ANARI Overview

Analytic Rendering Interface for Data Visualization

The new ANARI™ (Analytic Rendering Interface) working group is defining an open, royalty-free API standard for cross-vendor access to state-of-the-art rendering engines. ANARI will enable experts in domains such as scientific visualization to leverage the latest rendering techniques, without needing to use low-level rendering APIs. Graphics vendors will use the ANARI API to enable visualization engines, libraries and applications with portable access to a diverse range of rendering technologies, including ray tracing.

What is Analytic Rendering?

Analytic Rendering is image generation performed primarily to gain and communicate insights into complex data sets. Scientific visualization is the primary application domain using Analytic Rendering today, followed by the emerging data analytics space.

VMD ray traced visualization of swine flu A/H1N1 neuraminidase bound to Tamiflu – VMD, U. Illinois VMD ray traced visualization of swine flu A/H1N1 neuraminidase bound to Tamiflu – VMD, U. Illinois
Pathtraced visualization of OpenFOAM motorbike – NVIDIA Pathtraced visualization of OpenFOAM motorbike – NVIDIA

Why is ANARI Needed?

Recent advances in rendering technology, especially the introduction of real-time ray tracing, has great promise to significantly impact data visualization by providing physically accurate imagery and visual cues for an intuitive understanding of complex data. However, using these graphical techniques can come at the cost of increased application development cost and complexity. Graphics APIs such as Vulkan, and its upcoming ray tracing extension, provide powerful rendering hardware abstractions, but may be too low-level, development-heavy and time consuming for many visualization applications to utilize effectively.

Consequently, several hardware vendors have developed higher-level rendering APIs, such as Intel’s OSPRay and NVIDIA’s VisRTX, but this leads to ecosystem fragmentation as visualization applications need to be ported to multiple, incompatible platforms.

ANARI will significantly reduce software development costs while making advanced rendering techniques more accessible and widely used by visualization applications for which rendering is just a necessary technique to be utilized. Additionally, ANARI will provide portability to diverse platforms without the need to re-write application or library code.

Situation Before

Visualization applications must be ported to multiple rendering APIsVisualization applications must be ported to multiple rendering APIs

Situation After

Diverse rendering backends can be accessed through a single high-level APIDiverse rendering backends can be accessed through a single high-level API

ANARI Working Group Goals

Ray traced visualization courtesy of Oak Ridge Leadership Computing FacilityRay traced visualization courtesy of Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility

The ANARI Working Group will define a high-level API to simplify the development of visualization applications while leveraging the full potential of modern rendering capabilities.This concise, high-level API will be a contract between visualization domain experts and rendering technologists, enabling a “win-win” by simplifying implementation and deployment for both groups. Key goals include:

  • Create an open, royalty-free API that is platform independent – enabling visualization applications to portably access diverse rendering backends
  • Provide visualization applications access to the full range of modern rendering capabilities and engines, including – but not restricted to – the latest ray tracing techniques
  • Free visualization domain experts from the necessity of dealing with non-trivial rendering details and multiple incompatible backend rendering APIs
  • Enable graphics experts developing rendering backends to avoid the need to implement domain-specific functionality and optimizations through supporting a well-designed, cross-platform API standard – and hence making their backend renderers accessible to a wider diversity of disciplines and audiences.


Rather than specifying the details of the rendering process, the ANARI API would enable visualization application to simply describe the relationship between objects in a scene to be rendered and leave the details of the rendering process to a backend renderer. Unlike more general scene graph APIs, the proposed initiative would focus specifically on the needs of the visualization domain - and as with any successful interoperability standard, the proposal would enable and encourage a diverse range of competitive API implementations.

Visualization-focused applications simply describe objects in a scene to gain portable access to a competitive range of rendering backend implementationsVisualization-focused applications simply describe objects in a scene to gain portable access to a competitive range of rendering backend implementations

Get Involved!

Help shape the ANARI API to simplify the development of visualization applications!

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Industry Support for ANARI

Industry support from: AMD, Argonne, Autodesk, Boeing, Delta h, DVision lab, Intel, Kitware, Los Alamos, NVIDIA, Oak Ridge, SURVICE, RACC and Tecplot

“Our recent experience integrating Intel OSPRay and NVIDIA OptiX rendering into VTK demonstrates that cooperation over rendering interfaces can help bring advanced rendering features and best of class performance into visualization applications while minimizing development costs, We expect that wide adoption of a cross-vendor open standard will accelerate the development of new features and innovation.”

“We are excited to launch the ANARI Working Group and begin creating a standard to foster significant data visualization innovation while streamlining development efforts for the industry,” said. “ANARI will free visualization software developers from non-trivial rendering details while enabling graphics experts and hardware vendors to avoid domain-specific functionality and optimizations in their rendering backends.”

“The Analytic Rendering API, not only will contribute to application portability of scientific visualization tools, but also will reduce the burden of developing, deploying, and maintaining visualization codes across heterogeneous HPC architectures.”

“The ANARI API could be a huge productivity booster for us, simply by reducing our development and maintenance costs quite significantly and by providing instantaneous portability across multiple hardware platforms.”

“We are excited about a standard interface around scientific rendering as low-level interfaces require significant overhead in development time. The Analytical Rendering Interface standard will allow us to focus on novel scientific visualizations and bring these to market faster than ever before.”

“The development of an open rendering interface standard specialized for the unique needs of technical and scientific visualization will enable software tools to exploit state-of-the-art renderers using rasterization and ray tracing to perform interactive, in-situ, and post-hoc visualization on hardware platforms ranging from PCs to the largest parallel computers in the world. By raising the level of abstraction and providing a standard interface, ANARI will enable visualization software developers to rapidly deploy cutting-edge hardware-optimized renderers and rendering technologies in their tools, relying on an ecosystem of robust standard-conforming implementations.”