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We present a particle system for interactive visualization of steady 3D flow fields on uniform grids. For the amount of particles we target, particle integration needs to be accelerated and the transfer of these sets for rendering must be avoided. To fulfill these requirements, we exploit features of recent graphics accelerators to advect particles in the graphics processing unit (GPU), saving particle positions in graphics memory, and then sending these positions through the GPU again to obtain images in the frame buffer. This approach allows for interactive streaming and rendering of millions of particles and it enables virtual exploration of high resolution fields in a way similar to real-world experiments. The ability to display the dynamics of large particle sets using visualization options like shaded points or oriented texture splats provides an effective means for visual flow analysis that is far beyond existing solutions. For each particle, flow quantities like vorticity magnitude and A2 are computed and displayed. Built upon a previously published GPU implementation of a sorting network, visibility sorting of transparent particles is implemented. To provide additional visual cues, the GPU constructs and displays visualization geometry like particle lines and stream ribbons.
Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:11 , Issue: 6 )
Date of Publication: Nov.-Dec. 2005