Aim of this application-oriented research and development project was the integration of Ray Tracing in interactive environments for medical visualization and the product engineering and design review process. In order to achieve real-time framerates we used the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell BE), in the shape of a PlayStation 3 cluster connected through gigabit ethernet. The Cell BE was designed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba and combines a 64bit Power processor core with eight specialized Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). These SPEs are conneted with a high-bandwidth bus, the Element Interconnect Bus. If programmed properly, the Cell BE is able to unfold its high computational power regarding floating point operations, which is of great interest for ray tracing-based methods.
With IBM as a project partner, issues with the new architecture and the fact that programmers first have to get used to how to optimally design for it can be solved. The designed system for global illumination can be used as a stand-alone solution as well as a modular component in a framework for virtual environments. This means that it is not only a demonstration of what is technically possible, but furthermore a component which is mostly ready for productive use.
This project lasted from 2007 to 2010. During this time, several aspects of ray tracing on the Cell BE have been looked into, some of them listed here:
- Performance hit of tracing incoherent vs. coherent rays in packet and packetless tracing with various packet sizes and recursion depths: Streamed Ray Tracing of Single Rays on the Cell Processor
- Efficient construction and update of the Bounding Interval Hierarchy for interactive applications with dynamic scenes
- Cluster Ray Tracing: Ray Tracing on a Cell Cluster for Virtual Environments
Results are shown in the following gallery:
Contact: Prof. Dr. André Hinkenjann, Florian Mannuß
Videos: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3
Partners: VRmagic Holding AG, Mannheim, IBM Deutschland GmbH, Böblingen
This project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)