Hardware-accelerated global illumination by image space photon mapping

December 22, 2009

Research presented in a paper by Morgan McGuire, assistant professor of computer science at Williams College, and co-author Dr. David Luebke of NVIDIA, introduces a new algorithm to improve computer graphics for video games.

McGuire and Luebke have developed a new method for computerizing lighting and light sources that will allow to approach film quality.

Their paper "Hardware-Accelerated Global Illumination by Image Space Photon Mapping" won a Best Paper award at the 2009 Conference on High Performance Graphics.

Because video games must compute images more quickly than movies, developers have struggled with maximizing graphic quality.

Producing light effects involves essentially pushing light into the 3D world and pulling it back to the pixels of the final image. The method created by McGuire and Luebke reverses the process so that light is pulled onto the world and pushed into the image, which is a faster process.

As video games continue to increase the degree of interactivity, graphics processors are expected to become 500 times faster than they are now. McGuire and Luebke's is well suited to the quickened processing speed, and is expected to be featured in video games within the next two years.

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