working on an aircraft, or chemists designing a new drug. Applications processing is handled by Alliant’s parallel vector computational elements, with simultaneous graphics processing carried out by graphics arithmetic processors tightly coupled to the computational elements. Up to eight of the graphics processors can be added: each executes the PHIGS Programmer’s Hierarchical Interactive Graphics Standard and PHIGS+ as its native graphics instruction set. Alliant also introduced it Visedge software package for three dimensional modelling, allowing various rendering, rotation, resizing and lighting options. The VFX Series runs Sun Microsystems’ X11/NeWS windowing system, and Alliant is also offering a software-compatible single-user model based on the Sun-4 workstation and Raster’s GX4000 graphics accelerator. Prices range from $75,000 to $125,000 per graphics seat – UKP54,000 to UKP89,000 in the UK; add-ons for FX/Series machines are also available.

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