Tracking Graphics State For Networked Rendering

Ian Buck, Greg Humphreys and Pat Hanrahan
Stanford University

Appears in the Proceedings of the 2000 Eurographics/SIGGRAPH Workshop on Graphics Hardware


As networks get faster, it becomes more feasible to render large data sets remotely. For example, it is useful to run large scientific simulations on remote compute servers, but visualize the results of those simulations on one or more local displays. The WireGL project at Stanford is researching new techniques for rendering over a network. For many applications, we can render remotely over a gigabit network to a tiled display with little to no performance loss compared to running locally. One of the elements of WireGL that makes this performance possible is our ability to track the graphics state of a running application.

In this paper, we will describe our techniques for tracking state, as well as efficient algorithms for computing the difference between two graphics contexts. This fast differencing operation allows WireGL to transmit less state data over the network by updating server state lazily. It also allows our system to context switch between multiple graphics applications several million times per second without flushing the hardware accelerator, resulting in substantial performance gains when sharing a remote display between multiple clients.


Greg Humphreys