ESRI ArcSDE Raster

Driver short name


ESRI ArcSDE provides an abstraction layer over numerous databases that allows the storage of raster data. ArcSDE supports n-band imagery at many bit depths, and the current implementation of the GDAL driver should support as many bands as you can throw at it. ArcSDE supports the storage of LZW, JP2K, and uncompressed data and transparently presents this through its C API SDK.

Driver capabilities

Supports Georeferencing

This driver supports georeferencing

GDAL ArcSDE Raster driver features

The current driver supports the following features:

  • Read support only.

  • GeoTransform information for rasters that have defined it.

  • Coordinate reference information.

  • Color interpretation (palette for datasets with colormaps, greyscale otherwise).

  • Band statistics if ArcSDE has cached them, otherwise GDAL will calculate.

  • ArcSDE overview (pyramid) support

  • 1 bit, 4 bit, 8 bit, 16 bit, and 32 bit data

  • IReadBlock support that maps to ArcSDE’s representation of the data in the database.

  • ArcSDE 9.1 and 9.2 SDK’s. Older versions may also work, but they have not been tested.

The current driver does not support the following:

  • Writing GDAL datasets into the database.

  • Large, fast, single-pass reads from the database.

  • Reading from “ESRI ArcSDE Raster Catalogs.”

  • NODATA masks.

Performance considerations

The ArcSDE raster driver currently only supports block read methods. Each call to this method results in a request for a block of raster data for each band of data in the raster, and single-pass requests for all of the bands for a block or given area is not currently done. This approach consequently results in extra network overhead. It is hoped that the driver will be improved to support single-pass reads in the near future.

The ArcSDE raster driver should only consume a single ArcSDE connection throughout the lifespan of the dataset. Each connection to the database has an overhead of approximately 2 seconds, with additional overhead that is taken for calculating dataset information. Therefore, usage of the driver in situations where there is a lot of opening and closing of datasets is not expected to be very performant.

Although the ArcSDE C SDK does support threading and locking, the GDAL ArcSDE raster driver does not utilize this capability. Therefore, the ArcSDE raster driver should be considered not threadsafe, and sharing datasets between threads will have undefined (and often disastrous) results.

Dataset specification

SDE datasets are specified with the following information:,5151,database,username,password,fully.specified.tablename,RASTER
  • SDE: – this is the prefix that tips off GDAL to use the SDE driver.

  • – the DNS name or IP address of the server we are connecting to.

  • 5151 – the port number (5151 or port:5151) or service entry (typically esri_sde).

  • database – the database to connect to. This can also be blank and specified as ,,.

  • username – username.

  • password – password.

  • fully.specified.tablename – It is prudent to use a fully specified tablename wherever possible, although it is not absolutely required.

  • RASTER – Optional raster column name.