Massive Model Ray Tracing Techniques

Andreas Dietrich
Computer Graphics Group, Saarland University, Germany, September 2010




Over the last decades, the size and complexity of 3D datasets that are being produced in many scientific and engineering disciplines, has been exponentially increasing. Although there has been tremendous progress in graphics hardware performance, the continued growth in scene complexity prohibits interactive rendering of massive models with standard methods. In recent years, real-time ray tracing has become a viable alternative to triangle rasterization algorithms, which are implemented in today’s graphics hardware. This dissertation explores the application of real-time ray tracing techniques to various aspects of large model visualization.

We first describe the design of a complete massive model rendering system, suitable for the interactive display of fully-detailed polygonal models of hundreds of millions of primitives. Particularly, we present an efficient out-of-core rendering framework, techniques to employ simplified model representations to hide I/O latencies, and the integration of sophisticated shading and visualization methods.

Another part of this thesis deals with the interactive photo-realistic display of procedurally described natural landscapes with a complexity of trillions of potentially visible polygons. Finally, we propose a light-weight and highly efficient illumination caching scheme. It avoids costly recomputation of global lighting effects in every frame by caching the results of illumination computations, and reusing them in successive frames.