Open Inventor FAQs - Hardware Features/Stereo/Overlays

[Win32] What hardware do you recommend that I buy for use with Open Inventor?

Any PC that is appropriate for software development should be appropriate for Open Inventor. While we can't recommend specific system configurations, we can provide some general suggestions.

First, we recommend Windows 7. We recommend a fast system with lots of memory. Generally speaking, the faster the better, and the more memory the better.

We recommend 1GB or more of RAM. You will need much more memory to load large data sets for volume rendering.

In our experience, a fast hard drive is important too. A slow hard drive can make a fast system seem slow.

For 3D graphics, a good OpenGL accelerator will be a big performance booster. NVIDIA and ATI are all good boards (in various ranges). There are benchmark sites on the internet showing relative performance (absolute performance in a real application rarely approaches benchmark numbers).

If your application uses a lot of textures or large textures, be sure to look at the memory available on the board. If your application uses volume rendering, you may find pixel fill rate is more important than triangles per second. Also for volume rendering, support for either the paletted_texture or texture_color_table OpenGL extension is important (but not required). Finally, lower priced 3D boards may not support some OpenGL features like overlay planes, stereo, etc.

[Win32] Can you recommend a graphics card for my system?

We don't do benchmarking and we only hear when people have problems, so we are actually a poor source of information on this subject. We also try to remain hardware-vendor neutral. FEI does not evaluate or endorse hardware -- to do so would undermine our position as a system-independent software supplier. In addition, the technology changes so fast that keeping recommendations up to date would be a full-time job.

Open Inventor should be accelerated by any board that accelerates OpenGL.

We provide a list of platforms used for testing Open Inventor in our labs ind System Requirements section of this documentation.

[Win32/Linux] Can you tell me which 3D accelerators have full OpenGL support?

We can suggest you to use tools like GLview from realteck which provide a database of all GPUs with their corresponding supported OpenGL features. This tool is regularly updated.

How can I determine the features of my graphics board?

On Microsoft Windows, run the "oglinfo" program provided with the Open Inventor SDK. It will list the available "pixel formats" (similar to "visuals" on X Windows systems) and some attributes of each format. Note that with an accelerator board, the available pixel formats may be different for different screen resolutions and color depths.

On X Windows, run the utility "xglinfo" (available from various ftp sites if not provided by your system vendor).

Since Open Inventor 8.0, the ivReport tool can be used to get the hardware information on any system.

[Win32] What makes a pixel format "good" or "bad" for use by Open Inventor?

In order for a pixel format to be acceptable to Open Inventor, there are five key requirements:

  • must be valid for OpenGL
    (only pixel formats suitable for OpenGL are displayed by oglinfo)
  • must be RGBA
    (unless indexed color was explicitly requested by app, which is very rare!) ("Type" = RGBA in oglinfo chart)
  • must have a depth buffer
    ("Depth Bits" > 0 in oglinfo)
  • must be double buffered
    (in the usual case of double buffered rendering) ("Dbl Buf" = Y in oglinfo)
  • must be valid for a window
    ("Draw to" = win or w/b)

Beyond that, Open Inventor prefers acceleration ("HW Acc"), the deepest possible color bits, and if possible, a stencil buffer.

Open Inventor will also request stereo, overlay planes, and other features depending on application and user requests.

Remember that you can list all the available pixel formats with the (command line) utility program "oglinfo". The available pixel formats may depend on the current screen resolution and color depth.

You can review Open Inventor's decision making process when choosing a pixel format, by setting the environment variable OIV_DEBUG_PIXEL_FORMAT. The output is written to a file named "pixel.txt".

See "Configuration Files and Environment Variables" for information on environment variable OIV_FORCE_PIXEL_FORMAT, which can be used to request a specific pixel format.

[Win32] When I tried to run an Open Inventor program on my laptop, I got an Inventor error "choosePixelFormat failed". What do I do?

This error indicates that Open Inventor did not find a pixel format that is suitable for Open Inventor graphics. (See other FAQ question that explains the requirements of a "suitable" pixel format.). It's a possible indication that the OpenGL support is less than robust. There are several possible courses of action:

  • Change the display size and/or color depth and try again.
  • Get an updated display driver.
  • Run the oglinfo program (supplied in the program directory of the Open Inventor installation) to see if you see a valid pixel format. If you see one that looks valid, use environment variable OIV_FORCE_PIXEL_FORMAT to tell Open Inventor to use it. For example, if pixel format 3 is good, set OIV_FORCE_PIXEL_FORMAT to 3.
  • Install a different graphics display card (and associated display driver).

[Linux] What are the server settings to turn on overlays and stereo ?

Open/usr/X11/XF86Config or xorg.conf
The following lines must be defined in the Device section :

    Option "Stereo" "3"
    Option "Overlay" "on"
    Option "CIOverlay" "on"