The Mesmerizing Displays of Las Vegas Sphere

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By Car Brand Experts


Sphere, an innovative form of entertainment in Las Vegas, is now part of the illustrious lineage of circular performance venues like the Roman Colosseum and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. It captivates crowds with breathtaking LED showcases that span almost 750,000 square feet both inside and outside the establishment.

Underneath the screens, about 150 NVIDIA RTX A6000 GPUs play a crucial role in producing striking visuals on expansive 16x16K displays within the Sphere’s interior and over 1.2 million customizable LED pucks on the exterior of the venue – known as the Exosphere, representing the largest LED screen globally.

Ensuring reliable network connectivity, NVIDIA BlueField DPUs and NVIDIA ConnectX-6 Dx NICs — supported by the NVIDIA DOCA Firefly Service and NVIDIA Rivermax software for media streaming — guarantee the seamless operation of all display panels as one harmonized canvas.

“Sphere is enchanting audiences not only in Las Vegas but also across the globe on social platforms, delivering immersive LED content at an unprecedented scale and clarity,” mentioned Alex Luthwaite, the senior vice president of show systems technology at Sphere Entertainment. “This remarkable feat wouldn’t have been achievable without the skill and innovation of companies like NVIDIA that are vital in powering our vision, collaborating closely with our team to redefine the possibilities with cutting-edge display technology.”

Recognized as TIME’s Top Inventions of 2023, Sphere features unique Sphere Experiences, live concerts by renowned artists, as well as exclusive marquee and corporate events.

The inauguration of Sphere featured a 40-show run by the rock band U2, culminating in March. Other highlights include The Sphere Experience showcasing Darren Aronofsky’s Postcard From Earth, offering a specially curated multisensory cinematic adventure manifesting the venue’s immersive technologies, such as high-definition visuals, advanced concert-grade audio, haptic seating, and environmental effects like wind and scents.

image depicting Earth from space displayed in Sphere
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“Postcard From Earth” offers a multisensory immersive experience. Image courtesy of Sphere Entertainment.

Beneath the Screens: Visual Technology Empowering the Sphere

Sphere Studios generates video content at its Burbank, Calif., site, transferring it digitally to Sphere in Las Vegas. The content is then streamed live to rack-mounted workstations equipped with NVIDIA RTX A6000 GPUs, achieving exceptional performance capable of delivering three layers of 16K resolution at 60 frames per second.

The NVIDIA Rivermax software aids in accelerating media streaming, facilitating direct data transfers to and from the GPU. Collectively, the software and hardware acceleration eradicate interruptions and optimize latency.

NVIDIA BlueField DPUs also enable precise timing using the DOCA Firefly Service, ensuring clock synchronization in a network with sub-microsecond precision.

“The amalgamation of NVIDIA RTX GPUs, BlueField DPUs, and Rivermax software forms a potent trio of advantages for contemporary accelerated computing, supporting the unique high-resolution video streams and stringent timing requisites essential at Sphere, setting a new benchmark for media processing capabilities,” remarked Nir Nitzani, the senior product director for networking software at NVIDIA. “This partnership results in remarkable performance enhancements, culminating in the extraordinary encounters guests indulge in at Sphere.” 

A Comprehensive Approach: From Simulation to the Sphere Stage

To craft new immersive content exclusively for Sphere, Sphere Entertainment launched Sphere Studios, dedicated to crafting the future wave of original immersive entertainment. The Burbank complex comprises multiple development facilities, including a scaled-down rendition of the Sphere screen in Las Vegas, known as Big Dome, functioning as a specialized screening, production space, and content laboratory.

dome-shaped edifice flanked by palm trees
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The Big Dome stands at 100 feet tall, covering 28,000 square feet. Image courtesy of Sphere Entertainment.

Sphere Studios also devised the Big Sky camera system, capturing uncompressed, 18K images from a single camera, facilitating the studio to film content for Sphere without the necessity to integrate multiple camera feeds. The studio’s custom image processing software runs on Lenovo servers powered by NVIDIA A40 GPUs.

The A40 GPUs also drive creative endeavors, including 3D video, virtualization, and ray tracing. To devise visuals for diverse shows, the team collaborates with platforms like Unreal Engine, Unity, Touch Designer, and Notch.

For further exploration, check out forthcoming sessions in NVIDIA’s room at SIGGRAPH and view the panel discussion “Immersion in Sphere: Redefining Live Entertainment Experiences” on NVIDIA On-Demand.

All images courtesy of Sphere Entertainment.

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