Remote GPU-Accelerated Online Pre-processing of Raster Maps for Terrain Rendering

Rolf Westerteiger, Fang Chen, Andreas Gerndt, Bernd Hamann, Hans Hagen
German Aerospace Center, Lilienthalplatz 7, 38108 Braunschweig, Germany
Ninth Workshop on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality of the GI Expert’s Group (VRAR 2012), 2012


   title={Remote GPU-Accelerated Online Pre-processing of Raster Maps for Terrain Rendering},

   author={Westerteiger, R. and Chen, F. and Gerndt, A. and Hamann, B. and Hagen, H. and Davis, UC and Kaiserslautern, TU},



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We present a distributed architecture for accelerated pre-processing of remote sensing data for immediate terrain visualization. Interactive 3D visualization approaches for large terrain datasets employ level of detail techniques that require a multi-resolution data representation. The high computational cost of constructing these representations is often not viewed as a major drawback, as it is considered an off-line pre-processing step. This prevents the application of existing methods in the case of changing data, which is becoming increasingly important for a multitude of applications where datasets are being generated, transmitted and must be visualized immediately, such as in disaster management. Our system uses graphics processing units (GPUs) to accelerate the process of generating a multi-resolution representation, achieving sufficient performance to enable on-line visualization on a front-end workstation communicating with a back-end cluster of machines equipped with GPUs. As a reference data structure, we use a quad tree decomposition of the so-called HEALPix sphere parameterization, which is well-suited for spherical terrain rendering. Our system correctly handles overlapping and unregistered mixed-resolution datasets. We demonstrate the efficacy of our approach by applying it to the surface of Mars using both the NASA Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter and the ESA Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera datasets.
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