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Mar 23 2017

FUJITSU CELSIUS Workstations and Virtual Reality: a Perfect Match

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Once described as complex and expensive technologies with limited commercial viability, VR and AR solutions have long left the experimental habitat and are now ready to go mainstream, offering up a new chance to build what we at Fujitsu call a human-centric IT landscape. Our new, VR-certified CELSIUS workstations allow for a smooth and easy transition into the new era.

At the turn of the millennium, the idea of "Virtual Reality" (VR) was uncharted territory for most. Sure, sci-fi writers and their audience had cultivated wild speculations about the consequences an unrestrained 'computerization' might have for working environments and the media. But their assumptions were of little interest to a vast majority that had to handle the aftermath of the Internet revolution and simply wasn't ready for yet another groundbreaking concept. At the same time, the entertainment industry often tended to paint a rather bleak picture of an upcoming computer age in which the machines took over, as best exemplified in the Terminator and Matrix movies. In stark contrast, only very few people recognized the potential positive impact VR and its cousin Augmented Reality (AR) might have in technically demanding industries such as construction, engineering, healthcare or the aerospace/defense sector.

Fast forward to 2017, and you find yourself in an age where the concepts of VR and AR turn out to be commonplace. Yet many organizations still wonder about the best ways to put them to practical use – however, this has nothing to do with a lack of technical expertise or readiness to innovate, and everything with a lack of hardware platforms that could help IT departments carry out a smooth transition.

Fujitsu and VR
Fujitsu aims to address the professional side of VR – going beyond 360° visuals and CGI-enriched scenes – in order to create fully immersive and highly interactive 3D environments that enable users to freely explore these computer-generated worlds and interact with objects but moreover to enable collaboration, i.e. active interaction in a VR scene.

So which components are required to successfully build such environments? At Fujitsu, we reckon these elements – a head-mount display (HMD) capable of rendering scenes at a pace of 90 frames per second, professional VR-ready graphics cards from NVIDIA®, and Intel® Core™ i7 or Intel® Xeon® processors with highest possible frequencies. Our new CELSIUS VR-ready workstations were designed to fulfill these demands.

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Fig. 1: The FUJITSU CELSIUS H970 mobile workstation is perfect for modeling realistic images on the go

FUJITSU CELSIUS VR-Ready Workstations
Fujitsu debuted its VR-certified portfolio back in November 2016 with the arrival of the NVIDIA® Quadro® P5000 and P6000 graphics cards with up to amazing 24 GB GGDR5 SGRAM and 3840 CUDA cores. Being first to market with these professional VR-ready graphics cards, the CELSIUS M740 single-processor mid-range desktop workstation and the dual-processor CELSIUS R940 high-end desktop workstations are the ideal equipment for simulation, visualization, high-end rendering and VR. At CeBIT 2017, the portfolio has been complemented by the new FUJITSU CELSIUS H970 mobile workstation and its desktop cousin CELSIUS W570power+. All workstations support a broad selection of design and engineering applications as described below. But first, let's look at the hardware:

  • The FUJITSU CELSIUS H970 mobile workstation aims to bring design processes to life and delivers desktop-like performance thanks to the NVIDIA® Quadro® P5000 graphics card with up to 2048 CUDA cores. With its 17.3-inch (43.9-cm) anti-glare screen and Full HD resolution, it's the perfect platform for modeling realistic images and making real-time alterations to plans while on the move. Moreover, there is no need to search for an adapter for presentations: the H970 connects to external displays or beamers via its full-size DisplayPort (DP) and VGA interfaces or two Thunderbolt™ 3 ports that double as DP connectors and also allow for 4K resolution on external displays. In addition, the USB Type-C ports will connect to external storage media and a broad selection of other peripherals using the Thunderbolt protocol, which allows for data transfer rates of up to 40 Gbit/s. For easy serviceability, components are accessible via the service door conveniently located in its base.
  • The CELSIUS W570power+ is probably best described as the 'hot rod edition' of the CELSIUS W570. Designed specifically for CAD and BIM scenarios, it packs lots of performance and functionality into an innovative, 21-liter microtower design that's nearly 30% smaller than its predecessor, yet still offers the same level of performance. The CELSIUS W570power+ features up to three NVMe PCIe M.2 modules, seven disk drives and the NVIDIA Quadro P4000 graphics card. In combination with professional HMDs, users will enjoy a particularly immersive VR experience.
  • The FUJITSU CELSIUS M740 is a single-processor system powered by the latest Intel® Xeon® E5-1600 processors or higher and up to two graphics cards.
  • By contrast, the corresponding FUJITSU CELSIUS R940 model is a dual-processor system equipped with the latest Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 processors and can host up to three NVIDIA® Quadro® P5000 or up to two NVIDIA® Quadro® P6000 VR-ready graphics cards.

All workstations come with the low latency/high frame rates rendering capabilities required to run high-end VR applications and easily deliver a graphics performance of 90 FPS – four times as much as the accepted minimum 24 FPS for 3D CAD work on a 2D display. For a fully immersive experience, Fujitsu recommends the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift HMD. Both offer a resolution of 2160 x 1200 pixels (1080 x 1200 pixels per eye) and connect to the workstations via HDMI, USB or DisplayPort interfaces. Also included are sensor systems for tracking an individual user's position in the room, controllers for interacting with objects in the virtual world, and the necessary audio equipment. Exactly which headset a customer should pick largely depends on the device's capability to provide a real-time, fully immersive VR experience in actual application scenarios.

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Fig. 2: The FUJITSU CELSIUS W570power+ was specifically designed for CAD and BIM scenarios

Application Scenarios
Thanks to a comprehensive set of certifications from independent software vendors such as Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, Siemens PLM and PTC, all models will support a broad selection of applications and easily integrate into existing environments. Possible usage scenarios include

  • Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) – Ideal for a design validation process: Architects, site managers and owners can 'walk around' inside a virtual representation of the house they are building and will thus be able to develop a better sense of scale and proportion, which in turn may help avoid (or eliminate) construction mishaps.
  • Product development and training in the automotive and other engineering sectors – engineers will be able to design, build, analyze and improve realistic models of the machines they want to develop and may even simulate manufacturing and repair processes, all without building costly prototypes or ending up with inadequate production facilities.
  • Healthcare – doctors and nurses can 'test-drive' virtual operating rooms and thus contribute to an optimal design required for complex and/or everyday surgery.
  • Media and Entertainment – with VR, it's no longer necessary to travel to and physically attend great sports events or concerts; instead, users can transfer the full experience of the next Super Bowl or Rolling Stones gig right into their living room and get closer to the stars than ever before; likewise, film and special effects studios can use VR to create even more compelling visuals that literally draw the audience into the action onscreen.
  • Aerospace and Defense – VR can be used to simulate the adverse conditions on foreign planets or in theaters, thus helping the teams on site to operate more effectively and stay alive.
  • Retail, Sales, and Marketing – imagine you can present any product in 3 square meters without any limits: Future online shops, sales campaigns and company showrooms will use VR to give potential customers an entirely new feel for the product, e.g. by letting them inspect the new car in detail, take a seat on the new piece of furniture, visit a new tourism site, fly with an airplane or even trying on a new pair of jeans.

For a comprehensive overview and deeper insights into what's already possible today, please check out our Special Report Virtual Reality for Professionals (created with help from Develop3D) or contact your Fujitsu account manager.

Availability and Pricing
The CELSIUS W570power+ desktop workstation is available to order globally, with shipments due to start in early May 2017. All other VR-ready workstations are available from Fujitsu and its channel partners. Pricing varies by configuration and region.

Natalie Walther

 

About the Author:

Natalie Walther

Global Workstation Product Marketing Manager, Fujitsu

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