Simple Models of the Impact of Overlap in Bucket Rendering

Milton Chen, Gordon Stoll, Homan Igehy, Kekoa Proudfoot, and Pat Hanrahan, Stanford University

Appears in the Proceedings of the 1998 Eurographics/SIGGRAPH Workshop on Graphics Hardware


Bucket rendering is a technique in which the framebuffer is subdivided into coherent regions that are rendered independently. The primary benefits of this technique are the decrease in the size of the working set of framebuffer memory required during rendering and the possibility of processing multiple regions in parallel. The drawbacks of this technique are the cost of computing the regions overlapped by each triangle and the redundant work required in processing triangles multiple times when they overlap multiple regions. Tile size is a critical parameter in bucket rendering systems: smaller tile sizes allow smaller memory footprints and better parallel load balancing but exacerbate the problem of redundant computation.

In this paper, we use mathematical models, instrumentation, and trace-driven simulation to evaluate the impact of overlap and conclude that the problem of overlap is limited in scope. If triangles are small, the overlap factor itself is also small. If triangles are large, overlap is high but pixel work dominates the rendering time. In pipelined rendering systems, the worst-case impact of overlap occurs when the area of an input triangle is equal to the area for which the pipeline is balanced-that is, the triangle-related computation time is equal to the pixel-related computation time. Thus, as the current trends of exponentially increasing triangle rate, slowly increasing screen resolution, and increasing per-pixel computation continue to push this balance point toward triangles with smaller area, bucket rendering systems will be able to utilize smaller tiles efficiently.

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