There is a number of HPC systems at SURFsara that can (and are) used for visualization tasks, both interactively and batch-like.

We also have access to a number of visualization-related devices and facilities. We can provide support and experience in using these devices for research and education projects.

HPC Systems

Cartesius - The Dutch National Supercomputer

Cartesius is the Dutch national supercomputer. Cartesius is a general purpose capability system and is designed to be a well balanced system. If you need one or more of: many cores, large SMP nodes, much memory, a fast interconnect, a lot of disk storage, or a fast I/O subsystem, Cartesius is the machine of choice.

Cartesius contains an accelerator island of nodes with GPUs, which can be used for both GPU-based computations, as well as for (interactive) remote visualization.

See this page for more information, including documentation on using (interactive) remote visualization on Cartesius. An example of this is using ParaView’s client-server mode for rendering large datasets on multiple GPU node.

Lisa National Compute Cluster

The Lisa system is a cluster computer consisting of several hundreds of multi-core nodes running the Linux operating system. The system is installed and maintained by SURFsara.

A new addition in 2018 to Lisa is a collection of nodes with GPUs (NVIDIA GTX1080Ti). These nodes are primarily aimed at performing computations, but will be made suitable for remote visualization as well. The work for this is scheduled for Q1 2018.

HPC Cloud

With the HPC Cloud facility, SURFsara offers self-service, dynamically scalable and fully configurable HPC systems to the Dutch academic community. Users have, for example, a free choice of operating system and software. The HPC Cloud offers full control over a HPC cluster, with fast CPUs and high memory nodes and it is possible to attach terabytes of local storage to a compute node. Because of this flexibility, users can fully tailor the system for a particular application. Long-running and small compute jobs are equally welcome.

The GPU nodes in the HPC Cloud can be used for interactive remote visualization, see here.

ELvis remote visualization cluster (end-of-life)

For years the ELvis cluster was the main remote visualization system available at SURFsara. With the availability of GPUs in other HPC systems, like Cartesius, Lisa and the HPC Cloud, the need for a separate visualization system has diminished. Hence, at the end of its lifetime at the end of 2107 the ELvis cluster was not replaced with a new separate visualization cluster.

Instead, users can use Cartesius and the HPC Cloud for (interactive) visualization on the available GPUs.


The Collaboratorium is a visualization and presentation space for science and industry. The facility is of great use for researchers that are faced with exponential growth and complexity of data from observations, experiments and simulations.

The Collaboratorium provides an inviting and informal environment. Central in the room is a conference table that seats seven people. The table provides connections for network, video, audio and power that can be directly connected to, for example, a user’s laptop. Additional seats can be made available in the back of the room.


  • High-resolution display wall (7,680 x 2,160 pixels, 16.6 megapixel)
  • Multi-touch interaction
  • Video conferencing
  • 3D stereo projection

More information can be found here.

Microsoft HoloLens

The HoloLens is one of the first Augmented Reality (AR) headsets that provides all the components to do AR: a see-through stereoscopic display and room-space tracking all in a compact standalone device. Although the graphical capabilities of the HoloLens are still fairly limited future AR headsets will undoubtedly improve on this. The HoloLens is currently the best headset for getting to know and understand Augmented Reality.

If you are interested in the possibilities of the HoloLens (or Augmented Reality in general), don’t hesitate to contact us.

HTC Vive

Virtual reality is in the middle of a renaissance, due to the availability of affordable head-mounted displays, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. At SURFsara we investigate the possibilities and applicability of using VR for scientific visualization. Using the Vive headset we also regularly hold demonstrations at events where visitors can experience Virtual Reality.

GoPro Fusion 360

A 360 degree camera, such as the GoPro Fusion 360, provides an easy way to capture 360 degree images or video. The content can be viewed online, as in the photo below showing the SURF Science Park building. For more immersive viewing a Virtual Reality headset like the HTC Vive can be used, which provides interesting possibilities for research and education.

Content in 360 degree format is not limited to real-life footage, it can also be computer-generated. For example, here’s a 360 view inside that we rendered from a cell-based blood simulation from the University of Amsterdam: