Fast Isosurface Rendering on a GPU by Cell Rasterization

B. Liu, G. J. Clapworthy, F. Dong
Department of Computing and Information Systems, University of Bedfordshire, UK
Computer Graphics Forum, Vol. 28, No. 8., pp. 2151-2164


   title={Fast Isosurface Rendering on a GPU by Cell Rasterization},

   author={Liu, B. and Clapworthy, GJ and Dong, F.},

   booktitle={Computer Graphics Forum},






   organization={Wiley Online Library}


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This paper presents a fast, high-quality, GPU-based isosurface rendering pipeline for implicit surfaces defined by a regular volumetric grid. GPUs are designed primarily for use with polygonal primitives, rather than volume primitives, but here we directly treat each volume cell as a single rendering primitive by designing a vertex program and fragment program on a commodity GPU. Compared with previous raycasting methods, ours has a more effective memory footprint (cache locality) and better coherence between multiple parallel SIMD processors. Furthermore, we extend and speed up our approach by introducing a new view-dependent sorting algorithm to take advantage of the early-z-culling feature of the GPU to gain significant performance speed-up. As another advantage, this sorting algorithm makes multiple transparent isosurfaces rendering available almost for free. Finally, we demonstrate the effectiveness and quality of our techniques in several real-time rendering scenarios and include analysis and comparisons with previous work.
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