Researchers at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) has released for download a visualization framework called the Cross-Platform Cluster Graphics Library (CGLX) for high-performance hardware accelerated visualization on ultra-high-resolution display systems.
"There is no reason why you need to start from scratch every time you want to program an application for a visualization cluster," says CGLX developer and project scientist Kai-Uwe Doerr. "CGLX was developed to enable everybody to write real-time graphics applications for visualization clusters. The framework takes care of networking, event handling, access to hardware-accelerated rendering, and some other things. Users can focus on writing their applications as if they were writing them for a single desktop."
From a high-level view, CGLX creates a distributed, parallel graphics context and manages its state and events transparently -- letting users focus on content and context rather than how render nodes and displays are combined to show the final visual. CGLX enables OpenGL programs, developed for a single workstation, to be executed on a large-scale tiled visualization grid with minimal or no changes to the original code. The distributed nature of the framework supports and encourages the development of programs to generate visual analytics infrastructures, which enable researchers to collaboratively view, interrogate, correlate and manipulate data in real time with visual resolutions well beyond a single workstation.
Key features of the framework include:
- Cross-platform, hardware-accelerated rendering (UNIX and Mac OSX support).
- Synchronized, multilayer OpenGL context support.
- Distributed event management.
- Scalable multi-display support.
Applications using CGLX include a real-time viewer for gigapixel images and image collections, video playback, video streaming, and visualization of multi-dimensional models. The CGLX framework is already used by nearly all 90 megapixel-plus OptIPortals worldwide, and it is available for Linux (Fedora, RedHat, Suse), Rocks Cluster Systems (bundled in the hiperroll), and Mac OSX (leopard, tiger for ppc and Intel). CGLX is so flexible that it can even be scaled down to run on a commodity laptop. "With CGLX," explained Falko Kuester, "researchers can finally focus on solving demanding visualization and data analysis challenges on next-generation visual analytics cyberinfrastructure."
More than 800,000 frames from the Spitzer Space Telescope were stitched together to make this portrait of dust and stars radiating in the inner Milky Way. One application lets researchers display this and other large data sets locally while connecting to remote storage clusters. Kevin Ponto and So Yamaoka are developing visual analytics techniques to display gigapixel imagery at interactive (real-time) speeds on ultra-high resolution displays.