TCB Publications - Abstract

John E. Stone, Peter Messmer, Robert Sisneros, and Klaus Schulten. High performance molecular visualization: In-situ and parallel rendering with EGL. 2016 IEEE International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium Workshop (IPDPSW), pp. 1014-1023, 2016. (PMC: PMC5061511)

STON2016B Large scale molecular dynamics simulations produce terabytes of data that is impractical to transfer to remote facilities. It is therefore necessary to perform visualization tasks in-situ as the data are generated, or by running interactive remote visualization sessions and batch analyses co-located with direct access to high performance storage systems. A significant challenge for deploying visualization software within clouds, clusters, and supercomputers involves the operating system software required to initialize and manage graphics acceleration hardware. Recently, it has become possible for applications to use the Embedded-system Graphics Library (EGL) to eliminate the requirement for windowing system software on compute nodes, thereby eliminating a significant obstacle to broader use of high performance visualization applications. We outline the potential benefits of this approach in the context of visualization applications used in the cloud, on commodity clusters, and supercomputers. We discuss the implementation of EGL support in VMD, a widely used molecular visualization application, and we outline benefits of the approach for molecular visualization tasks on petascale computers, clouds, and remote visualization servers. We then provide a brief evaluation of the use of EGL in VMD, with tests using developmental graphics drivers on conventional workstations and on Amazon EC2 G2 GPU-accelerated cloud instance types. We expect that the techniques described here will be of broad benefit to many other visualization applications.

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