Frank Blecha


Education: Bachelor of Science in computing and information sciences (May 1999)

Currently pursuing an Master of Business Administration from New Mexico State University

McNair Project: The Application of Vector Processing and Other Methods to Accelerate 3D Ray Intersection Determination (1998)

Mentor: Daniel Andresen, Ph.D.

The phenomenal success of the movie 'Toy Story' and other computer- generated special effects scenes has generated an enormous interest in efficient means for generating accurate 3D images. One popular technique, ray tracing, generates an image by shooting an imaginary ray through the scene. By determining where and at what angle the ray hits an object in the scene, an accurate color and shading can be chosen. Millions of such ray/object intersection calculations are made for each image. In our studies we used several optimizations to construct an application that was significantly faster for this task.

Symmetric multiprocessing, using a dual processor system, was exploited early in our studies and was responsible for significant gains in execution speed. Vector processing, which was previously only available to supercomputer users, was another method used to accelerate our application. It is an inviting acceleration technique for algorithms that evaluate a series of mutually independent operations and is possible today using Intel's MMX technology. Restructuring of the source code was necessary to take advantage of the enhanced MMX instruction set. We also aggressively managed memory resources using hierarchical tiling, which reduced the performance degradation incurred with memory access, while increasing program performance by explicitly controlling the data movement in the memory hierarchy.

Through combining techniques in computer graphics and parallel scientific supercomputing, we diminish the rendering time associated with ray traced images by increasing the speed of the our application by 99%. We feel these results have the potential for widespread interests in both communities.