In 1994 my friend (and next door neighbor) Dr. Paul Woodward (a leading Astrophysicist specializing in fluid flow computation) asked me to assist his team (mostly with the display system) in constructing and demonstrating a high performance, high resolution visualization system called the PowerWall, to be shown at Supercomputing ’94 in Washington DC. The primary purpose of the PowerWall was to display very high resolution data from large scientific simulations performed on supercomputers, such as simulation of homogeneous, compressible turbulence. The PowerWall provided a large 6 foot by 8 foot display area to facilitate collaborations of small groups of researchers, and allowed users to interactively explore the data sets, using the PowerWall as a window onto the virtual world of the simulation. It was based on two Silicon Graphics POWER ONYX systems w/RealityEngine2 graphics engines driving four high resolution rear projectors. I was interested in the project in part because of my belief that the computer communication problem does not stop at the terminal screen, but should consider the problems of human perception and collaboration.


Here is Paul showing it to fellow Astrophysicists at Supercomputing 94 (lcse picture)