Ultrascale Collaborative Visualization Using a Display-Rich Global Cyberinfrastructure
IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications
A s data that sensors and simulations collect exceeds a PC's or average computing cluster's capacity, scientists must rely on shared cyberinfrastructure (CI) for acquiring, analyzing, and visualizing that data. CIs are federally funded research environments that let scientists access remote sensor data, unique instruments, major data stores, and highperformance computing and networking resources shared cross-institutionally, nationally, and internationally. Such environments include TeraGrid,
... e BlueWaters Petascale Facility, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Large Hadron Collider, and global networks with funding from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) International Research Network Connections program. Ultrascale data in geoscience, atmospheric science, astrophysics, and bioscience is driving the growing use of high-resolution displays as visualization tools. Furthermore, scientific problems involving complex data and enormous scale often require remote, interdisciplinary collaboration. Remote team members need visualization tools that facilitate communication, collaboration, and discovery, whether the collabo-rators are in different cities or different countries. These trends motivated us to investigate a unified hardware and software environment to support display-rich global collaboration. In this environment, collaborators generate very-high-resolution visualizations on shared CI and distribute the results over high-speed networks to heterogeneous, high-resolution tiled displays at the collaborating end points. A tiled display is a large, high-resolution display system comprising an array of LCD panels that a computer cluster drives. Each computer typically drives one to four panels, on the basis of its graphics capability. In the SAGE (Scalable Adaptive Graphics Environment) model, tiled displays typically have high-speed (multigigabit) network connectivity to remote high-performance-computing resources. Multipoint high-definition (HD) videoconferencing capability on high-resolution tiled displays combines the end points into a virtual collaboratory. Figure 1 illustrates the shared CI architecture and a typical collaborating end point, a 20-megapixel, LCD-based tiled display. Over the past six years, the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has spearheaded construction of the OptIPlanet Collaboratory, a persistent display-rich CI for global-scale distributed visualization. This hardware environment connects more than 40 ultra-high-resolution tiled displays (some over 100 million pixels) via optical networks. We dubbed these networked tiled-displays OptIPortals because The Scalable Adaptive Graphics Environment (SAGE) is high-performance graphics middleware for ultrascale collaborative visualization using a display-rich global cyberinfrastructure. Dozens of sites worldwide use this cyberinfrastructure middleware, which connects high-performance-computing resources over high-speed networks to distributed ultraresolution displays.