Hybrid Image Composition Mechanism for Enhancing Volume Graphics Clusters

Jorji NONAKA  Nobuyuki KUKIMOTO  Yasuo EBARA  Masato OGATA  Takeshi IWASHITA  Masanori KANAZAWA  Koji KOYAMADA  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E88-D    No.11    pp.2582-2590
Publication Date: 2005/11/01
Online ISSN: 
DOI: 10.1093/ietisy/e88-d.11.2582
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Computer Graphics
volume graphics cluster,  image composition,  parallel rendering,  large-scale data visualization,  high-resolution visualization,  

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Volume Graphics Clusters (VG Clusters) have proven to be efficient in a wide range of visualization applications and have also shown promise in some other applications where the image composition device could be fully utilized. The main differentiating feature from other graphics clusters is a specialized image composition device, commercially available as the MPC Image Compositor, which enables the building of do-it-yourself VG Clusters. Although this device is highly scalable, the unidirectional composition flow limits the data subdivision to the quantity of physically available rendering nodes. In addition, the limited buffer memory limits the maximum capable image composition size, therefore limiting its use in large-scale data visualization and high-resolution visualization. To overcome these limitations, we propose and evaluate an image composition mechanism in which additional hardware is used for assisting the image composition process. Because of the synergistic use of two distinct image composition hardware devices we named it "Hybrid Image Composition". Some encouraging results were obtained showing the effectiveness of this solution in improving the VG Cluster 's potential. A low-cost parallel port based hardware barrier is also presented as an efficient method for further enhancing this kind of small-scale VG Cluster. Moreover, this solution has proven to be especially useful in clusters built using low-speed networks, such as Fast Ethernet, which are still in common use.