Institute for Computer Applications in Science and Engineering; NASA Langley Research Center
Hampton, VA 23681-0001
In computer graphics, rendering is the process by which an abstract description of a scene is converted to an image. When the scene is complex, or when high-quality images or high frame rates are required, the rendering process becomes computationally demanding. To provide the necessary levels of performance, parallel computing techniques must be brought to bear. Although parallelism has been exploited in computer graphics since the early days of the field, its initial use was primarily in specialized applications. The VLSI revolution of the late 1970's and the advent of scalable parallel computers during the late 1980's changed this situation. Today, parallel hardware is routinely used in graphics workstations, and numerous software-based rendering systems have been developed for general-purpose parallel architectures. This article provides a broad introduction to the subject of parallel rendering, encompassing both hardware and software systems. The focus is on the underlying concept...