Rendering Complex Scenes with Memory-Coherent Ray Tracing

Matt Pharr, Craig Kolb, Reid Gershbein, and Pat Hanrahan, Stanford University
To appear in Proceedings of SIGGRAPH '97


Simulating realistic lighting and rendering complex scenes are usually considered separate problems with incompatible solutions. Accurate lighting calculations are typically performed using ray tracing algorithms, which require that the entire scene database reside in memory to perform well. Conversely, most systems capable of rendering complex scenes use scan-conversion algorithms that access memory coherently, but are unable to incorporate sophisticated illumination. We have developed algorithms that use caching and lazy creation of texture and geometry to manage scene complexity. To improve cache performance, we increase locality of reference by dynamically reordering the rendering computation based on the contents of the cache. We have used these algorithms to compute images of scenes containing millions of primitives, while storing ten percent of the scene description in memory. Thus, a machine of a given memory capacity can render realistic scenes that are an order of magnitude more complex than was previously possible.

Additional Information Available: