CloudLightning: The Opportunity for Image Rendering

Ray tracing is widely used in image processing applications, such as the development of an image from a 3D scene, by tracing the trajectories of light rays through pixels in a view plane. It is commonly used in fields such as digital animation. In recent years, the advancement of high performance computing and new algorithms enabled processing of large amount of computational tasks in a much smaller time. As a consequence, ray tracing became a potential application for interactive visualisations. Ray tracing is commonly referred to as an embarrassingly parallelisable algorithm and is naturally implemented in multicore shared memory systems and distributed systems.

Ray tracing has applications in a wide variety of industries including:

  • Image rendering for high resolution and 3D images for the animation and gaming industry;
  • Human blockage modelling in radio wave propagation studies and for general indoor radio signal prediction;
  • Atmospheric radio wave propagation;
  • Modelling solar concentrators designs to investigate performance and efficiency;
  • Modelling laser ablation profiles in the treatment of high myopic astigmatism to assess the efficacy, safety, and predictability;
  • Development of improved ultrasonic array imaging techniques in anisotropic materials;
  • Ultrasonic imaging is commonly used in inspection regimes e.g. weld inspections;
  • Modelling LED illumination systems.

These industries have significant scale and increasingly rely on computationally intensive image processing; accelerated by innovations in consumer electronics e.g. HDTV, 3D TV, etc. A variety ray tracing libraries exist that are optimised for MIC and GPU platforms are currently available e.g. Intel Embree and NVIDIA Optix.

The use case will focus on the use of these libraries with the CloudLightning environment for rendering sample digital media content with a specific focus on performance of the CloudLightning environment compared against standalone cloud configurations. This use case will also develop an understanding of how cloud operators can appropriately leverage heterogeneous clouds to enable new services based on tracing applications thus extending the impact beyond the animation sector.

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