Integraph unveils Wintel approach to low-cost simulation

RESTON, Va. - Engineers at Intergraph Corp. of Huntsville, Ala., are using what they call their "Wintel" approach, which combines the Windows NT operating system and Intel Pentium processors, to carve out their own niche in the military simulation market against the more expensive RISC/UNIX-based platforms.

Jul 1st, 1997

By John Rhea

RESTON, Va. - Engineers at Intergraph Corp. of Huntsville, Ala., are using what they call their "Wintel" approach, which combines the Windows NT operating system and Intel Pentium processors, to carve out their own niche in the military simulation market against the more expensive RISC/UNIX-based platforms.

In a Reston, Va., demonstration of a cockpit training simulator for an out-of-the-window view from an A-10 close air support aircraft in simulated combat against a desktop simulator for a T-72 main battle tank, company experts exhibited a line of simulators based on common technologies with open-system architectures.

The goal is to drive down costs. For example, a stealth monitor that instructors and observers use in simulated exercises costs less than $21,000 per seat - with 3D textured graphics. Comparable RISC/UNIX systems run $50,000-$60,000 per seat without texturing and more than $200,000 for high-end graphics.

The systems demonstrated were dual- and quad-200 MHz Pentium Pro workstations with as much as 2.5 megapixels of textured graphics for distributed interactive simulation applications. This is an approach that enables several simulators to communicate together using a common protocol. The supporting platform software, including the A-10 representation, came from Intergraph`s software partner, CG2 in Huntsville, Ala.

The stealth monitors, so-called because they only observe the simulated combat rather than participating in it, are required for at least three applications, Intergraph officials say:

- instructors sitting next to a particular crew (say of a tank) and being able to switch between the views seen by the commander, driver, and gunner;

- staff officers directing their forces on the battlefield; and

- commanders performing after-action reviews at the conclusion of an exercise, reviewing the data from different points of view, and discovering where mistakes were made.

The systems are also reconfigurable and use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) digital signal processors and application-specific integrated circuits, says Robert Thurber, Intergraph executive vice president.

An example is the A-10 simulator that officials from the U.S. Army are evaluating. Intergraph experts also have developed what they call their Arctic Box algorithm for data compression that enables realistic simulations to run over three voice-grade telephone lines using a 28.8 modem.

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