Deploy Anywhere, Anytime, Any-scale Visualization with Intel® Select Solutions

The HPC community is exploring new frameworks and approaches to converge simulation and machine learning workloads at massive-scale. At the same time, it is critical to help researchers make sense of increasingly large data sets and complex results. Sadly, the fastest supercomputer in the world is effectively useless if people cannot make sense of the data. As I like to say, “A picture is worth an Exabyte.”

Visualization of HPC results enhances understanding and better supports inquiry when compared to text-based data tables. People often think that they need to rely on expensive, fixed-function hardware for visualization. Alternatively, Software Defined Visualization (SDVis) gives you the ability to render photorealistic graphics within the existing cluster and without additional hardware, and deliver the results to whatever end-user device is needed.

Unfettering users from expensive hardware accelerated rendering devices, bring interactive, OpenGL* and ray-traced rendering to HPC with SDVis for easy, optimized infrastructure deployment. Once rendered, the data can be visualized on any device, be it local or remotely located. It does not matter if the device has a simple framebuffer or more sophisticated graphics processing—interactive high-resolution ray-traced and OpenGL images can be visualized and analyzed anywhere, anytime, and on any device, from a low-power mobile phone or tablet to an institutional display wall. This lets you decide when, where, and how users can visualize their data, unconstrained by the limits of an expensive dedicated hardware rendering investment.

About Intel® Select Solutions

Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization bring the right hardware and software to your organization through verified solutions that combine Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors with other technologies such as Intel® Omni-Path Architecture, Intel® SSDs, and the OpenHPC cluster software stack.  Customers get the benefit of Intel’s latest compute, fabric, memory, storage, and software technologies without the need to perform lengthy research to determine the right hardware for visualization. Instead, they are able to rely on solutions that are already optimized for professional visualization.

Key benefits of investing in an Intel® Select Solution include:

  • Simplified evaluation. New workload integration and the transition to software-defined infrastructure are two areas where IT managers spend more and more time and money sorting through endless options and searching for optimal solutions. Intel® Select Solutions are tightly specified in terms of hardware and software components to eliminate guesswork and speed decision-making.
  • Fast and easy deployment. With pre-defined settings and rigorous system-wide tuning, Intel® Select Solutions are designed to increase efficiency in the testing process, speed time to service delivery, and increase confidence in solution performance.
  • Workload-optimized performance. Intel® Select Solution configurations are designed by Intel and our partners to deliver to a performance threshold for the workload, and are built on the latest Intel architecture foundation including the latest Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. In the case of Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization, Intel used seven visualization and standard HPC benchmarks to optimize peformance.

A Game-changing Idea: Render in Software, Visualize everywhere

The idea behind SDVis is that larger data sets imply higher resolution volume data and higher complexity results with massive numbers of 3D objects in output data (and therefore higher potential visual quality) that is too big for a traditional move-to-a-separate-visualization-cluster workflow.

Losing the traditional idea that one must have specialized hardware to render data has redefined HPC visualization. The resulting software-only technology in the Intel® Select Solution for Professional Visualization is convenient, elegant, extensible, and cost-effective.

The goal then becomes how to best use your money to maximize HPC compute. Rather than investing and maintaining specialized visualization hardware and infrastructure, it’s far more cost-effective to simply render the data on the same compute nodes being used by the HPC application, all within an architecture with which you are already familiar.

Intel® Select Solutions instantiates this goal to make the best use of your time and money through the full hardware and software lifecycle from procurement to deployment including cluster provisioning and operational support. For example, Intel® Select Solution systems includes the Intel® Cluster Checker, which provides expert systems advice for administrators to use in keeping your cluster functioning.

SDVis Represents the Ultimate in HPC Performance and Scalability

Once deployed, users get access to all the SDVis benefits, from OpenGL and photorealistic rendering to in-situ visualization.

Running in software means all your HPC hardware can be used for both rendering and computing. No network, runtime, or storage resources are wasted transferring data to a dedicated hardware visualization platform. Further, all your HPC workloads are free to directly call the open-source high-performance parallel software rendering libraries like OpenSWR*, Embree*, and OSPRay* to perform in-situ visualization where the data is rendered on the same compute nodes that run the simulation.

Based on Kitware’s experience with SDVIs, David DeMarle visualization luminary and lead Visual ToolKit (VTK) engineer at Kitware states, “We are entering the era, based on the data size, where the scalability and constant runtime of Software Defined Visualization wins over GPUs for visualization.”

Modernize Visualization with Intel® Select Solutions

Intel® Select Solution gives users the ability to render images with SDVis and even explore the dramatic impact photo realistic ray-traced images can have on their research without having to leave the convenience of a familiar and well established visualization and analysis tool like ParaView*. It’s a convenient way for many legacy OpenGL-based projects to explore the benefits and impacts of 21st century photorealistic imagery.

For example, users can switch between triangle-based rasterization and ray-traced images simply by switching from the ParaView OpenGL to the ParaView OSPRay path tracer. The impact on visual quality can be seen in the following comparative image and illustrates how SDVis can make the nuances of complex data intelligible to the human eye.

The impact on visual quality can be seen in the following comparative image and illustrates how SDVis can make the nuances of complex data intelligible to the human eye.
Figure 1: Comparative images showing image quality and detail using the ParaView OpenGL and Path tracer rendererer. Simply by switching from the ParaView OpenGL to the ParaView OSPRay SDVis path tracer, users are able to see more of the information in their data. (Images courtesy Kitware)

We also use a small local eight node CPU Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor cluster to demonstrate the speed of the Intel Select workload optimized software as it renders such highly-detailed photorealistic ray-traced images at interactive frame rates. These same demonstrations also show that those images can be interactively viewed on a basic laptop—even when the laptop used for visualization is geographically distant from the HPC center where the rendering occurs.

How to Deploy

Intel® Select Solution instantiates the game changing idea behind SDVis while making it simple to evaluate and fast to deploy. Users will appreciate the speed of the Intel® Select Solution workload-optimized visualization performance plus the ability to run on the latest in Intel’s compute, fabric, memory, storage, and software technologies.

Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization will be available from partners, such as Atipa, Dalco, E4 Computing, Megware, and RSC later this year. Leading software vendors, such as Altair, Autodesk, Eastern Graphics, Kitware, SURVICE Engineering Company, and the University of Stuttgart, also have committed to support these solutions.

Visit to learn more, and ask your infrastructure vendor, system integrator, or solution provider for Intel® Select Solutions. Intel® Select Solutions are supported and can be ordered through Intel® Builders Partners: Follow us on Twitter: #IntelBuilders

To learn more, visit:

Visit to learn more, and ask your infrastructure vendor, system integrator or solution provider for Intel Select Solutions. Intel Select Solutions are supported and can be ordered through Intel® Builders Partners

HPC Community Perspectives

We're excited to share the perspectives of a few of our industry partners and end users who have been able to go hands-on with these new solutions.

“Software Defined Visualization is one of the key enabling technologies we built Stampede* 2 around. It enables our large base of engineering and scientific users the ability to seamlessly do visual analysis of massive data sets not suitable for GPU based solutions. TACC applauds the release of Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization that enable the wide availability of high fidelity, interactive visualization for many more users.”

Dan Stanzione, Executive Director, Texas Advanced Computing Center

“Our joint work as an Intel® Parallel Computing Center for Visualization has achieved our goals of making very large scale visualization without past limitations, and in particular, ‘In Situ’ visualization a reality, not only for Stampede 2 users, but across the HPC landscape.  Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization are a major step to making this impactful technology widely available to accelerate scientific discovery and engineering breakthroughs.”

Paul Navratil, Director, Visualization, Texas Advanced Computing Center

“At the Stephen Hawking Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, we are pleased to have been on the forefront of utilizing the capabilities for large scale data visualization provided by Intel’s support and development of software defined visualization. The impressive visual fidelity of the OSPRay ray tracing library has enabled us to more deeply understand the makings of the early universe and the formation of gravitational waves when black holes collide. We congratulate Intel on its launch of the Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization that can bring software defined visualization, including ‘in situ’ visualization to more scientists and researchers.”

Paul Shellard, Director, Stephen Hawking Centre for Theoretical Cosmology

“SURVICE has worked closely with Intel to contribute to and utilize software defined visualization capabilities for commercial and government applications that would not have otherwise been possible.  Our high-performance open source codes such as StingRay*, RckT*, and PowerCT* are based on OSPRay and Embree Ray tracing capabilities and are thus an ideal fit for deployment on Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization.  We plan to utilize this solution with several of our Department of Defense clients in the near future.”

Mark Butkiewicz, General Manager, Applied Technology Operation, SURVICE Engineering

“We are excited to be part of the launch of Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization.  This platform design brings together a great toolset for our engineering customers to design and optimize high performance, efficient, and innovative products by using Altair’s Hyperworks* and PBS Works* simulation platforms.”

Pisuh Patel, VP Corporate Development for HPC and Cloud, Altair

“We are excited to be part of the launch of Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization. This platform design brings together the key components needed for running molecular dynamics simulations from our partners in concert with the OSPRay-enabled visualizations in MegaMol*. We are keen on showcasing our long-standing cooperation with the ls1 team, so keep an eye on our project page.”

Guido Reina, Lecturer and Researcher, University of Stuttgart

“At TOTAL, we deal with very large scale simulations (e.g., seismic imaging, reservoir simulation, digital rock physics analysis). These simulations generate a very high volume of data, bringing issues and challenges to solve and visualize efficiently. We have found that ray-tracing is an important approach for improved volumetric rendering enabling better insight and ensuring quality control.  Using Software Defined Visualization (SDVis) libraries OSPRay and OpenSWR integrated into key software suites like Kitware’s ParaView, we get the benefits of: an OpenSource solution; high fidelity visualizations; large scale, in-memory rendering; and easy integration into Vis Walls. Bringing this capability into a turnkey hardware and software package in the Intel Select Solutions for Professional Visualization gives TOTAL the opportunity to improve the analysis of simulation results more easily.  We fully support this Intel initiative.”

Bruno Conche, PITCSE R&D Visualization Project Leader, TOTAL

“BP HPC has demonstrated the practicality of performing seismic volume visualization in our visualization applications using Intel’s OSPRay ray tracing engine running on CPUs. We have found this to be a more cost-effective solution than using GPUs for large datasets. Our experiences to date have proved both an improved efficiency and superior results compared to traditional GPU-based rendering solutions. We are pleased to see Intel make it easier for HPC users to access high fidelity and large scale visualization through its Intel® Select Solution for Professional Visualization.”

Jim Lin, Computational Science Manager, HPC Team, BP North America, Inc. 

“We are excited to be part of the launch of Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization.  This platform design brings together all the key components needed for our automotive design customers to maximize their efficiency using VRED’s scalable, photorealistic design toolset.”

Detlev Reicheneder, Director of Global Business Development, Autodesk

“Kitware has been a close partner and supporter of Intel’s Software Defined Visualization initiative for over three years.  We are thrilled that the Intel® Select Solution for Professional Visualization will include our latest release, ParaView v5.5.2.  Our continued collaboration to integrate the growing features and capabilities of Mesa with OpenSWR and the OSPRay ray tracing engine now includes a full Path Tracer with an extensive materials capability that adds photorealistic rendering to ParaView.  We are excited to join the impressive list of partners enabling this solution to bring advanced visualization in an easy-to-use form.”

Berk Geveci, Senior Director of Scientific Computing, Kitware, Inc.

“At EasternGraphics, we have integrated Intel’s OSPRay ray tracing engine into our interior design application pCon.planner. The high-performance, photorealistic path tracer enables our users to create fast, high-quality renderings adding additional value for pCon.planner users worldwide – whether they are using laptops or having access to high-performance server clusters. We are excited to be part of the launch of the Intel Select Solutions for Professional Visualization and are looking forward to what is to come.”

Frank Wicht, CEO, EasternGraphics


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Jim Jeffers

About Jim Jeffers

Jim Jeffers, Sr. Principal Engineer and Sr. Director of Intel’s Advanced Rendering and Visualization team, leads the design and development of the open source rendering library family known as the Intel® Rendering Framework. Intel RF is used for generating animated movies, special effects, automobile design and scientific visualization. Jim joined Intel in 2008 participating in the development of manycore parallel computing and the Intel® Xeon Phi™ product family, including co-authoring 4 books on manycore parallel programming. Jim's experience includes software design and technical leadership in high performance computing, graphics, digital television, and data communications. Jim's notable work prior to Intel includes development for the Tech Emmy winning virtual 'First Down Line' technology seen on live American football TV broadcasts.