November 10, 2006
Adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) is a powerful technique for simulating phenomena -- from the development of hurricanes to the formation of galaxies to the 3D mixing of fluids -- at an incredibly wide range of temporal and spatial scales while maximizing computational efficiency. Visualizing this wide-ranging data is usually a challenge, but the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed innovative software -- named Amore -- that substantially improves the rendering of AMR data. Visualizations of AMR data from detailed cosmological simulations were produced using this new software and will be shown in NCSA's booth (#1935) at SC06.
Amore, developed by NCSA visualization programmer Matthew Hall, renders both particles and volumes at the high quality required for outreach venues such as planetarium domes and high-definition television programs. While there are other unigrid renders that can handle particle and volume, Amore can handle the far more challenging AMR data.
Another advantage of Amore is that it runs on high-performance computational resources, like NCSA's SGI Prism visualization cluster. Previously, NCSA had leveraged Pixar's RenderMan software for AMR visualization, but unlike those approaches, Amore is compatible with HPC systems, enabling the NCSA visualization team to tap into the center's vast computational power.
As Hall was developing the Amore code, he was assisted by Lorne Leonard, who carried out testing and debugging as he used the new software to visualize AMR data from a cosmological simulation conducted by Brian O'Shea (Theoretical Astrophysics Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory) and Michael Norman (University of California, San Diego). The simulation follows the evolution of a region of the universe 250 million light years on a side, starting from only 16 million years after the Big Bang and ending at the present day, 13.7 billion years later.
Using Amore, NCSA produced data-driven visualizations of the evolution of the universe for the high-definition NOVA program "Monster of the Milky Way," which debuted in October 2006. Because Amore renders both particle and volume data, the NCSA animations show the interaction between the stars and the gas, including the formation of galactic disks, which is a key feature of this Enzo simulation.
Development of Amore has been supported by funding from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research through the Technology Research, Education, and Commercialization Center at NCSA.
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