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ANIMAC: A Multiprocessor Architecture for Real-Time Computer Animation


Whelan, Daniel Steven (1985) ANIMAC: A Multiprocessor Architecture for Real-Time Computer Animation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/0qnw-g372.


Advances in integrated circuit technology have been largely responsible for the growth of the computer graphics industry. This technology promises additional growth through the remainder of the century. This dissertation addresses how this future technology can be harnessed and used to construct very high performance real-time computer graphics systems.

This thesis proposes a new architecture for real-time animation engines. The ANIMAC architecture achieves high performance by utilizing a two-dimensional array of processors that determine visible surfaces in parallel. An array of sixteen processors with only nearest neighbor interprocessor communications can produce real-time shadowed images of scenes containing 100, 000 triangles.

The ANIMAC architecture is based upon analysis and simulations of various parallelization techniques. These simulations suggest that the viewing space be spatially subdivided and that each processor produce a visible surface image for several viewing space subvolumes. Simple assignments of viewing space subvolumes to processors are shown to offer high parallel efficiencies.

Simulations of parallel algorithms were driven with data derived from real scenes since analysis of scene composition suggested that using simplistic models of scene composition might lead to incorrect results.

The ANIMAC architecture required the development of a shadowing algorithm which was tailored to its parallel environment. This algorithm separates shadowing into local and foreign effects. Its implementation allows individual processors to compute shadowing effects for their image regions utilizing only very local information.

The design of the ANIMAC processors makes extensive use of new VLSI architectures. A formerly proposed processor per object architecture is used to determine visible surfaces while new processor per object and processor per pixel architectures are used to determine shadowing effects.

It is estimated that the ANIMAC architecture can be realized in the early 1990's. Realizing this architecture will require considerable amounts of hardware and capital yet its cost will not be out of line when compared with today's real-time computer graphics systems.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Computer Science
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Computer Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kajiya, James Thomas
Thesis Committee:
  • Kajiya, James Thomas (chair)
  • Barr, Alan H.
  • Mead, Carver
  • Blinn, Jim
  • Fox, Geoffrey C.
Defense Date:23 May 1985
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)UNSPECIFIED
Silicon Structures ProjectUNSPECIFIED
Rockwell CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-03262008-092532
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:1155
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:04 Apr 2008
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 22:27

Thesis Files

PDF (Whelan_ds_1985.pdf) - Final Version
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