Build VTK with Python Bindings and CUDA, TBB, & MPI on Windows


I cannot load VTK into python on Windows with support for CUDA, MPI, and TBB. Volume rendering is unreasonably slow for production with the default PyPI distribution (hours or more) and I need to leverage my hardware to speed up computations.

I have successfully built VTK 9.3.0 for Python 3.8.10-x64 with CMake and Visual Studio and have bin, lib, include, and share folders and have added these to PATH, but Python does not see vtk:

Python 3.8.10 (tags/v3.8.10:3d8993a, May  3 2021, 11:48:03) [MSC v.1928 64 bit (AMD64)] on win32
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import vtk
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'vtk'

I attempted to place the generated Lib/site-packages, bin, lib, and include folders in appropriate places in C:\Program Files\Python38, but I still get a DLL load error:

> py -3.8
Python 3.8.10 (tags/v3.8.10:3d8993a, May  3 2021, 11:48:03) [MSC v.1928 64 bit (AMD64)] on win32
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import vtk
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "C:\Program Files\Python38\lib\site-packages\vtkmodules\", line 13, in <module>
    from . import vtkCommonCore
ImportError: DLL load failed while importing vtkCommonCore: The specified module could not be found.

During handling of the above exception, another exception occurred:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "C:\Program Files\Python38\lib\site-packages\", line 30, in <module>
    all_m = importlib.import_module('vtkmodules.all')
  File "C:\Program Files\Python38\lib\importlib\", line 127, in import_module
    return _bootstrap._gcd_import(name[level:], package, level)
  File "C:\Program Files\Python38\lib\site-packages\vtkmodules\", line 15, in <module>
    import _vtkmodules_static
ModuleNotFoundError: No module named '_vtkmodules_static'


OS: Windows 10 Enterprise, x64-bit, Build 1909
CPU: 2x Intel(R) Xeon(R) Gold 6248R
Disk: 2TB NVMe M.2 SSD
RAM: 192 GB DDR4
Compute GPUs: 2x NVIDIA Quadro RTX8000 in TCC mode with NVLink
Display GPU: 1x NVIDIA Quadro RTX4000
Visual Studio: [Visual Studio 16 2019 Community][1]
Windows SDK: [10.0.19041.0][2], targeting 10.0.18363
Python: [3.8.10 x64-bit][3]
CMake: [3.21.1][4] (I use CMake-GUI)
vcpkg: [2021-08-12][5]
VTK Source: [vtk-9.0.3-cp38-cp38-win_amd64][6] (download from VTK website; not GitHub master)
VTKPythonPackage: [GitHub Link][7] (…not sure if I need this…)
CUDA Toolkit: [11.4][8]
TBB: [2021.3.0][9] (via Intel(R) oneAPI Base Toolkit)
MPI: [2021.3.0][9] (via Intel(R) oneAPI HPC Toolkit)

NOTE: If desired, Embree, OSPRay, and OpenVKL are available in the Intel(R) oneAPI Rendering Toolkit


NOTE: There are A LOT of programs to be downloaded, installed, and configured, and they are important for proper building. In an attempt to shorten this post to an MRE (Minimal Reproducable Example), please go straight to the Steps to Reproduce section.

NOTE: When setting Environment Variables, you may get an error that a PATH length greater than 2047 is not permitted. To overcome this hurdle, it is simplest to edit the path directly in the Windows Registry. Open regedit as an Admin, navigate to

Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment

and set the Path variable there.

TIP: To edit PATH, I copy and paste from the Registry into Word, then selected and replace ;'s with paragraph endings ^p by selecting Ctrl+H and then using the Replace tool as follows:

[![Find and Replace][10]][10]

When finished, I simply reverse the changes by replacing ^p's with ;s. This is simpler for me than struggling with regular expressions.

1. Install Visual Studio

  1. Download the [Visual Studio Installer][1]

  2. Run the installer, choose Visual Studio Community 2019, and select Desktop development with C++. Ensure the following are selected in Individual Components

  • Windows 10 SDK
  • C++ ATL for latest...
  • C++ MFC for latest...
  • C++ CMake tools for Windows

NOTE: (For me on Windows 10 with Visual Studio 2019, these are v142)

  1. Ensure the path to the corresponding bin, lib, and include folders are in the PATH of System Environment Variables. These can be either:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\VC\bin
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\VC\lib
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\VC\include


C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\VC\Tools\MSVC\14.29.30133\bin\Hostx64\x64\
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\VC\Tools\MSVC\14.29.30133\lib\x64\
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\VC\Tools\MSVC\14.29.30133\include

NOTE: (I recommend the latter at a minimum. )

  1. Ensure the following additional System Environment Variables have been set by the installer:
VS140COMNTOOLS=C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\Common7\Tools\
VS160COMCOMNTOOLS=C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\Common7\Tools\
VS2019INSTALLDIR=C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community
VSSDK140INSTALLDIR=C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\VSSDK\

NOTE: Even though the installer downloads these to Program Files (x86), they are in fact the x64-bit programs (I know…Windows is weird…)

2. Install CUDA

  1. Download and run cuda_11.4.1_471.41_win10.exe ([link][11])

TIP: The local installer will take longer to download, but your installs will run faster. I recommend saving the installer for the future anyway in case your CUDA Toolkit becomes corrupted or you need to install on another machine.

  1. Ensure the following are added to PATH in System Environment Variables
C:\Program Files\NVIDIA GPU Computing Toolkit\CUDA\v11.4\bin
C:\Program Files\NVIDIA GPU Computing Toolkit\CUDA\v11.4\libnvvp

ASIDE: You MUST use version 11.4 for VTK 9. However, as an aside, when using 10.2 in CMake, if CMake cannot find CUDA, this is probably because the CUDA Toolkit 10.2 installer for some reason does not copy the Visual Studio MSBuild Extensions over to your Visual Studio folder. Copy the files at

C:\Program Files\NVIDIA GPU Computing Toolkit\CUDA\v10.2\extras\visual_studio_integration\MSBuildExtensions\


C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\Common7\IDE\VC\VCTargets\BuildCustomizations

NOTE: If you want to run your GPU in TCC mode (WARNING: This disables graphics output), and/or if you have two GPUs connected via NVLink and want to activate NVLink, run the following command in command prompt:

> nvidia-smi -i 0 -dm 1
> nvidia-smi -i 1 -dm 1

Assuming you have two GPUs with ID’s 0 and 1 you want to run in TCC mode. (To check, simply run nvidia-smi and see which GPUs you want to activate in TCC mode with the -dm switch). The [PugetSystems Instructions][12] have change with CUDA 11. NVIDIA’s newer drivers, which ship with the NVIDIA Control Panel, no longer have the Configure SLI, Surround, PhysX under 3D Settings, particularly if using a Quadro card rather than a GeForce card. Instead, NVLink will be activated once TCC mode is set, which disables graphics output. The program they have provided only works for CUDA 10, so you will get an error with it when using CUDA 11 even though it is enabled.

NOTE: If you get an error “Intel Graphics Driver for Windows not found”, ignore it. You only need the drivers for the CPU.

NOTE: Don’t add more than the /lib/ and /libnvvp/ folders to path. CMake might not be able to find CUDA if you do. If you have to add other folders (e.g. CUPTI), I recommend the lib/ and libnvvp/ folder appear FIRST in PATH.

3. Install CMake

  1. Download and install [CMake][4] (…that was easy)

4. Install vcpkg

  1. Download and configure vcpkg:
cd C:\
git clone
cd vcpkg
vcpkg integrate install
  1. Set the default triplet in the System Environment Variables to x64-windows:
  1. Install ports using vcpkg install. Press Configure in CMake and every time it cannot find a dependency you want installed, search for the dependency with vcpkg search and install it with vcpkg install (to remove a package, use vcpkg remove)._

NOTE: BE AWARE that depending on what you install, these dependencies take A LOT of space and take A LONG TIME to download.

5. Install Intel oneAPI Toolkits

NOTE: These include TBB, MPI, OSPRay, and the Intel Fortran compiler ifort.exe, which you need.

  1. Intel(R) oneAPI Base Toolkit
  2. Intel(R) oneAPI HPC Toolkit
  3. Intel(R) oneAPI Rendering Toolkit (for Embree, OSPRay, and OpenVKL, optionally)

and add the corresponding lib, bin, and include folders to PATH.

6. Install Intel SPMD Compiler

  1. [Intel(R) Implicit SPMD Program Compiler][13]

7. Additional Dependencies with Installers

NOTE: You may not need or want need these. I am adding them here for completeness. If CMake complains about not finding these, I recommend installing them.

  1. [Nullsoft Scriptable Install System][14]
  2. [WiX Toolset][15]
  3. [MySQL Community (GPL) Installer for Windows][16]
  4. [MySQL ODBC Connector][17]
  5. [Strawberry Perl][18]

8. Dependencies that are Unsuccessful on Windows

NOTE: I have tried installing binaries for these and adding them to PATH, but they just don’t seem to work on Windows…

NOTE: For each of these, you can also try downloading corresponding python 3.8 zip source file (on GitHub, under Releases, and on conda forge, under Files) to a folder on C:` and then add the subfolders bin, lib, include (and share if available) to the PATH System Environment Variable.

  1. [OpenTurns 1.17][19]
  2. [GDAL 3.3.1][20]

Steps to Reproduce

  1. I set my PATH first. VTK will make bin, include, lib, and share folders, so I make sure these are at the front of PATH. Here is what I have (HINT: Refer to setting PATH in regedit to avoid the Windows error of PATH length greater than 2047 characters in the Preparation section above)

  2. Open CMake as an Administrator

  3. Set the Source folder to C:\VTK\src and Build folder to C:\VTK\build

  4. Press Configure and select Visual Studio 16 2019 as the generator with x64 as the optional platform:

NOTE: I do not know if libraries for VTK and CUDA should be built for 32-bit. I am using 64-bit as my best guess.

  1. After Configuration completes, you will see many variables, which is understandable overwhelming and it is unclear what the differences are between DEFAULT, YES, NO, WANT, and DON'T WANT. Unfortunately, the answer is hidden tucked away in VTK’s CMake Module API Doxygen docs

[VTK CMake Module API][22]

[![Enable Status Values][23]][23]

For now, I leave everything default and edit the following CMake variables:

TIP: Check the Grouped and Advanced check boxes next to the Add Entry button to see all variables grouped by corresponding project/module:

VTK_USE_CUDA    Checked
VTK_USE_MPI    Checked

and delete


under Ungrouped Entries

  1. Rerun Configure

  2. Change the following CMake Variables:

Python3_EXECUTABLE    C:/Program Files/Python38/python.exe
Python3_INCLUDE_DIR    C:/Program Files/Python38/include
Python3_LIBRARY    C:/Program Files/Python38/libs/python38.lib
  1. Rerun Configure
Output from 3rd Configure:
Selecting Windows SDK version 10.0.19041.0 to target Windows 10.0.18363.
Found Python3: C:/Program Files/Python38/python.exe (found suitable version "3.8.10", minimum required is "3.2") found components: Interpreter Development.Module Development.Embed 
Configuring done
  1. My CMake variables now look like this:

ASIDE: Would be nice if the CMake GUI had an option to output variables to a text file, especially for debugging…

ASIDE: Would be nice if CMake GUI could tell you what had actually been activiated/used since everything shows up with DEFAULT value and we don’t want to change that…

ASIDE: Would be nice if there was a high level overview somewhere of what all of these modules entail so users can understand what they want/need…

[![CMake Variables 01][24]][24]

[![CMake Variables 02][25]][25]

[![CMake Variables 03][26]][26]

[![CMake Varables 04][27]][27]

[![CMake Variables 05][28]][28]

[![CMake Variables 06][29]][29]

[![CMake Variables 07][30]][30]

  1. Click Generate
Output from Generate
Selecting Windows SDK version 10.0.19041.0 to target Windows 10.0.18363.
Configuring done
Generating done
  1. Open Visual Studio 2019 as an Administrator

  2. Open the Solution file VTK.sln in C:\VTK\build

  3. Change the build type from Debug to Release for speed:

[![Release Mode][31]][31]

  1. Right-click on ALL_BUILD and select Build. In the end, the output is
========== Build: 398 succeeded, 0 failed, 0 up-to-date, 0 skipped ==========
  1. Right-click on INSTALL and select Build. In the end, the output is:
========== Build: 116 succeeded, 0 failed, 283 up-to-date, 0 skipped ==========


Please see problem at top of post.