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At the time this brochure was published (1992), the current high-end systems of the day were Crimson and SkyWriter. Later, Onyx was released along with RealityEngine2, etc. See the main SGI index for further information, eg. RealityEngine in Visual Simulation (Technical Overview) and the original brochure for IRIS Crimson.

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Host Integrated Computer Image Generator

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RealityEngine sets a new standard of price/performance for low cost image generation. Combining high performance, exceptional image quality, real-time host capability and a highly flexible development environment. RealityEngine leads the way in the next generation of low cost visual systems.

RealityEngine is a new class of image generator providing exceptional performance and quality in a platform that is not only easy to use, but also highly flexible. Addressing the needs of the breadth of low-cost visual simulation applications, RealityEngine will open the way to a more flexible and open simulation approach.

Image Quality

RealityEngine supports full screen, sub-sampled anti-aliasing at high frame rates. Combining this with a 32 bit Z buffer ensures complete hidden surface removal. This not only produces exceptional image equality, but enables unrestricted database design and freedom of moving model control. Directional light shading and full color smooth shading enable textured scenes of remarkable realism. Image quality is exceptional for low light and sensor simulation with provision of 12 bit per component color capability.


RealityEngine is designed to meet the challenging performance requirements of image generation. The highly optimized architecture is tuned to generate high quality, anti-aliased, textured images at a selectable range of fixed frame rates in a multichannel configuration. RealityEngine, with the IRIS Performer simulation software, implements object processing, load control and performance streamlining. RealityEngine generates up to 7000 textured antialiased polygons per pipeline at 30Hz, resulting in scenes with high depth complexity and detail, new to this class of low-cost visual system.

Texture Capabilities

RealityEngine is a system designed to excel in texture capability. Size, efficiency, capacity, performance, configurability and quality arc the key texture features of RealityEngine. A standard 4MB of on-line texture memory enables up to 380 simultaneous on-line 128 x 128 mip-mapped textures. The texture memory can be re-mapped under software control and supports a maximum 1024 x 1024 texel map size. All textures can be mapped with R,G,B and Alpha components, with up to 48 bits per texel, providing true photomap texture capability. The system is tuned to process trilinear mip-mapped anti-aliased textured pixels at peak performance. This ensures smoothly anti-aliased, realistic images regardless of eyepoint orientation. Enhanced speed and distance cues are provided by the use of new texture functions such as DetailTexture and SharpTexture.

Exceptional image quality, real-time performance, multiprocessor host capability and an open architecture makes RealityEngine the cost effective choice for low-cost image generation applications.

[Click to download larger version] The Open Architecture Approach

Image generators are typically designed to perform to a rigid specification. It is natural, however, for requirements to change over time. This presents a need to evolve the system beyond the initial installation. With conventional image generation systems this can often be difficult. RealityEngine provides the solution. With a hardware subsystem and software development environment designed for image generation, RealityEngine provides access to real-time visual system technology that is fully extensible.

(image courtesy of Hughes Training Inc.)

[Click to download larger version] Highly Flexible Environment

RealityEngine is highly configurable. Channels can be organized to efficiently meet visual requirements, ensuring the lowest cost and highest performance. The system is configurable not only prior to but also following installation. Supporting up to 4 high resolution (1280 x 1024) outputs with independent eyepoints and a display output of 372K to 5.2 million displayable textured, pixels, the system can be configured to drive 1 to 12 channels from a single system chassis. Display line rates are fully definable, either from a set of standard line formats or as user defined custom outputs.

(image courtesy of Paradigm Simulation)

Host Functionality

RealityEngine is not only an image generator but also can address the host functions of the simulation. The multi-processor RISC CPU subsystem and real-time operating system offer a computation environment that can address the vehicle dynamics, data acquisition and system control functions normally handled by a separate computer. The HI-CIG (Host Integrated Computer Image Generator) approach minimizes integration, support and connectivity issues ensuring a more cost effective approach and reducing system build time.

A wide variety of third-party simulation packages are available for RealityEngine enabling rapid, flexible solutions to simulation applications.

[Click to download larger version] The Software Advantage

IRIS Performer provides high performance, rapid development, rich functionality and future portability. It consists of a rapid rendering library, image generation environment and a number of sample simulation applications. IRIS Performer maximizes throughput using multiprocessor task partitioning, efficient database traversal and highly optimized graphics rendering. It provides dcterministic, real-time control of the visual system without the constraints imposed by traditionally rigid image generation system design.

[Click to download larger version] Special Effects Development and Control

Special effects have become an increasingly important element of visual systems. IRIS Performer provides the ability to access and define a range of unique special effects. Many visual effects can be difficult to implement due to their reliance on underlying hardware or microcode. IRIS Performer provides easy access to functions such as point lights and weather effects. Because IRIS Performer permits access to the full functionality of the graphics subsystem it is also possible to integrate additional custom developed effects for specific requirements.

(image courtesy of Software Systems, Inc.)

Database Modeling - In Control of Your Own World

IRIS Performer loads databases in a predefined format for real-time processing and display. IRIS Performer can be configured to access different database formats (MultiGen database format is standard). Using third party software, modelling can he performed on the same system as the image generation, making RealityEngine highly cost efficient. This enables the user to develop and modify database files quickly, immediately seeing the changes reflected in the visual system, reducing development times and costs.

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Flight Simulation

The ability to configure low cost multi-channel configurations with high update rates, quality anti-aliased point lights, weather and atmospheric capabilities, makes RealityEngine an attractive choice for low cost flight simulation image generator applications.

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Maritime Applications

RealityEngine is highly cost effective for multi-channel configurations making it ideal for marine simulation. The system's ability to handle complex special effects also enables the solution of challenging but important cues such as sea state simulation.

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Space Applications

In space, unique special effects are required, such as reflection mapping, accurate lighting and shadows. RealityEngine provides these with the ability to extend the system capabilities to address future requirements.

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Ground Based Simulation

Low cost, high performance, configurability and inter-system network capabilities make RealityEngine ideal for ground based team training environments. Silicon Graphics also provides systems for solutions in the host, modelling, planning and debrief applications.

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Driving Simulation

Extensive texture capability and dynamic scene management makes RealityEngine suitable for driving simulation applications. Reconfigurable line rates and multiple channel capability also make the installation highly flexible.

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Virtual Reality

As simulation is used more extensively for interactive real-time visualization across the range of market segments, RealityEngine provides the realism, interactivity, and price-performance that is required to address this blend of visualization and simulation.


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3D Texture

This advanced and highly flexible feature can be used to address a series of complex special effects. Texel values are defined in a 3 dimensional coordinate system. Textures are then extracted from this volume by defining a 3D plane that intersects it. The resulting texture that is applied to the surface is thus the intersection between the volume and the plane. The orientation of the plane is completely user definable.

One example of how 3D Texture could be used is in implementing an animated texture sequence. The texture volume would be defined as a series of consecutive images, making up the animation. The volume is then intersected in the direction of the arrow, extracting each animation frame in sequence. Automatic blending between consecutive images ensures smooth animation.

Detail Texture

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In order to enhance speed and distance cues when close to a surface, DetailTexture automatically blends in a predefined texture to existing textured polygons. This secondary texture is user defined and can be full color. An extension to this function is SharpTexture, that automatically sharpens the texture edges when the eyepoint is close-to, providing greatly improved image definition without the use of higher resolution textures.

Projected Texture

[Click to download larger version] [Click to download larger version] [Click to download larger version]

RealityEngine supports 3D texture projection. The ability to project textures in 3D space enables a number of useful special effects: Steerable spotlights of definable lobe shape, shadow projection onto 3D surfaces and environmental reflection onto textured surfaces are just a few examples.


Product Scope

Visual Output

Visual Priority

Surface Capacity

Texture Capability

Image Quality

Scene Management

Mission Functions

Special Effects

Moving Models

Weather/Environmental Effects

Transport Delay

Video Capabilities


Software Tools

Light Points

Host Functionality

Sensor Simulation


For more information please call:

U.S. 1 800 800 SGI 1 (7441)
U.K. 0 800 440 440
Australia 008 802 677

Corporate Office

2011 N. Shoreline Boulevard
Mountain View, CA 94043
(415) 960-1980

SGI Corporate Logo

Copyright 1992 Silicon Graphics, Inc. All rights reserved. Silicon Graphics, IRIS and the Silicon Graphics logo are registered trademarks, and RealityEngine and IRIS Performer are trademarks of Silicon Graphics, Inc. MultiGen is a registered trademark of Software Systems Inc. Specifications are subject to change without notice.

Typed up by Ian Mapleson (mapleson@gamers.org) on 22/Nov/98
Original Document Code: RE-HostICIG-DS (7/92)

Ian's SGI Depot: FOR SALE! SGI Systems, Parts, Spares and Upgrades

(check my current auctions!)
[WhatsNew] [P.I.] [Indigo] [Indy] [O2] [Indigo2] [Crimson] [Challenge] [Onyx] [Octane] [Origin] [Onyx2]
[Future Technology Research Index] [SGI Tech/Advice Index] [Nintendo64 Tech Info Index]