Computer Graphics World

October-November-December 2021

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S P O T L I G H T 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 c g w 5 by providing a new level of cross-vendor API. It will enable users to get right to work on the description of a scene and not have to burn valuable time specifying rendering details. That provides visual- ization application portability. It allows the use of a wide range of backend rendering engines. Those rendering engines, built by various organizations, public and private, can continue to innovate their rendering technologies independently. The scientific visualization ecosystem has been around since the late 1970s and is diverse and worldwide. It includes visualization application vendors such as VMD, VTK/ParaView, and VisIt, and they have participated in ANARI's design. There are also early ANARI im- plementations in development by AMD, Intel, and Nvidia, to provide access to their Radeon ProRen- der, OSPRay, and VisRTX rendering engines, respec- tively. As is the man- date of Khronos, ANARI is plat- form-indepen- dent. It is based on C99/C++ and designed for rendering at any scale of available hardware. Direct coupling with applications enables asynchronous overlap of com- pute and rendering. And it allows large memory-resident volume and geometry datasets processed in situ. Run-time querying enables matchmaking of applications to suitable renderers. ANARI 1.0 has been released as a provisional specification to incorporate industry feedback before the specification gets finalized. Khronos welcomes comments and feedback from the data visual- ization community at the specification GitHub repository (https:// to ensure that ANARI integrates effectively with existing workflows. In addition to the specification, the ANARI Working Group has released a collection of open-source soware under the Apache 2.0 license to help developers and implementors become familiar with the API. Implementations will be able to become officially conformant when the final specification and conformance tests are released in 2022. The soware includes a simple ANARI implementation with CPU- based ray tracing and no external engine dependencies. There is also a library of small examples of ANARI applications, an early validation layer for debugging and tracing API calls. And there is a beta release of the ANARI conformance test suite. What do we think? The National Science Foundation report "Visualization in Scientific Computing" is generally credited with launching the field of scientific visualization in 1987. And 27 years ago, in 1994, Larry Rosenblum edit- ed a special issue of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications on Research Issues in Scientific Visu- alization, focusing on then-recent advances and emerging topics in visualization. In 1999, Bill Hibbard created his list of top 10 visualization problems. Several disciplines, such as transportation, have their own publications on visualization. There are dozens of applications because so many people have been working on scientific visualization for so long. But most of them, if not all, are little silos onto themselves and have little aware- ness or compatibility with the outside world. There's a faint line between scientific visualization and other visu- alizations like architectural and infrastructure interactive renderings. All CAD and PLM systems have extensive visualization capabilities, including global illumination ray tracing. One of the most successful tools for visualization has been Blender. Scientific visualization is generally associated with gigantic databases. It can only be run on a supercomputer, and that may be the differentiation between simu- lations and the more common visualizations run on workstations. Tom DeFanti, one of the authors of the NSF paper cited above, told me, "With scientific visualization, you don't know what you're going to see in advance, and what you do see doesn't usually look like reality. With architectural, engineering CAD, and infrastructure interactive renderings, you are not expecting surpris- es — although errors are instructive…." Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if ANARI will add value beyond its initial focus on scientific visualization for any devel- oper looking for a simpler, high-level API to render sophisticated imagery. Dr. Jon Peddie ( is a recognized author and pioneer in the graphics industry; president of Jon Peddie Research, a Tiburon-CA-based consultancy specializing in graphics and multimedia that also publishes JPR's "TechWatch"; and named one of the most influential analysts in the world. Image courtesy Khronos. ATOM PROTON. ELEMENTARY FRAGMENTATION, REDUC- ING PARITY AND DEVELOPMENT COSTS. Image courtesy University of Utah's Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute.

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