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makepath is excited to announce that we recently made
Xarray-Spatial’s raster calculations 300 times faster with Open Source libraries, Nvidia’s CUDA toolkit, and a Nvidia GPU.

This is part of makepath’s efforts to speed up processing times for common raster analysis functions, as well as leverage GPUs to speed up geospatial data processing and analysis.

The Results: Nvidia GPU + CUDA Toolkit 

Viewshed operations using CUDA algorithms were over 300 times faster than traditional CPU algorithms. 

To get these results, we used a combination of CUDA algorithms on a Nvidia T4 GPU, and ray tracing with OptiX through RTXpy.

Viewshed CPU vs. GPU Testing Results

Real-time Viewshed and Hillshade results on Crater Lake National Park. With each click, the Viewshed is calculated from that point. The illumination source for Hillshade calculations circles around the crater.

Open Source Projects Involved

Three Open Source projects are an active part of makepath’s work with GPUs:


NVIDIA’s source code behind OptiX is Open Source, which paves the way for the Open Source community to access GPU capabilities for Open Source projects.


RTXpy is an RTX wrapper for Python that the makepath team contributes to, built off the RTX source code.

RTXpy uses Nvidia’s RTX technology to enable Open Source ray tracing capabilities.


Xarray-Spatial is a GIS library for raster analysis and makepath’s current test ground for the capabilities of GPUs.

What We Worked On

We used Open Source GIS operations from Xarray-Spatial for testing.


Viewshed Terrain with Observer Point

Viewshed finds all visible locations in an input raster surface from a specific place within the raster. This geospatial operation answers the question of, “What can an observer see from this specific location?”


Hillshade Terrain with Shadows

Hillshade makes a shaded relief from a surface raster, taking the illumination source angle and shadows into account. This geospatial operation answers the question of, “If an illumination source (like the sun) was over there, what would the terrain look like?”. 

Contact Us

Want to learn more about the work makepath is doing with GPUs?

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