So in my research group we are trying to do some real-time volume rendering on a budget (ie, no SGIs). We’ve been using the VolumePro PCI card with moderate success for some time. Although the card is a true technical marvel (real-time raytracing hardware - in some sense) we’ve grown tired of its limitations (you’re stuck with an orthographic projection and you can’t intersect volume data and polygons) and it exceeds our target cost.
Therefore when we saw the inexpensive Radeon come out with texture_3D we picked one up as quick as we could. The ATI developer site has sample code as well as documentation implying that the Radeon can be used for scientific volume visualization. Imagine my surprise when I find out it doesn’t support paletted textures! Those who have done volvis before probably know that this is practically a requirement for real-time scientific/medical volvis (you’ve got to be able to change the “classification function” interactively).
So is there any consumer-class hardware that supports both texture_3D and paletted_texture? nVidia has one extension, ATI has the other. Therefore each is capable of doing a half-baked rendition of real-time volume visualization. Is there anything available (or that will come out soon) in the consumer market that has both features?