Lawrence Livermore National Labs
Several (most compile from source)

VisIt is a scientific visualization software program for analyzing scientific data on Unix (AIX, Irix, Solaris, Linux), MacOS X, and Windows platforms. VisIt is under development by the Lawrence Livermore National Labs under the auspices of the Department of Energy's Advanced Simulation and Computing Initiative (ASCI).


VisIt was developed by the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Simulation and Computing Initiative (ASCI) to visualize and analyze the results of terascale simulations. It was developed as a framework for adding custom capabilities and rapidly deploying new visualization technologies. After an initial prototype effort, work on VisIt began in the summer of 2000, and the initial version of VisIt was released in the fall of 2002. Although the primary driving force behind the development of VisIt was for visualizing terascale data, it is also well suited for visualizing data from typical simulations on desktop systems.


VisIt supports both single-user mode, client-server mode, and client-distributed server mode.

  • Single-User Mode - The user runs the application just like any other application, with all data existing on the local machine and all processing done on the local machine.
  • Client-Server Mode - The user runs a lightweight client on the local machine and runs the server on a separate remote machine. The data will be loaded by the server, and the server will be responsible for all computation. Rendering can be done on either the remote or local system, depending on the configuration.
  • Client-Distributed Server Mode - The user runs a lightweight client on the local machine and runs multiple servers on a separate cluster. Data will be loaded on the remote server, and the server will be responsible for all computation. Rendering can be done in parallel across the many servers with the results properly composited and sent back to the client, or the rendering can be performed locally.

VisIt and the SRD Utility

Additionally, the SRD utility provides a virtual desktop served from an HPC Utility Server, from which VisIt can be launched. The desktop is displayed back to the user's local workstation (Linux, Mac, or Windows) via TurboVNC built into the SRD software. You can learn more about the SRD here.

Downloading the customized HPC Client-Server Software

VisIt installation tar/zip files (for Linux, Mac, and Windows workstations) have been prebuilt with custom scripts to connect to HPC Server Systems. Simply download the zipped files from any utility sever, and follow the instructions given in the README files. The respective paths are:

  • /app/projects/client-server/Visit/Linux
  • /app/projects/client-server/Visit/Mac
  • /app/projects/client-server/Visit/Windows

Getting Started


  1. Data Formats and Reading in Data
    1. Data Formats
    2. Reading in Data
    3. Changing Hosts
    4. Virtual Databases
    5. Refreshing the File List
  2. Main Window
  3. Plots
    1. Boundary Plots
    2. Contour Plots
    3. Curve Plots
    4. Histogram Plots
    5. Label Plots
    6. Mesh Plots
    7. Pseudocolor Plots
    8. Scatter Plots
    9. Spreadsheet Plots
    10. Surface Plots
    11. Vector Plots
    12. Volume Plots
  4. Operators
    1. Box Operator
    2. Clip Operator
    3. Cone Operator
    4. Cylinder Operator
  5. Controls
    1. Animation Control
    2. Annotation Control
    3. View Control

Intermediate Tutorials

VisIt Client-Server HPC Job Launching

Video Tutorials

Documents and Articles

Course Materials from class taught at ARL on May 23-24, 2011

External Links