“High-performance polygon rendering” by Akeley and Jermoluk

  • ©Kurt Akeley and Tom Jermoluk




    High-performance polygon rendering



    This paper describes a system architecture for realtime display of shaded polygons. Performance of 100,000 lighted, 4-sided polygons per second is achieved. Vectors and points draw at the rate of 400,000 per second. High-speed pan and zoom, alpha blending, realtime video input, and antialiased lines are supported. The architecture heavily leverages parallelism in several forms: pipeline, vector, and array processing. It is unique in providing efficient and balanced graphics that support interactive design and manipulation of solid models. After an overview of algorithms and computational requirements, we describe the details of the implementation. Finally, the unique features enabled by the architecture are highlighted.


    1. Bresenham, J. Algorithm for Computer Control of a Digital Plotter. IBM Systems Journal 4, 1 (1965), 25-30.
    2. Clark, Jim and Hannah, Marc. Distributed Processing in a High- Performance Smart Image Memory. Lambda 1, 3 (4th Quarter 1980), 40-45.
    3. Clark, Jim. The Geometry Engine, A VLSI Geometry System for Graphics. Computer Graphics (ACM) 16, 3 (1982), 127.
    4. Crow, Frank. The Aliasing Problem in Computer-Generated Shaded Images. Communications of the ACM 20, November 1977, 799-805.
    5. Fuchs, Henry and Johnson, B. An Expandable Multiproeessor Architecture for Video Graphics. Proceedings of the 6th ACM-IEEE Symposium on Computer Architecture (April 1979), 58-67.
    6. Gouraud, H. Continuous Shading of Curved Surfaces. IEEE Transactions on Computers C-20, 6 (June, 1971), 623-629.
    7. Gupta, Safish and Sproull, Robert. Filtering Edges for Gray-Scale Displays. Technical Report, Carnegie-Mellon University, Computer Science Department, 1981.
    8. Porter, Thomas and Duff, Tom. Compositing Digital Images. Proceedings of SIGGRAPH’84 (Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 23-27, 1984). In Computer Graphics 18, 3 (July 1984), 253-259.
    9. Silicon Graphics. IRIS 4D/70 Superworkstation Technical Report. Silicon Graphics, Mountain View, CA 1987.
    10. Sutherland, Ivan and Hodgman, Gary. Reentrant Polygon Clipping. Communications oftheACM 17, 1 (January 1974), 32.
    11. Swanson, Roger and Thayer, Larry. A Fast Shaded-Polygon Renderer. Proceedings of SIGGRAPH’86 (Dallas, Texas, August 18-22, 1986). In Computer Graphics 20, 4 (August 1986), 95-101.
    12. Torborg, John. A Parallel Processor Architecture for Graphics Arithmetic Operations. Proceedings of SIGGRAPH’87 (Anaheim, California, July 27-31, 1987). In Computer Graphics 21, 4 (July 1987), 197-204.

ACM Digital Library Publication: