Real-time visualization of large volume datasets on standard PC hardware

Kai Xie, Jie Yang, Y. M. Zhu
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Texas Medical Center, 77030 Houston, TX, USA
Comput. Methods Prog. Biomed., Vol. 90, No. 2. (2008), pp. 117-123.


   title={Real-time visualization of large volume datasets on standard PC hardware},

   author={Xie, K. and Yang, J. and Zhu, YM},

   journal={Computer methods and programs in biomedicine},








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In medical area, interactive three-dimensional volume visualization of large volume datasets is a challenging task. One of the major challenges in graphics processing unit (GPU)-based volume rendering algorithms is the limited size of texture memory imposed by current GPU architecture. We attempt to overcome this limitation by rendering only visible parts of large CT datasets. In this paper, we present an efficient, high-quality volume rendering algorithm using GPUs for rendering large CT datasets at interactive frame rates on standard PC hardware. We subdivide the volume dataset into uniform sized blocks and take advantage of combinations of early ray termination, empty-space skipping and visibility culling to accelerate the whole rendering process and render visible parts of volume data. We have implemented our volume rendering algorithm for a large volume data of 512x304x1878 dimensions (visible female), and achieved real-time performance (i.e., 3-4 frames per second) on a Pentium 4 2.4GHz PC equipped with NVIDIA Geforce 6600 graphics card (256MB video memory). This method can be used as a 3D visualization tool of large CT datasets for doctors or radiologists.
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