Integration of voxel-based and polygonal rendering techniques leads to new classes of 3D visualisation applications

Cypress 25 July 20003Dlabs Inc. and Real Time Visualization (RTViz), a division of Mitsubishi Electric, have closed a technical and marketing partnership to tightly integrate the products of both companies. This collaboration allows a new class of advanced visualisation applications which require the seamless blending of polygonal graphics and voxel-based volumetric rendering.


Voxels, which are volume elements, represent the internal structure of objects acquired from real world sample data such as Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Ultrasound, sonic, radar, and other discrete acquisition methods. Polygons define surface characteristics and are represented as geometrical mesh triangles. Users have long desired the ability to render and visualise both primitives together in real time.

For example, doctors need to visualise the scalpel (polygons) inside the brain (voxels) and geologists need to visualise well-head data (polygons) inside the earth's fault subsurface strata (voxels) as they search for oil. The first fruits of this collaboration are optimised drivers from 3Dlabs for its Oxygen family of professional graphics accelerators. These allow the real time integrated display of OpenGL graphics and volumes rendered on RTViz VolumePro accelerators. The drivers are expected to ship from 3Dlabs in the third quarter of 2000.

Both companies are actively investigating longer-term board and silicon-level interoperability of their product lines. "The merging of polygonal and voxel techniques establishes the next significant advance in 3D graphics technology, enabling a wide range of advanced vertical applications on the PC", stated Jamie Jacobs, general manager of Real Time Visualization. "Its leadership in professional graphics and responsiveness to the requirements of integrated 3D graphics, makes 3Dlabs the natural partner for us. This new initiative will leverage the technical advantages of both companies."

"RTViz is the undisputed leader in hardware accelerated volume rendering with the innovative VolumePro architecture, and we are delighted to work closely with this highly regarded team", commented Neil Trevett, vice president of marketing, 3Dlabs. "We will be working hard to support the needs of RTViz and to enable end-users, integrators, and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to leverage the power of interactive, real time, seamlessly integrated voxel and polygonal rendering."

Real Time Visualization, a division of Mitsubishi Electric with headquarters in Concord, Massachusetts, has pioneered the commercialisation of real time 3D volume rendering PC hardware. Its first product, VolumePro, has been shipping to users since May 1999 and won numerous industry awards for product innovation for 3D graphics hardware development. RTViz sells to OEMs and systems integrators from industries which cover a broad range of vertical markets, including medical, geophysical, scientific, industrial, simulation, research and others.

Founded in 1994, 3Dlabs is a leading supplier of integrated hardware and software graphics accelerator solutions for workstations and design professionals. 3Dlabs develops silicon, boards and software drivers to create products which effectively meet the performance and quality needs of users who rely on graphics for their productivity.

3Dlabs sells its award-winning Oxygen and Wildcat products to leading system OEMs including Compaq, Dell, Fujitsu, Fujitsu-Siemens, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intergraph Computer Systems, Hitachi, NEC and Sun Microsystems, through an international distributor and reseller network and directly to end-users at 3Dlabs' on line store.

The performance-leading Wildcat and high volume Oxygen accelerator families target complementary segments of the Computer Aided Design (CAD), Digital Content Creation (DCC), geophysical, medical, and visual simulation markets, resulting in the broadest range of professional graphics products in the industry today. 3Dlabs has operations in Alabama, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Leslie Versweyveld

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