Patent Number: 6,674,430

Title: Apparatus and method for real-time volume processing and universal 3Drendering

Abstract: An apparatus and method for real-time volume processing and universalthree-dimensional rendering. The apparatus includes a plurality ofthree-dimensional (3D) memory units; at least one pixel bus for providingglobal horizontal communication; a plurality of rendering pipelines; atleast one geometry bus; and a control unit. The plurality of renderingpipelines each preferably include hardware for interpolation, shading,FIFO buffering, communication and table lookups. The apparatus of thepresent invention may be coupled to a geometry pipeline for mixingsurfaces, images and volumes together in a single image. A method forperforming volumetric ray casting of a 3D volume includes the steps ofcalculating a distance along a major projection axis from a predefinedviewpoint; dividing the volume into a plurality of consecutive regionshaving exponentially increasing bounds; casting a plurality of rays fromthe viewpoint through the volume; either merging two or more rays orsplitting one or more rays at the region boundaries; and repeating the raycasting and merging/splitting steps until the entire volume has beenprocessed. The apparatus and methods of the present invention achieve truereal-time performance for high-resolution volume rendering, mixingsurfaces and volumes in a single image, and accelerating other imagingoperations, including texture mapping and image-based rendering.

Inventors: Kaufman; Arie (Plainview, NY), Bitter; Ingmar (Stony Brook, NY), Chen; Baoquan (Stony Brook, NY), Dachille; Frank (Bayport, NY), Kreeger; Kevin (Port Jefferson, NY)

Assignee:

International Classification: G06T 15/00 (20060101); G06T 017/00 ()

Expiration Date: 01/02016