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Sandia National Labs Visualises Some Of The World’s Largest Simulations Using NVIDIA® Technology

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Sandia National Labs Visualises Some Of The World’s Largest Simulations Using NVIDIA® Technology

National Laboratories Leverage NVIDIA Quadro® Graphics and ParaView Software to Render Extremely Large Datasets in Record Time

ALBUQUERQUE, NM, CLIFTON PARK, NY, and BANGALORE, INDIA - NOVEMBER 15, 2005 - Sandia National Labs, Kitware, Inc., and NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA) today announced a major advance in large-data scientific visualisation and rendering for simulations being run on Sandia’s new supercomputer, Red Storm. Sandia’s Red RoSE visualisation cluster is being used to render this data, allowing scientists to analyse real world problems with extraordinary precision and fidelity in fields such as national defence and security, aerospace and environmental research.

These results were achieved with ParaView (, an open source visualisation application, running on Red RoSE, one of the world’s most powerful visualisation clusters. Developed by Kitware, Inc. (, ParaView enables parallel graphics processing across a large number of NVIDIA Quadro cards in the Red RoSE visualisation cluster. This achievement stems directly from sustained efforts to deliver scalable visualisation technologies through strategic investments and developments by the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program and the ASC tri-labs, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

Visualisation is an integral component of ASC and is essential to understanding the massive data produced in simulations being run in the national labs. Such simulation results can be enormous (often terabytes in size) and can provide a unique challenge to the visualisation systems tasked with the processing of this data.

The “Red RoSE” cluster, which is part of the infrastructure deployed at Sandia in support of the Red Storm environment, includes 264 visualisation nodes (workstations), each comprised of the following:

  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 3400 PCI Express graphics boards
  • Workstations equipped with Dual 3.6 GHz Intel Xeon EM64T processors, and 4GB of RAM
  • InfiniBand 4x HCA interconnect, allowing the data to be processed across the 264 nodes

“The combination of ParaView and NVIDIA high-performance graphics hardware has greatly enhanced our scientific visualisation abilities for large data sets. We’re now able to load up, process, and visualise some of the world’s largest datasets at interactive rates,” said Brian Wylie, visualisation team leader, Sandia National Labs.

Caption: Asteroid Golevka measures about 500 x 600 x 700 meters. In this CTH shock physics simulation, a 10 Megaton explosion was initiated at the center of mass. The simulation ran for about 15 hours on 7200 nodes of Red Storm and provided approximately 0.65 second of simulated time. The resolution was 1 meter, with a 1 cubic kilometer mesh that contained 1.1 billion cells. The remarkable resolution of this simulation provides realism in crack formation and propagation not seen in lower-resolution models.

“NVIDIA Quadro commercial off-the-shelf solutions provide the graphics processing power in visualisation systems that have traditionally relied on costly proprietary supercomputers,” said Jeff Brown, general manager for NVIDIA professional products, “NVIDIA professional platforms allow our customers like Sandia to deploy solutions that are highly scalable and take advantage of the very latest advances in GPU technologies.”

ParaView performs various operations on the data including calculating derivative scalar fields, t-stripping, cutting, clipping, and glyphing at interactive rates. The aggregate parallel rendering performance is delivered via a high performance image delivery system to the user’s desktop. For typical simulation results, ParaView streams images from a cluster to a desktop at about 15 frames per second. This level of performance is enabled by the latest generation of NVIDIA Quadro graphics hardware, which provides fast PCI Express read-back rates. ParaView can deliver rendering performance of over 8 billion polygons per second through Sandia’s parallel rendering library (Ice-T) and Sandia’s image compression system (SQUIRT).

ParaView is built on top of the popular Visualisation Toolkit (VTK) and leverages cutting-edge parallel rendering algorithms and leading technology in commodity PC clusters and graphics hardware to interactively visualise some of the world's largest datasets. Contributors and developers currently include: Kitware, LANL, SNL, and the Army Research Laboratory. ParaView is funded by the US Department of Energy ASC program as part of a contract awarded to Kitware, Inc. by a consortium of the three ASC National Labs - LANL, SNL, and LLNL. The goal of the project is to develop scalable parallel processing tools with an emphasis on distributed memory implementations. The project includes parallel algorithms, infrastructure, I/O, support, and display devices. One significant feature of the contract is that all software developed is to be delivered open source. Hence ParaView is available as an open-source system.

About Sandia
Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

About Kitware
Kitware Inc. is a small business with expertise in imaging, 3D graphics, visualisation and object-oriented software design. Founded in 1998, Kitware has grown to include customers in over 43 countries. Kitware's primary customers include the oil & gas industry, medical imaging, government research, computer aided design & manufacturing, aerospace, and engineering. Kitware's mission is to provide state of the art visualisation, graphics, and image processing software solutions. This includes developing turn-key, end user applications; creating customised applications for clients; porting our open-source tools such as VTK, ITK, and CMake to custom hardware; supporting these open-source software tools with documentation and tools; providing professional consulting services.

NVIDIA Corporation is a worldwide leader in graphics and digital media processors. The Company’s products enhance the end-user experience on consumer and professional computing devices. NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs), media and communications processors (MCPs), and wireless media processors (WMPs) have broad market reach and are incorporated into a variety of platforms, including consumer and enterprise PCs, notebooks, workstations, PDAs, mobile phones, and video game consoles. NVIDIA is headquartered in Santa Clara, California and employs more than 2,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the Company’s Web site at

Certain statements in this press release including, but not limited to, statements as to our relationships with customers and partners in the film industry and the features, benefits, performance and capability of the NVIDIA Quadro FX are forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause results to be materially different than expectations. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, delays in ramping new products into production, adoption of other technologies or products by those in the film industry, manufacturing defects, incompatibility of technologies, reliance on third-party manufacturers, the impact of competitive products and pricing alternatives, n changes in the film industry standards, our dependence on third-party developers and other risks detailed from time to time in the NVIDIA reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission including its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended October 24, 2004. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. NVIDIA disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

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