Adaptive Multiresolution Techniques for I/O, Data Layout, and Visualization of Massive Simulations

Will Usher

In PhD Dissertation, University of Utah, 2021
Fig. 1: An illustration of how this dissertation's contributions fit together in the broader scope of the end-to-end simulation visualization pipeline. The contributions discussed work together to support massive data sets across the simulation visualization pipeline.


The continuing growth in computational power available on high-performance computing systems has allowed for increasingly higher fidelity simulations. As these simulations grow in scale, the amount of data produced grows correspondingly, challenging existing strategies for I/O and visualization. Moreover, although prior work has sought to achieve high bandwidth I/O at scale or post hoc visualization of massive data sets, treating these two sides of the simulation visualization pipeline independently introduces a bottleneck between them, where data must be converted from the simulation output layout to the layout used for visualization.
The aim of this dissertation is to address key challenges across the simulation visualization pipeline to provide efficient end-to-end support for massive data sets. First, this dissertation proposes an I/O approach for particle data that rebalances the I/O workload on nonuniform distributions by constructing a spatial data structure, improving I/O performance and portability. To eliminate data layout bottlenecks between I/O and visualization, this dissertation proposes a layout for particle data that balances rendering and attribute-query access patterns through a spatial $k$-d tree and fixed size bitmap indices. The layout is constructed quickly when writing the data and requires little additional memory to store. This dissertation proposes a number of approaches to enable visualization of massive data sets at different scales. An asynchronous tile-based processing pipeline is proposed for distributed full-resolution rendering that overlaps compositing and rendering tasks to improve performance. Next, a virtual reality tool for neuron tracing in large connectomics data is proposed. The VR tool employs an intuitive painting metaphor and a real-time page-based data processing system to visualize large data without discomfort. To visualize massive data in compute and memory constrained environments, a GPU parallel isosurface extraction algorithm is proposed for block-compressed data sets. The algorithm is built on a GPU-driven memory management and caching strategy that allows working with compressed data sets entirely on the GPU. Finally, a simulation-oblivious approach to data transfer for loosely coupled in situ visualization is proposed that minimizes the impact of the visualization by offloading data restructuring from the simulation.


Paper (PDF)


title = {{Adaptive} {Multiresolution} {Techniques} for {I}/{O}, {Data} {Layout}, and {Visualization} of {Massive} {Simulations}},
type = {phdthesis},
author = {Usher, Will},
school = {University of Utah},
year = {2021}