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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Programmable Graphics: The future of Interactive Rendering

  • Author(s): Pharr, Matt
  • Lefohn, Aaron
  • Kolb, Craig
  • Lalonde, Paul
  • Foley, Tim
  • Berry, Geoff
  • et al.

Recent innovations in computer hardware architecture -- the arrival of multi-core CPUs, the generalization of graphics processing units (GPUs), and the imminent increase in bandwidth available between CPU and GPU cores -- make a new era of interactive graphics possible. As a result of these changes, game consoles, PCs and laptops will have the potential to provide unprecedented levels of visual richness, realism, and immersiveness, making interactive graphics a compelling killer app for these modern computer systems. However, current graphics programming models and APIs, which were conceived of and developed for the previous generation of GPU-only rendering pipelines, severely hamper the type and quality of imagery that can be produced on these systems. Fulfilling the promise of programmable graphics -- the new era of cooperatively using the CPU, GPU, and complex, dynamic data structures to efficiently synthesize images -- requires new programming models, tools, and rendering systems that are designed to take full advantage of these new parallel heterogeneous architectures.

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