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VIzLab Procedures

Reference Manual

PSC VizLab Reference Manual

Introduction

Room Specifications (selected components)

  • 24 Planer MX46HDU-L-ERO 46” HD LCD panels, arranged in a 6x4 grid
  • RGB Spectrum MediaWall V 550 Processor
  • OPPO BDP-103 Blu-Ray Player
  • Apple TV (Gen4)
  • 2 Vladdio Roboshot 12 USB Cameras
  • Crestron CP3 AV Control System

A/V Technical Overview

  • Source Devices
  • RGB Spectrum
  • Video Wall

Room Booking Process

Walkthrough the process (booking, training, acceptable use, lead time for software changes, account provisioning, etc)

Windows Computer

System Specifications

  • Operating Systems: Windows 10 Enterprise (1607)
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-5930K (“Haswell-E” architecture, 6 cores/12 threads, 3.5Ghz/3.7Ghz clocks)
  • Motherboard: Asus X99-E WS/USB 3.1
  • RAM: 96GB (6x 2133MHz DDR4)
  • Storage: 256GB SSD (OS drive), 2x2TB HDD (User Data, configured as RAID1)
  • Video: 3x nVidia Quadro K5000 GPUs (“Kepler” architecture, 1536 CUDA cores, 4GB GDDR5)
  • Network: Intel X520-SR2 10gigE Ethernet (MM fiber)

Display Configuration

  • 6 4k video outs split 3 cards
  • nvidia mosaic single pane only 1 resolution

DPI Scaling

When the wall is displaying its full resolution, text and UI elements in applications can be too small to read. We’ve implemented DPI scaling in Windows to enlarge text and UI elements 200% to improve usability. Windows applications coded to the appropriate modern standards will display their UI elements at the larger size, but render the actual visuals (images, graphs, etc.) at full resolution. Older applications that aren’t coded this way will generally pixel double their visuals horizontally and vertically to match the UI size. This results in the loss of 75% of available resolution. The only way around this is to run the application at 100% and work around the smaller UI with tools such as the magnifier. We’ve set certain applications where high resolution is desired such as ImageJ & Google Earth to run at 100%, so that the images displayed use the full resolution of the wall.

Magnifier

You can use the windows magnifier to enlarge portions of the display that are too small to read. This opens a magnified ‘box’ around the cursor location, providing a ‘zoomed in’ view. You can enable and disable the magnifier with the following hotkeys

  • Enable or Zoom In – Mouse Forward button (or <Win> <+> on keyboard)
  • [DLB1] Zoom Out – Mouse Back button (or <Win> <–> on keyboard)
  • Disable Zoom – Mouse Scroll button tilt left (or <Win> <Esc> on keyboard)

Video Memory Limitations

The video cards on this system have 4GB of RAM. Although there are 3 cards, because various framebuffers and textures must be shared across cards, there isn’t 12GB of available memory, but instead 4GB[DLB2] . Some 3D applications that work fine at lower resolutions may need to allocate more than 4GB of texture and buffer memory running at the full video wall resolution. Symptoms of this problem include severe application slowdowns, texture corruption or crashes. Possible solutions include reducing texture memory or buffer size needs in the application (may not be possible in all applications), or to run the application in a window that does not take up the whole screen.

Performance Issues

CUDA

GPU Accelerated CUDA applications are supported. The configuration is [DLB3] set so that all GPUs are used for both graphics and compute needs. ECC mode is not supported, as it is incompatible with Mosaic.

Video Conferencing

Hardware

Video conferencing in the room is supported via microphones and speakers in the ceiling, and two video cameras (one front facing and one rear facing). The room microphones, speakers, and camera source should already be configured on the computer for use. For reference, the device names are:

  • Microphone Array: Echo Cancelling Speakerphone (TesiraFORTE)
  • Speakers: Speakers (Realtek High Definition Audio)
  • Camera: XI100DUSB-HDMI Video

Camera settings, including tilt/pan/zoom, are controlled via the Creston touch panel interface via the ‘Camera Controls’ tab. The Crestron interface will also let you switch the video feed into the computer between the front and rear room cameras. The Crestron interface is also used to adjust microphone and speaker volume. Consult the A/V troubleshooting section for issues with the audio or microphones.

Software

  • Skype – The consumer Skype client is installed on the computer. When started, you must log in with your personal skype account for access. Once logged in it should pull your address book, etc. from the cloud.
  • Google Hangouts – The google hangouts browser plugins are preinstalled[DLB4] . You must log into your personal Google account for access.
  • Bluejeans - [DLB5] 

User Data Management

Data Persistence

The system has Deepfreeze installed. Deepfreeze automatically rolls back any changes made upon reboot. Everything on the C: drive is nonpersistant; changes/additions/deletions can be made, but they will be reverted on the next boot. The D: drive does not use deepfreeze, and any content there persists across reboots. User data should be stored on the d: drive. To aid in this, certain common user folders are mapped to d:\userdata (Contacts, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Favorites, Links, Music, Pictures, Searches, Start Menu, Videos). AppData/Roaming also mapped. Virtualbox is configured (via VBOX_USER_HOME environment variable) to use d:\userdata\%username%\.virtualbox as its configuration directory, and d:\userdata\%username%\virtualbox vms as its vm storage directory.

Disk Usage and Quotas

The D: drive has a quota (currently 400GB) per user profile. Note that there is only 2TB of disk available, so 400GB represents the maximum amount of space that can be consumed by a user, not guaranteed allocation of space. Depending on usage, we may adjust quotas as needed. We may delete old/unused user data to reclaim space (scheduled TBD). This user space is provisioned for use in the vizlab, it is not designed to be the primary storage location for data. Users are responsible for backup, the library does not back up any of the data.

The current proposal is to have a user folder that is only accessible by the user, and a shared public space that anybody can add or remove files from. Both locations (on the D: drive) will be subject to the same combined 400GB quota, and one or both locations will be accessible from the network.

Transferring Data In and Out

Store data in documents folder (redirected?)

Remote access to machine on win/osx/linux

USB device

Accessing remote CIFS or web data

Software List

  • 7-Zip
  • Adobe CC (Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, etc.)
  • BlueJeans
  • Fiji (image J+)
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Earth
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Microsoft Maps
  • Microsoft Office 2016 Word, Excel, others except OneNote
  • Virtualbox
  • Paraview
  • Anaconda (two versions of Python within Anaconda)
  • RStudio
  • Skype
  • Vapor
  • VLC
  • Worldwide Telescope

Application Notes

Useful Keyboard Shortcuts

Web Browsing

Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 are installed on this system. When running the browser maximized across the full resolution of the video wall, some websites, especially ones performing heavy graphical compositing or webGL may exhibit display corruption or crashes. Running in a smaller window can sometimes help, or trying a different browser. When running full resolution, we’ve found that Microsoft Edge seems to have the best results. 

VirtualBox

Installed. Where do settings go. Where do VMs go. 4096x4096 limitation, so turn on scaling in config?

Google Earth/Microsoft Maps

For viewing generic map or aerial views, the Google Earth and Microsoft Maps applications are installed on the machine. Running maximized across the full resolution of the wall, these applications work better than their browser based counterparts (e.g. maps.google.com). Google Earth has a much greater functionality than Microsoft Maps, allowing custom data layers, etc. However, the Google Earth application is older, and does not support high resolution modes without very small UI elements. It is also less stable running maximized. If only simple map or aerial views are need, consider using Microsoft Maps. It is a more modern application and we’ve found it to be both more stable and performant.

Video Playback - VLC Media Player

The VLC Media Player is installed on the system[DLB6] . VLC can play most audo/video file formats, and we’ve found is the more stable and performant than other options. Video playback performance is dependent on many factors, including video codec used, specific codec settings, resolution and frame rate. As a general rule of thumb, videos that play without frame drops with VLC on a normal desktop system should play well on the VizWall system. As a data point, UHD 30fps h264 main profile video [DLB7] plays back without frame drops scaled to the full resolution of the video wall. 8K h264 video seems to fall out of the accelerated video decode path and cannot maintain the same frame rate.

Microsoft Excel 2016

Excel works well on the system, but it will not work correctly at full screen. When you initially launch Excel, it launches in full screen and displays a blank white screen. In order to begin to use it, you must change the window size of Excel. You can do this quickly by using Windows keyboard shortcuts. For instance, <Win> + <Left Arrow> moves Excel to the left half of the screen, and it will then display all the normal options instead of a blank screen. Excel can be expanded to use approximately 75% of the screen before it begins to fail. This is a known bug and can be found referenced here:

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/forum/msoffice_powerpoint-mso_win10/ms-office-support-at-high-resolution/6e105c89-ffe5-4ad5-bce2-ec35711e1de5

Microsoft OneNote 2016

OneNote 2016 does not work acceptably at high resolutions. It is a known failure of Microsoft Office. See the link in the Excel 2016 section.

WorldWide Telescope

WorldWide Telescope runs in 100% DPI mode, instead of the default 200%. This is so it can display all the pixels, instead of pixel doubling. Because of this, menu items are quite small and it is recommended to use the Magnifier (documented earlier) in conjunction with the app.

A/V Troubleshooting

Problem: No Audio/Wrong Source

  1. First check that the right audio source is being sent to the speakers. On the ‘Video Wall’ tab of the Crestron device, look at what is being output in the ‘To Speakers’ box. If this is not the source you are expecting, touch the source name you want audio to play from (e.g. ‘Win PC 1’ or ‘Apple TV’) and the touch the white box next to ‘To Speakers’.
  2. Next check to make sure the volume isn’t muted on the Crestron. On the ‘Video Wall’ tab of the Crestron device, make sure the volume isn’t all the way down, or the system is muted. The system is muted when the speaker icon under the volume controls has a red crossthrough icon. Touch it to mute/unmute.

Problem: Microphones don’t work –

  1. Check the ‘Mics’ tab on the Crestron device. Make sure that the microphone you want to use is unmuted. The system is muted when the speaker icon under the volume controls has a red crossthrough icon. Touch it to mute/unmute. Also make sure that the level controls are not turned all the way down.

Problem: Cluster of 4 displays is dark after logging into windows –

  1. known display resync issue with the RGB Spectrum. Log out and log back in to force a resync.

Glossary

  • HD – “High Definition” 1920x1080 pixels
  • UHD – “Ultra High Definition” 3840x2160 pixels
  • Crestron

 

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