Hardware-assisted visibility sorting for unstructured volume rendering

Steven P. Callahan, Milan Ikits, João L D Comba, Cláudió T. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Harvesting the power of modern graphics hardware to solve the complex problem of real-time rendering of large unstructured meshes is a major research goal in the volume visualization community. While, for regular grids, texture-based techniques are well-suited for current GPUs, the steps necessary for rendering unstructured meshes are not so easily mapped to current hardware. We propose a novel volume rendering technique that simplifies the CPU-based processing and shifts much of the sorting burden to the GPU, where it can be performed more efficiently. Our hardware-assisted visibility sorting algorithm is a hybrid technique that operates in both object-space and Image-space. In object-space, the algorithm performs a partial sort of the 3D primitives In preparation for rasterization. The goal of the partial sort is to create a list of primitives that generate fragments in nearly sorted order. In image-space, the fragment stream is incrementally sorted using a fixed-depth sorting network. In our algorithm, the object-space work is performed by the CPU and the fragment-level sorting is done completely on the CPU. A prototype implementation of the algorithm demonstrates that the fragment-level sorting achieves rendering rates of between one and six million tetrahedral cells per second on an ATI Radeon 9800.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-295
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2005

Keywords

  • Graphics processors
  • Visibility sorting
  • Volume visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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