- 1 External documentation for popular visualization packages
- 2 Visualization on new Compute Canada systems
- 2.1 Client-server visualization on Cedar and Graham
- 2.2 Client-server visualization in a cloud VM
- 3 Upcoming visualization events
- 4 Compute Canada visualization presentation materials
- 5 Tips and tricks
- 6 Regional visualization pages
- 7 Visualization gallery
- 8 How to get visualization help
External documentation for popular visualization packages
ParaView is a general-purpose 3D scientific visualization tool. It is open source and compiles on all popular platforms (Linux, Windows, Mac), understands a large number of input file formats, provides multiple rendering modes, supports Python scripting, and can scale up to tens of thousands of processors for rendering of very large datasets.
Similar to ParaView, VisIt is an open-source, general-purpose 3D scientific data analysis and visualization tool that scales from interactive analysis on laptops to very large HPC projects on tens of thousands of processors.
VMD is an open-source molecular visualization program for displaying, animating, and analyzing large biomolecular systems in 3D. It supports scripting in Tcl and Python and runs on a variety of platforms (MacOS X, Linux, Windows). It reads many molecular data formats using an extensible plugin system and supports a number of different molecular representations.
The Visualization Toolkit (VTK) is an open-source package for 3D computer graphics, image processing, and visualization. The toolkit includes a C++ class library as well as several interfaces for interpreted languages such as Tcl/Tk, Java, and Python. VTK was the basis for many excellent visualization packages including ParaView and VisIt.
Visualization on new Compute Canada systems
Client-server visualization on Cedar and Graham
Currently, we are working to bring GPU rendering to Cedar (SFU) and Graham (Waterloo). In the meantime, you can do client-server ParaView rendering on cluster CPUs. To get started, install ParaView 5.3.x (where "x" could be anything) on your laptop as you need the same version as on the cluster. Log in to Cedar or Graham and start a serial non-GPU interactive job:
salloc --time=1:00:0 --ntasks=1 --account=xwp-462-aa
The job should automatically start on one of CPU interactive nodes. Once you get an interactive prompt (that is part of your job), load the offscreen ParaView module and start the server:
module load paraview-offscreen/5.3.0 pvserver --mesa-swr-avx2
The flag "--mesa-swr-avx2" is important for much faster software rendering with OpenSWR library. Wait for the server to be ready to accept client connection:
Connection URL: cs://cdr774.int.cedar.computecanada.ca:11111 Accepting connection(s): cdr774.int.cedar.computecanada.ca:11111
Take a note of the node (in this case cdr774) and the port (usually 11111) and then in another terminal on your laptop (on Mac/Linux; in Windows use a terminal emulator) link the port 11111 on your laptop and the same port on the compute node (make sure to use the correct compute node):
ssh cedar.computecanada.ca -L 11111:cdr774:11111
Start ParaView on your laptop, go to File -> Connect (or click on the green Connect button in the toolbar) and then click Add Server. You'll need to point ParaView to your local port 11111, so you can do something like name = cedar, server type = Client/Server, host = localhost, port = 11111, then click Configure, then select Manual and click Save. Once the remote is added to the configuration, simply select the server from the list and click Connect. The first terminal window that was saying "Accepting connection ..." will now say "Client connected" and possibly "SWR detected AVX2" (or it may confirm AVX2 support when you start rendering).
Then open a file in ParaView (it'll point you to the remote filesystem) and visualize it as usual. An important setting in ParaView's preferences is Render View -> Remote/Parallel Rendering Options -> Remote Render Threshold. If you set it to default (20MB) or similar, small rendering will be done on your laptop's GPU, the rotation with a mouse will be fast, but anything modestly intensive (under 20MB) will be shipped to your laptop and -- depending on your connection -- visualization might be slow. If you set it to 0MB, all rendering will be remote including rotation, so you'll be really using the cluster's CPU for everything, good for large data processing but not so good for interactivity. You'll need to play with this setting to see what works best for you.
If you want to do parallel rendering on multiple CPUs, start a parallel job (don't forget to specify the correct maximum walltime limit):
salloc --time=0:30:0 --ntasks=8 --account=xwp-462-aa
and then start ParaView server with "srun":
module load paraview-offscreen/5.3.0 srun pvserver --mesa
The flag "--mesa-swr-avx2" does not seem to have any effect when in parallel so we replaced it with the more generic "--mesa" to (hopefully) enable automatic detection of the best software rendering option.
To check that you are doing parallel rendering, you can pass your visualization through the Process Id Scalars filter and then colour it by "process id".
Client-server visualization in a cloud VM
You can launch a new cloud virtual machine (VM) as described in the Cloud Quick Start Guide. Once you log into the VM, you'll need to install some additional packages to be able to compile ParaView or VisIt. For example, on a CentOS VM you can type:
sudo yum install xauth wget gcc gcc-c++ ncurses-devel python-devel libxcb-devel sudo yum install patch imake libxml2-python mesa-libGL mesa-libGL-devel sudo yum install mesa-libGLU mesa-libGLU-devel bzip2 bzip2-libs libXt-devel zlib-devel flex byacc sudo ln -s /usr/include/GL/glx.h /usr/local/include/GL/glx.h
If you have your own private-public SSH key pair (as opposed to the cloud key), you may want to copy the public key to the VM to simplify logins, by issuing the following command on your laptop:
cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub | ssh -i ~/.ssh/cloudwestkey.pem email@example.com 'cat >>.ssh/authorized_keys'
Compiling ParaView with OSMesa
Since the VM does not have access to a GPU (most Cloud West VMs don't), we need to compile ParaView with OSMesa support so that it can do offscreen (software) rendering. The default configuration of OSMesa will enable OpenSWR (Intel's software rasterization library to run OpenGL). What you'll end up with is a ParaView server that uses OSMesa for offscreen CPU-based rendering without X but with both llvmpipe (older and slower) and SWR (newer and faster) drivers built. We recommend using SWR.
Back on the VM, compile cmake::
wget https://cmake.org/files/v3.7/cmake-3.7.0.tar.gz unpack and cd there ./bootstrap make sudo make install
Next, compile llvm:
cd wget http://releases.llvm.org/3.9.1/llvm-3.9.1.src.tar.xz unpack and cd there mkdir -p build && cd build cmake \ -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release \ -DLLVM_BUILD_LLVM_DYLIB=ON \ -DLLVM_ENABLE_RTTI=ON \ -DLLVM_INSTALL_UTILS=ON \ -DLLVM_TARGETS_TO_BUILD:STRING=X86 \ .. make sudo make install
Next, compile Mesa with OSMesa:
cd wget ftp://ftp.freedesktop.org/pub/mesa/mesa-17.0.0.tar.gz unpack and cd there ./configure \ --enable-opengl --disable-gles1 --disable-gles2 \ --disable-va --disable-xvmc --disable-vdpau \ --enable-shared-glapi \ --disable-texture-float \ --enable-gallium-llvm --enable-llvm-shared-libs \ --with-gallium-drivers=swrast,swr \ --disable-dri \ --disable-egl --disable-gbm \ --disable-glx \ --disable-osmesa --enable-gallium-osmesa make sudo make install
Next, compile ParaView server:
cd wget http://www.paraview.org/files/v5.2/ParaView-v5.2.0.tar.gz unpack and cd there mkdir -p build && cd build cmake \ -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release \ -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/home/centos/paraview \ -DPARAVIEW_USE_MPI=OFF \ -DPARAVIEW_ENABLE_PYTHON=ON \ -DPARAVIEW_BUILD_QT_GUI=OFF \ -DVTK_OPENGL_HAS_OSMESA=ON \ -DVTK_USE_OFFSCREEN=ON \ -DVTK_USE_X=OFF \ .. make make install
Running ParaView in client-server mode
Now you are ready to start ParaView server on the VM with SWR rendering:
Back on your laptop, organize an SSH tunnel from the local port 11111 to the VM's port 11111:
ssh firstname.lastname@example.org -L 11111:localhost:11111
Finally, start the ParaView client on your laptop and connect to localhost:11111. If successful, you should be able to open files on the remote VM. During rendering in the console you should see the message "SWR detected AVX2".
Compiling VisIt with OSMesa
VisIt with offscreen rendering support can be built with a single script:
wget http://portal.nersc.gov/project/visit/releases/2.12.1/build_visit2_12_1 chmod u+x build_visit2_12_1 ./build_visit2_12_1 --prefix /home/centos/visit --mesa --system-python \ --hdf4 --hdf5 --netcdf --silo --szip --xdmf --zlib
This may take a couple of hours. Once finished, you can test the installation with:
~/visit/bin/visit -cli -nowin
This should start a VisIt Python shell.
Running VisIt in client-server mode
Start VisIt on your laptop and in Options -> Host profiles... edit the connection nickname (let's call it Cloud West), the VM host name, path to VisIt installation (/home/centos/visit) and your username on the VM, and enable tunneling through ssh. Don't forget to save settings with Options -> Save Settings. Then opening a file (File -> Open file... -> Host = Cloud West) you should see the VM's filesystem. Load a file and try to visualize it. Data processing and rendering should be done on the VM, while the result and the GUI controls will be displayed on your laptop.
Upcoming visualization events
- visualization webinar in May 2017, topic TBA
- full-day VisIt visualization workshop at UofCalgary (May-04)
Compute Canada visualization presentation materials
Full- or half-day workshops
- VisIt workshop slides from HPCS'2016 in Edmonton by Marcelo Ponce and Alex Razoumov
- ParaView workshop slides from February 2016 by Alex Razoumov
- Gnuplot, xmgrace, remote visualization tools (X-forwarding and VNC), python's matplotlib slides by Marcelo Ponce (SciNet/UofT) from Ontario HPC Summer School 2016
- Brief overview of ParaView & VisIt slides by Marcelo Ponce (SciNet/UofT) from Ontario HPC Summer School 2016
Webinars and other short presentations
- Using ParaViewWeb for 3D visualization and data analysis in a browser from March 2017 by Alex Razoumov
- Visualization support in WestGrid / Compute Canada from January 2017 by Alex Razoumov
- VisIt scripting from November 2016 by Alex Razoumov
- Batch visualization webinar slides from March 2015 by Alex Razoumov
- CPU-based rendering with OSPRay from September 2016 by Alex Razoumov
- Gephi webinar notes from March 2016 by Alex Razoumov
- 3D graphs with NetworkX, VTK, and ParaView slides from May 2016 by Alex Razoumov
- Remote Graphics on SciNet's GPC system (Client-Server and VNC) slides by Ramses van Zon (SciNet/UofT) from October 2015 SciNet User Group Meeting
- VisIt Basics, slides by Marcelo Ponce (SciNet/UofT) from February 2016 SciNet User Group Meeting
- Intro to Complex Networks Visualization, with Python, slides by Marcelo Ponce (SciNet/UofT)
- Introduction to GUI Programming with Tkinter, from Sept.2014 by Erik Spence (SciNet/UofT)
Tips and tricks
This section will describe visualization workflows not included into the workshop/webinar slides above. It is meant to be user-editable, so please feel free to add your cool visualization scripts and workflows here so that everyone can benefit from them.
Regional visualization pages
- Running pre-/post-processing graphical applications
- Supported software (see visualization section at bottom)
You can find a gallery of visualizations based on models run on Compute Canada systems in the visualization gallery. There you can click on individual thumbnails to get more details on each visualization.
How to get visualization help
You can contact us via email.