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LAAD 2015 is one of this year’s largest aerospace, defense, and security events in Brazil, if not in Latin America as a whole. VT MÄK had the opportunity to showcase its technologies as part of the ST Electronics stand showcasing a variety of simulation solutions, as well as having our own stand where we demonstrated our latest released products.

MÄK is well established in Brazil with many customers implementing our modeling and simulation tools in a variety applications, ranging from the Embraer Super Tucano simulator, ITA’s C4i research, to AEL interoperability implementation.  

At LAAD 2015 visitors experienced the best-in-class simulation tools of VR-Forces 4.3 and our visual solution VR-Vantage 2.0, plus other technological solutions such as WebLVC.

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We’ve talked about Latency and we’ve talked about Throughput in the MAK RTI, but now we’ll get into HLA Services.

One major advantage of the MÄK RTI is its ability to turn HLA services on and off. If you are not using DDM, for example, you can have the RTI turn that feature off to get a performance increase. 

Two things need to be noted when using this feature. First, even with all services turned on, the MÄK RTI is very fast. The test federate could still send over 120 thousand updates per second. That is much more than every simulator that we know of, so users really should not fear leaving all services on. Second, every service has its own overhead cost, as is shown in the following chart:

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Last fall, MÄK introduced our FOM Editor, a web-based application for creating and extending HLA FOMs. The original goal of the tool was to make it easier for people to quickly develop their own HLA Evolved FOM modules to extend widely used existing FOMs, such as the RPR FOM. Once we had a tool that supported HLA Evolved FOMs, however, it was simple to add support for HLA 1516-2000 as well. Both 1516-2000 and 1516-2010 (as HLA Evolved is more officially known) use XML formats and contain a lot of the same information. The formats are a bit different and 1516-2010 added some new things, but there is a lot of overlap.

Until recently we have not had any support for HLA 1.3, but we just upgraded the FOM Editor to import 1.3 OMT and FED files for conversion to HLA 1516 formats. To try it you will need a valid 1.3 OMT file at a minimum, but a FED file is also recommended for a full import. Just drag your OMT file onto the Project page, and once that’s complete, follow it up with your FED file.

Things are a bit different in 1.3 than in 1516. The most obvious difference is that rather than using a single type of file, a 1.3 FOM is defined by a combination of an OMT file and a FED file (neither of which is in XML). That’s a fairly minor difference from the point of view of the FOM Editor, but there are more important differences that don’t become apparent until you delve into the content of the files. Datatypes just aren’t the same in 1.3 as in 1516, and the FOM Editor has to make some assumptions and choices when converting a 1.3 file to a 1516 file. Below is a list of some of the most notable differences between 1.3 and 1516 FOMs, as well as a brief description of how the FOM Editor handles each case.

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VR-Vantage IG delivers game-like visual quality in a high-performance image generator "” designed with the flexibility, scalability, and deliverability required for simulation and training.

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With VR-Vantage IG, immerse your trainees in stunning virtual environments. Experience 60 Hz frame rates for smooth motion, engaging action to stimulate trainees, and beautiful effects for immersive realism; all this, inside world-wide geo-specific databases.

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Many IGs are targeted to one environment. IGs designed specifically to provide the correct cues to high-flying-fast-jets don’t do so well in first-person-shootouts. Truck driving simulators don’t generally render the water well enough for maritime operations. Part of this is due to the choices in the content and part is the tuning of the IG and the graphics processing unit (GPU).

We’ve designed VR-Vantage IG to render beautiful scenes in any domain "“ air, land, and sea "“ and to fit into your simulation architectures. Version 2.0 has concentrated on both beauty and performance so you can get the most out of the graphics card.

Graphics cards these days are awesome. They take a steady stream of data and turn it into beautiful pictures rendered at upwards of 60 times each second (60Hz). To pull it off, the GPU computes color values for each pixel on your display. A 1920x1200 desktop monitor has over 2 million pixels and at 60Hz, thats 120 million color values. A lot of processing goes into each pixel so that collectively they form a beautiful picture. AAA game development houses do the work to configure the graphics card for all their target platforms; you, as a system integrator, have to do the same thing for your training customer. 

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Let’s talk about MÄK RTI Throughput. (If you’re interested in the other MÄK RTI Benchmark posts, check out our previous blog on Latency benchmarking.)

Throughput is a measure of how fast an RTI can write to and read from the network. Because throughput tells you how well an RTI can handle federations with large numbers of objects that are frequently sending updates, it is often an even more important metric of RTI performance than latency. In many real-time platform-level simulations, updates or interactions that contain 100-150 bytes of data are fairly typical. For packets this size, we have demonstrated a throughput of over 170 thousand packets per second on our test system.

For larger packets, we do even better. In fact, for packets with 5000 bytes of payload data, we have achieved a throughput of over 22 thousand packets per second, around 90% of the theoretical maximum for a 1 gigabit network. In our original test system, we consistently topped out at 90% payload usage (not counting our minimal HLA overhead); we re-ran all our tests in a 10 gigabit network to get a better idea of what our limit is and we measured over 60 thousand messages over 5,000 bytes per second.

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Welcome to the first topic of our multi-post series highlighting specifics about the performance of the MÄK RTI! We’ll start with the topic of Latency, or the amount of time it takes for data to reach its destination. 

Much of the literature on distributed simulations indicates that latencies of up to 30-100 milliseconds are tolerable without losing the feeling of real-time interactivity. Even a 3D graphics-based application running at 60Hz has 16 milliseconds in which to compute and draw each frame, meaning that latencies of 5-10 milliseconds may not even effect the time at which a particular event is drawn. Meanwhile, typical latencies for the MÄK RTI are closer to 100 microseconds on our gigabit network "“ fast enough to meet the needs of even the most sensitive real-time simulations. 

Latency Benchmark Info

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VT MÄK is pleased to announce the release of VR-Vantage 2.0! This major release represents a huge leap forward in both the performance and visual quality of VR-Vantage IG - with upgrades to nearly every one of the product’s main components. VR-Vantage 2.0 includes a brand new shader infrastructure, dynamic lighting engine, real-time full-scene shadows, upgraded vegetation, environment, and dynamic ocean models, a robust CIGI implementation, and much more. With VR-Vantage 2.0, we’ve achieved our goal of delivering game-like visual quality in a high-performance, 60Hz immersive environment.

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Although there are many criteria for evaluating and comparing RTI implementations, one of the most important is performance. Choosing an RTI that maximizes throughput and minimizes latency, bandwidth, and CPU usage can mean the difference between success and failure for an HLA simulation program. 

Performance, however, is a difficult thing to quantify. There is not just one number that defines an RTI. There are many types of HLA exercises with wildly varying requirements. High performance on one exercise does not necessarily mean high performance on a different exercise. How many federates are you using? How many updates per second? Are you using a WAN configuration? Are you using any of the services such as DDM or time management? Are you using a Java or a C++ federate? Are you using HLA 1.3 or HLA Evolved? 

The answer to all of these questions can have significant effects on performance. In order to provide the flexibility that meets the needs of most users, an RTl’s configuration options must be robust. It should support the needs of most users out of the box. It must also provide the ability to reconfigure performance capabilities for the exceptional cases, if necessary.

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The release of VR-Forces 4.3 is finally here! Version 4.3 is a major feature release that adds many exciting features to MÄK’s leading CGF. Some of these new features include:

  • Awesome 3D graphics: VR-Forces leverages VR-Vantage 2.0 technology to provide cutting-edge and beautiful 3D scenes and content. With our new shader pipeline, advanced lighting and rendering techniques are used to provide rich immersive scenes comparable to leading game engines.
  • New and improved DI-Guy characters: Not only are significantly more characters available, but you can configure what hand-held object each holds. Characters not only look better, but move better too; characters have firm foot placement and more accurate motions.
  • Upgraded DIS support: VR-Forces now supports DIS 7, including updates to the DIS IFF standard.Improved Models: Naval guns can now correctly target moving objects. Aircraft, like the A-10, can have ballistic guns that can target ground entities, locations, and slow moving helicopters.
  • Scenario Events for Role Players: The new scenario event editor, sometimes called MSEL (Master Scenario Event List), allows events to be added to a scenario. Events can be text, video, or audio automatically presented to users at a certain time, or when specific criteria are encountered. This feature helps an instructor notify role players of key inflection points in an exercise.
  • More Geographic Scenario Support: While VR-Forces has always supported extremely large terrains, we have added support for local weather areas. Now users can specify a global weather condition, but also stipulate one or more local weather conditions for specific geographic areas. Further, VR-Forces includes a global ephemeris model for visual sensors. This means you can specify a time at (for example) GMT-2 on a geocentric terrain and the correct lighting conditions throughout the world will be used for visual sensors.
  • VR-Vantage and VR-Forces Front-End Observer Controls: You can now control all VR-Vantage based applications from inside a scenario (and in real-time from VR-Forces). That means that not only can you control the views of any VR-Forces Front-End, but also views from any other VR-Vantage based application. This feature allows users to encode camera cues in their scenarios to create real-time demos using VR-Forces.
  • Map Layer Control: If you are using OSG Earth (.earth) files to specify your terrain, you can now toggle individual raster map and feature layers on and off in runtime.Finally, VR-Forces 4.3 introduces a brand-new Aggregate-Level Simulation (constructive) model to better support Command Staff Training and high-level wargaming scenarios. Keep reading...
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We are pleased to announce the release of MÄK RTI 4.4, a major feature release that significantly improves performance, as well as adds several new features. 

While MÄK has always focused on performance with our RTI, over the last year we doubled our efforts. Version 4.4 is the second major release with significant improvements in performance. For this release, we have overhauled the message sending and receiving process to dramatically reduce the time to process incoming messages from the network while significantly lowering CPU processing time. Additionally, we have separated the sending and receiving of messages into separate threads so that performance will not be affected when either one of these is heavily taxed. To better understand what makes the MÄK RTI the fastest RTI on the market please read this.

We didn’t stop with performance: you can now use the MÄK RTI with FOM Modules in Lightweight Mode and international customers can now easily translate the text found in the RTI assistant to target the local language.

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A great visual scene is a key aspect of virtual training systems. They provide the geographic context for the simulation and immerse the trainees in a virtual world where they can play out their training objectives.

Virtual training systems come in many shapes and sizes depending on the tasks being trained and the fidelity requirements. This blog outlines several architectures for integrating the visual sub-system into the training system architecture. Keep reading...

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This blog focuses on the benefits of using highly accurate and immersive training environments "” a critical part of making any simulation a success.

At I/ITSEC 2014, we demonstrated our new VR-Vantage IG image generation capabilities by building five first-person player stations "“ each representing a different type of player. One of these stations was a Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) player where we collaborated with Simthetiq for the terrain database, CM Labs for the vehicle physics, and with MÄK’s own DI-Guy human Character simulation to populate the environment. 

Typically when building a competitive simulation solution, the biggest proportion of investment is on the hardware and software at the detriment of the visual database. Everyone agrees that the IG features and hardware performance are vital for any virtual training exercise "“ but all that action happens in the context of the virtual terrain. A poor visual database will make any investment much less effective. Simthetiq specializes in building cost-effective, immersive training environments that reach the new level of realism wanted by today`s demanding customers.

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VR-Link 5.1 has put a heavy emphasis on performance. The MÄK Engineers have gone through every bit of VR-Link to find hundreds of speed improvements in the already fast libraries. There comes a point, however, that most of your speed improvements are going to come with multi-threading.

VR-Link now includes multi-threading classes that allow you to update publish your DIS and HLA objects in parallel, greatly speeding up that side of the simulation. But don’t worry, we have abstracted out most of the complexity required to multi-thread, and your code does not have to increase in complexity at all.

The trick to this simplicity is that we have now created a DtPublisherContainer, a class that can tick all the publishers at the same time but can be used in a single threaded environment otherwise. For example, if your code before looked like this:

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We’ve been demonstrating our new VR-Vantage IG image generation capability by building five first-person player stations "“ each representing a different type of player. One of these stations was a Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) player where we collaborated with Simthetiq for the terrain database, with CM Labs for the vehicle physics, and with MAK’s own DI-Guy human character simulation to populate the environment. Watch the video below as Bob Holcomb explains (with the help of Gedalia as the driver) one of our most popular I/ITSEC 2014 demos.

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WebLVC is an architecture for developing and deploying interoperable web and mobile applications in simulation environments, and for connecting these applications with existing, native modeling and simulation federations (which may use HLA, DIS, or other native interoperability protocols). Watch Matt Figueroa, one of our highly esteemed Link team engineers here at MÄK, explain the basics about WebLVC and how you can use it to see and interact with your simulation over the web in the video below.

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Our goal is always to make it easier for our customers to create and use simulations. At both I/ITSEC 2013 and 2014, we showcased the MÄK Training System Demonstrator to show how to reduce operator workload and increase development productivity.

In the short demo below, Dan walks you through how the TSD uses the advantages of MÄK’s entire product line to create both a student and instructor maritime training environment. Watch as air, land, and sea entities start off behaving according to their plans; through our training interfaces, CGF, and web-apps, users can manipulate the simulation to achieve training in their techniques, tactics, and procedures.

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Enhanced Company Operations Simulation (ECOSim) is known for its ease-of-use, rapid scenario generation, runtime operator control, and realistic & reactive human simulation. The short video below explains how easy it is to set up a scenario with DI-Guy humans in ECOSim, MÄK’s company-level training simulation that teaches leaders how best to deploy troops, UAVs, convoys, and other assets. Watch how easy it is to place a hostile or friendly squads into the scenario and see how the civilians and townspeople react through the Small Unit Leader Interface (SULI) and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) feed.

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Whether you’re wargaming or managing a local crisis, simulation plays an important role in command staff training. Its job is to model the situation to provide learning opportunities for the trainees and to stimulate the command and control (C2), or Mission Command systems, they use. Simulation helps trainees and instructors plan the battle, fight the battle, and review the battle.

Brian Spaulding spent his days at I/ITSEC 2014 showing our visitors how MÄK tools are specialized for Command Staff Training. He explains how our most recent version of VR-Forces highlights aggregate-level simulation (with a new "thunder run" demonstration) and how our WebLVC-based web app helps decision-makers accomplish specific training objectives in a light-weight, interoperable way. Check out our demos with Brian below.

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At I/ITSEC 2014, I demonstrated another integration of VR-Vantage with the Oculus Rift. My demonstration has come a long way since the one I showed at I/ITSEC 2013. Most importantly it’s been updated to use the Development Kit 2 (DK2) Oculus Rift prototype and the latest OVR SDK. I also incorporated VR-Forces in order to turn it into an F-35 flight simulator which can be controlled via a gamepad. In this post I’ve included a complete description of how the demo was put together, a system diagram, and also a photo of the demo at our booth.

I also have some exciting news for VR-Vantage users; this isn’t something you’ll only see at trade shows - I’m currently working on integrating the Oculus with the core product and you’ll be able to use it with the upcoming VR-Vantage 2.0 release! (Stay tuned to this blog for more info!)

The Details about VR-Vantage and Oculus

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