PORTLAND, Ore. Supercomputer developers were issued a "call to action" to address the needs of the "3D Web" at the SC09 conference here. Keynote speaker Justin Rattner, chief technology officer at Intel Corp., said that high-performance computing (HPC) was currently only growing at rate of 3.8 percent per year, and needed to boost growth by addressing the needs of the 3D Web.
"Nothing is more important to the long term health of the HPC industry than the 3D Web," said Rattner. "Government support is no longer enough to ensure that we are building the best HPC systems possible. It's time to apply all of our HPC skills to the development, standardization and use of the 3D Web."
What Rattner calls the 3D Web includes massive multiplayer role-playing games like World of Warcraft. But while virtual worlds are still growing markets, Rattner said that to invigorate supercomputing, it needs established revenue bases like the multi-trillion dollar fashion industry.
"I want to challenge you to think about 3D Web simulations in a different way," said Rattner. "Fashion, for instance, is the last major industry to be computerized."
Today the fashion industry operates almost completely in manual mode. Designers make sketches which are sent to a factory that sews together a prototype. The designer then sketches alterations to be made, and the process repeats. To computerize the fashion industry, Intel is working with the Fashion Research Institute Inc. (FRI) to replace physical prototyping with online 3D modeling software. According to the FRI, converting the design process into a 3D web application could cut prototyping costs by 65 percent and the design time by 75 percent.
"Today cloth simulation can take up six minutes per frame to render, but we in the HPC community need to find ways to do that in real-time," said Rattner.
The solution, according to Rattner, is for supercomputer architects to repurpose their scientific simulations to satisfy the needs of fashion designers. And once fashion designers start using computers, their applications will begin to trickle down to consumers who could start designing their own clothes on the 3D Web, using personal avatars to model them, then have their personalized designs delivered tailor made.
Intel is doing its part, according to Rattner, by designing advanced processors like its Nehalem multi-core processor and its companion Larrabee multi-core graphics accelerator due out in 2010. Intel is also developing a new parallel processing software technology called "Ct" for "C for Throughput Computing."
According to Rattner, now it's up to the supercomputing community to harness these supercomputing tools to tackle 3D web applications that can drive HPC into mass markets like fashion.