Computer Graphics World

October-November-December 2021

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4 cgw o c t o b e r • n o v e m b e r • d e c e m b e r 2 0 2 1 S P O T L I G H T H ow do you know if an airplane will fly, a nuclear boom will explode, or what Jupiter is made of? The answer: You take a bazillion tons of data (that's how we measure data in to- day's zettascale of data creation) and create a simulation with it, which, in turn, generates a visualization of it. Weather and climate change forecasting, subatomic structure actions and reactions, genomics and protein folding, geophysics and oil reserve investigation, emerging artificial intelligence applications, and other significant esoteric and complicated grand problems need visualizations. We must see it to understand it. See its dynamic actions and re- actions to predict future behavior. And creating such visualizations is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. No single organization, no company, university, or government can do it all alone. Therefore, the development efforts by researchers, data scientists, programmers, and mathematicians need a mechanism to coordinate their efforts and leverage one another's work. The barriers to such collaboration and communication have been secrecy, proprietary and competitive developments, and a lack of a common communications platform. That's all behind us now as the major forces in visualization hardware and soware have come to a common understanding. Khronos, the industry's broker and trustee for collaboration between competitors, has announced the release of the ANARI 1.0 provisional open-standard API for scalable 3D data visualization. (Analytic Ren- dering Interface — the name comes from the primary initial use case being data visualization.) This is a really big deal, a major breakthrough. Khronos' ANARI will allow users to quickly and easily build a scene description and generate an image from it. Under the covers, the scene description gets converted into USD, providing a pathway to metaverses like Nvidia's Omniverse. ANARI will enable users to quickly and easily build a scene description and create an image from it. ANARI doesn't specify the rendering details; the rendering gets le to the backend engine. It will provide a simplified way to develop a vis application with cross-ven- dor portability. And it will allow the use of diverse rendering engines, including those employing ray tracing. Big 3D visualizations run on supercomputers that are solving super-big problems. 3D visualizations help scientific and engineering researchers, economists, and sociologists understand the relations of complex situations and gain insights from large quantities of complex data. ANARI will offer a high-level API to build scene descriptions. No rendering details are required because it is not a scene graph. No application-specific structures, traversals, and metadata are need- ed. Unidirectional data flows from the app to ANARI. And the same scene description can be used to drive any backend rendering code portability. Low-level explicit control of GPU rendering and compute can be complex to program. ANARI will get used to implementing back- end rendering engines. In fact, it can accelerate a wide diversity of rendering techniques. Before ANARI, visualization engines, libraries, and applications used proprietary APIs to access rendering engines from multiple vendors. ANARI will save significant development time and costs 3D DATA VISUALIZATION GETS COMMUNITIVE DISPARATE SYSTEMS NOW HAVE A STANDARD INTERFACE BY JON PEDDIE Image courtesy NASA Earth. THE ANARI STACK. Image courtesy Khronos. Image courtesy Khronos.

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