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We present a unified infrastructure for parallel out-of-core isosurface extraction and volume rendering of large unstructured grids on distributed-memory parallel machines. We parallelize the out-of-core isosurface extraction algorithm of Chiang et al. (1998) and the out-of-core ZSweep technique (Farias and Silva, 2001) for direct volume rendering, using the meta-cell technique as a unified underlying building block. Our one-time preprocessing first partitions the dataset into meta-cells that are stored in disk. From the meta-cells, we build a BBIO tree in disk, which can be used to speed up isosurface extraction, and a bounding-box file in disk, which is used for direct volume rendering. At run-time, we use a simple self-scheduling scheme to achieve load balancing among the processors. We perform several experiments on a sixteen-node cluster of PCs connected by a gigabit Ethernet, using datasets as large as 6.6 million cells. For the larger datasets, we have found that both our isosurface extraction and direct volume rendering approaches are perfectly scalable up to sixteen nodes.
Date of Conference: 23-23 Oct. 2001