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Acceleration of direct volume rendering with texture slabs on programmable graphics hardware

Yalım, Hacer
This thesis proposes an efficient method to accelerate ray based volume rendering with texture slabs using programmable graphics hardware. In this method, empty space skipping and early ray termination are utilized without performing any preprocessing on CPU side. The acceleration structure is created on the fly by making use of depth buffer efficiently on Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) side. In the proposed method, texture slices are grouped together to form a texture slab. Rendering all the slabs from front to back viewing order in multiple rendering passes generates the resulting volume image. Slab silhouette maps (SSM) are created to identify and skip empty spaces along the ray direction at pixel level. These maps are created from the alpha component of the slab and stored in the depth buffer. In addition to the empty region information, SSM also contains information about the terminated rays. The method relies on hardware z-occlusion culling that is realized by means of SSMs to accelerate ray traversals. The cost of generating this acceleration data structure is very small compared to the total rendering time.