New Algorithmic Techniques for Large Scale Volumetric Data Visualization on Parallel Architectures
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Volume visualization is widely used as an effective approach for the visual exploration, computational analysis, and manipulation of volumetric datasets. Due to the dramatic advances in imaging instruments and computing technologies, such datasets are now appearing at a very fast rate with increasingly larger sizes in many engineering, science and medical applications. Isosurface and direct volume rendering(DVR) are two of the most widely used techniques to render such datasets. This dissertation introduces novel techniques for rendering isosurfaces and volumes, and extends these techniques to multiprocessor architectures. We first focus on cluster-based techniques for isosurface extraction and rendering using polygonal approximation. We present a new simple indexing scheme and data layout approach, which enable scalable and efficient isosurface generation. This algorithm is the first known parallel algorithm to achieve provable load balancing on multiprocessor systems. We also develop an algorithm to generate isosurfaces using ray-casting on multi-core processors. Our method is based on a hybrid strategy that begins with an object order traversal of the data followed by ray-casting on ordered sets of an adaptive number of subcubes, one set for each small group of pixels on the image. We develop a multithreaded implementation, which uses new dynamic load balancing techniques that start with an image partitioning for the initial stage and then perform dynamic allocation of groups of ray-casting tasks among the different threads. The strategy ensures almost equal loads among the cores while maintaining spatial data locality. This scheme is extended to perform direct volume rendering and is shown to achieve similar improvements in terms of overall performance, load balancing, and scalability. We conduct a large number of tests for all our algorithms on the University of Maryland Visualization Cluster and on the 8-core Clovertown platform using a wide variety of datasets such as Richtmyer-Meshkov Instability dataset (7.5GB for each time step) and Visible Human dataset (~1GB). We obtain results that consistently validate the efficiency and the scalability of our algorithms. In particular, the overall performance of our hybrid ray-casting scheme achieves an interactive rendering rate on high resolution (1024x1024) screens for all the datasets tested.