SIGGRAPH 1992 Computer Graphics Achievement Award: Fuchs

  • ©1992, Henry Fuchs



    Computer Graphics Achievement Award


    The 1992 SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award is presented to Dr. Henry Fuchs for his contributions to high performance, parallel display architecture. He was a pioneer who recognized the importance of parallelism for graphics processors and provided leadership to achieve a practical implementation of massively parallel high speed display processors – Pixel-Planes.

    Increasing the performance of the hardware, upon which we depend so much, has been a vital ingredient, even a driving force, in Computer Graphics. Through an ongoing series of projects spanning the past fifteen years, Fuchs has contributed significantly to the goal of achieving truly interactive 3D graphics through work on the hardware for real-time rendering. In particular, he advanced the state of the architecture of image displays through the innovative use of parallelism. Among his numerous publications we find the initial paper showing the use of multiple processors working on a visible surface algorithm [1977]. In a subsequent paper [1979] with Brian Johnson, he outlined a parallel display architecture in which individual processors are interleaved on a pixel-by-pixel basis, and in which multiple memory units can be variably mapped to processors.

    This organization overcame the pitfalls of the one obvious scheme whereby a z-buffer is partitioned into contiguous regions. It reduced image memory contention and avoided usage imbalances when objects in a scene are unevenly distributed over the screen. Furthermore, this architecture easily permitted processors to be added to obtain improved performance.

    His early work introducing the use of a binary space partitioning tree [1980] also contributed to the development of the Pixel-Planes architecture [1981]. By introducing the idea of Pixel-Planes, an elegant scheme for simultaneously evaluating a linear expression at every pixel in an image, he launched a series of practical experiments to explore the potential of massively parallel display system elements. Five generations of chips and three successively more powerful VLSI implementations of high speed research display systems were been built using PixelPlanes rasterizers.

    The most recent machine called Pixel-Planes 5 [1989], developed under the direction of Fuchs and John Poulton, is a test-bed for evaluati11g design alternatives. The radically different architecture of this display system extends it well beyond the implied meaning of the label “Pixel-Planes.” Although the PixelPlanes rasterizer is an element of the system, the significance of its design is that it promotes exploration of the issues of paralleling all elements of the display process, not just the polygon tiling.

    Henry Fuchs obtained his Ph. D. in Computer Science from  the University of Utah in 1975. After graduation he joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Dallas as Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences. He has been a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1978 where he is Federico Gil Professor of Computer Science. As an indication of his cross-disciplinary interests, he was Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Computer Science, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (1979-82) and since 1988 is Adjunct Professor of Radiation Oncology at UNC School of Medicine. In addition, he has been an active consultant and advisor to industry and been a leader in many workshops and technical advisory panels.

    The ideas developed in Fuchs’s research over the past fifteen years have had a significant impact on the design of high performance display systems. The research team that he has assembled continues to work towards innovative approaches for solving increasingly massive problems using parallel display systems. SIGGRAPH recognizes Henry Fuchs for his singular contributions to high performance, parallel display architectures as well as for his other ongoing contributions to Computer Graphics by presenting him the Computer Graphics Achievement Award.


    ACM SIGGRAPH Press Release, 1992