SAIC taps Virtual Prototypes for PC-based tools

Science Applications International Corp. last week added another piece to its product suite for interactive visual simulation by signing an agreement with Virtual Prototypes Inc. to resell VPI's software for generating tactical scenarios for Defense-related projects.

Under the deal SAIC will bundle VPI's Stage as part of SAIC's SIMTools a set of tools that allow users to create high-resolution simulation programs on PCs rather than high-end workstations.

Stage which conforms with Defense Department standards for distributed simulation is what is known as an environment generator - a tool used to build a virtual landscape for staging simulated exercises.

SAIC has worked extensively with Stage in the past but always using expensive workstations from Silicon Graphics Inc. or other high-end vendors said Anthony Virgillio a vice president at SAIC McLean Va. As part of the partnership with VPI "we have ported that product over to the PC which provides for a wide distribution of that [capability] " Virgillio said.

SIMTools Suite

SAIC began putting together SIMTools early this year when it signed an agreement to resell high-end 3-D graphics boards for PCs developed by 3Dfx Mountain View Calif. The SIMTools suite in addition to Stage includes software for communications data scoring operator control and a standard user interface.

Users now can develop full-scale simulation programs on 166 MHz PCs with the full package costing as little as $20 000 - or about one-tenth the cost DOD is used to paying according to SAIC. The systems would include a PC with a graphics board and the SIMTools product suite. That will let Defense customers deploy these systems to users who otherwise would not have had access to simulation programs Virgillio said.

"Our objective is to get game playing down to the squadron and company level so they can get involved " he added.

Stage was designed to be a relatively low-cost simulation tool said Philippe Collard director of VPI's Simulation Business Unit.

Rather than build a specialized tool VPI wanted something open and reconfigurable so it could meet the needs of a wide range of users.

"Each [package] comes with a toolkit to allow developers to reconfigure the tool to meet the needs of a particular user " Collard said.

SAIC which said it already has a number of customers interested in purchasing SIMTools has applied to add the product suite to the General Services Administration schedule Virgillio said.


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