Virtual reality has become one of the most talked about technologies around. It covers all industry sectors and stretches across multiple workflows; however, there is a common perception VR is only used for consumer enjoyment— games and 360 degree videos on YouTube. But VR is so much more than that. Although the consumer markets are taking VR to the masses there is a big difference between VR content consumption and VR content creation, or professional VR. ProVR is the professional side of the technology and one that can add tremendous value within the corporate world.
Every industry from media & entertainment to oil & gas can benefit from ProVR. And, over the past few years we’ve seen a rapid increase in accessibility for a wider range of professionals across disciplines. One major benefit of ProVR is the ability to scale massively from a targeted area of your business to multiple end-to-end workflows across the entire company – revolutionizing the way you do business. Professionals are learning how VR can add real value and revolutionize the way they work.
Whether you’re the CEO walking through the halls of a new building before construction begins, the team owner seeing the view from every seat in a new stadium before giving final sign off, or a medical student training for surgery; these real-world scenarios can be accomplished today with immense visual quality and fidelity thanks to the incredible levels of GPU processing power available with NVIDIA Quadro Pascal graphics cards and Lenovo Workstations.
For example, VR allows design teams working in different locations around the world to work in a virtual environment where mock ups, development iterations and design review can happen collaboratively and seamlessly in real-time. Teams can then immerse clients in a VR design review process to gauge scale and feasibility, and get immediate feedback.
Even major insurance companies have stepped away from training their adjusters to examine wrecked cars in a physical warehouse. Thanks to VR, they visit a virtual warehouse, put on a HMD and walk through examining 3D scan data of the wrecked cars; eliminating the cost for insurers to build and maintain training facilities across the nation. The possibilities are endless.
How to Scale VR: From On-the-Go to Immersive Caves
Professionals looking to remain competitive in their industry need to embrace the evolution of VR and the benefits for their business. From the beginning, this can start with a single VR system, a HMD and a single mobile or desktop workstation, such as our ThinkPad P71 or ThinkStation P320. This type of set up can provide a portable VR experience for sales presentations, customer meetings or on-the-go creation. Individual members of teams working on a particular part of a project can also benefit from this level of set up.
As you advance your VR projects to include larger groups and collaboration, you will need to add more processing, memory and graphics power to deliver a higher quality VR experience. This is where the scalable power from dual CPU, expandable workstations like the Lenovo ThinkStation P920 and P720 come into play. This next step in power and performance also is key to delivering a truly collaborative VR experience. While team members may be scattered using independent, single VR systems, this more advanced setup acts as a central hub that allows users to remotely connect and jump into an environment take full advantage of this more robust solution.
This level can even scale for larger projected VR environments, incorporating high resolution 4K projectors that can go beyond 100 inches in size. Each projector would be powered by a workstation, allowing multi-users in the same physical space to collaborate together in a VR space.
Technology like NVIDIA Quadro VR SLI can be utilized too, enabling each eye within a Head Mounted Display to rendered by its own GPU. This delivers even more performance and the highest possible quality VR experience.
Of course, you can always shoot for the top and move into a VR cave; incorporating multiple workstations and high resolution projectors to power a different side or wall of the cave.
Make it Happen: Creating a Good VR Experience
Unfortunately there are two types of VR experiences, good ones and bad ones with not much room in the middle. To ensure you deliver the right experience make sure you have sufficient levels of graphics and computing power. This is why choosing the right configuration of workstation as part of your VR solution is critical. If you want to deliver maximum return on investment, while providing a system that delivers for your business, then it pays to invest well In the end cheap can also become expensive in the long run. Another consideration is a VR system with the ability to grow and work with you and future projects.
So how do you get it right?
The first consideration should be the choice of graphics cards since VR experience is driven by the workstations GPU. Making sure you have a suitably powerful graphics card with enough graphics memory is critical to ensure high refresh rates and enough space to host you 3D data and scenes. As models get larger, more complex and detailed, the graphics memory can become a limiting factor. Insufficient graphics memory is typically where lag, dropped frames and even nausea can become an issue.
Speaking of memory; ideally 32GB of system memory is recommended.
Second is your processor. You’ll need to configure your workstation with enough processing power to drive your graphics card, applications and drivers. Typically anything with a processor clock speed of 3.4GHz or more can get the job done, so there isn’t a need to blow your budget here. The majority of VR software is single-threaded so there isn’t a ton of competition for CPUs cores; but additional rendering engines and data processing tasks can demand more form the CPU. To avoid a bottleneck, we recommend at least four cores. Intel Xeon processors work particularly well here and deliver a fine balance between raw processing power and reliability.
Whether you’re ready to take your first steps into the VR space or are fully immersed in it, Lenovo is here to help. For suggested system configurations, solution information or just to learn more about our products – visit www.thinkworkstations.com/products/.