Ray-Casting Architetures for Volume Visualization

Ray-Casting Architetures for Volume Visualization

H. Ray, H. Pfister, D. Silver, and T.A. Cook.

(IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 1999.)

Real-time visualization of large volume datasets demands high performance computation, pushing the storage, processing, and data communication requirements to the limits of current technology. General purpose parallel processors have been used to visualize moderate size datasets at interactive frame rates; however, the cost and size of these supercomputers inhibits the widespread use for real-time visualization. This paper surveys several special purpose architectures that seek to render volumes at interactive rates. These specialized visualization accelerators have cost, performance, and size advantages over parallel processors. All architectures implement ray casting using parallel and pipelined hardware. We introduce a new metric that normalizes performance to compare these architectures. The architectures included in this survey are VOGUE, VIRIM, Array Based Ray Casting, EM-Cube, and VIZARD II. We also discuss future applications of special purpose accelerators.