About HIPerWall

What is HIPerWall and why the funny spelling/capitalization?

HIPerWall (Highly Interactive Parallelized Display Wall) is a 200 Megapixel tiled display wall built at Calit2 (California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology) at UC Irvine. It is designed to visualize enormous data sets and allows viewers to see detail, with 100 dots per inch on the screens, while retaining the context of an overview by seeing surrounding data (also in high detail). This allows a group of scientists to collaborate, share detailed information, while still keeping the big picture. The "IP" in the name is emphasized because we build our technology on the Internet Protocol.

Is it a product? How do I get one?

HIPerWall is available in several forms - see the Availability section for more information. It is a combination of commodity hardware that is relatively easy to replicate and software to coordinate the computers and displays and data. This software is the product of our research and is in ongoing development. The software scales from small (2x2 tiles) to even larger than HIPerWall's 10x5 tiles, so it can support a system for a small workgroup or meeting room or an emergency response center or a hospital.

If HIPerWall technology would benefit your project, we are willing to work with you to help construct an appropriate tiled display and license our software. We are interested in new applications and, with research sponsorship, will customize our software for your needs.

How do you get images/data that big?

Because the resolution of HIPerWall is so high (25600x8000 pixels), generating images and data sets for HIPerWall is quite a challenge. Conventional tools, like PhotoShop, can open such large images on machines with a lot of memory, but it takes a long time and interactivity is impossible. HIPerWall uses software to coordinate each of the tiles so it shows the proper part of an image or data set at the appropriate zoom and gives the appearance that many display tiles act in unison. Ongoing research into how to deliver data to the nodes in a timely manner will allow rapid dissemination of enormous data sets for use on HIPerWall.

What are HIPerWall's components?

  • Number of displays: 50 (Apple 30-in Cinema Display 2,560 x 1,600 pixels)
  • Resolution: 25,600 x 8,000 pixels
  • Number of display nodes: 25 + a front-end node and development nodes
  • 11 Dual 2.5 GHz PoweMac G5's with nVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL
  • 17 Quad 2.7 GHz PowerMac G5's with nVidia Quadro FX4500s
  • Operating System: Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
  • Software: TileViewer, EQVis, CGLX

Who paid for HIPerWall?

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI), under Award #0421554, the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering (HSSoE).

What is the current project status? What are the project's biggest needs?

HIPerWall research is continuing, but is currently unfunded. We are very interested in new applications and opportunities to collaborate with researchers or organizations that can use large-scale visualization. HIPerWall itself is available for collaborations and use by UCI researchers and affiliates for an hourly recharge fee.

Why LCD panels and not projectors?

LCD-based tiled displays have several advantages over projector-based tiled displays.

  • Provides better resolution per size
  • Consumes lower energy -> less heat
  • Takes up less space
  • Better contrast
  • Does not require a specially-designed large projection wall (e.g. rear-projection-based system requires a special glass wall)
  • Easy to scale

But there are disadvantages, too.

  • Bezels, bezels, bezels. This is the biggest complaint we have. We expect in 10-15 years, new cost-effective display technologies, like flexible organic electroluminescent display sheets, that will allow us to do away with the bezels.
  • Unlike with a projector, you cannot replace a lamp alone