IDF Spring 2007 – Tera-Scale Computing and its Uses

In our final item from IDF, we take a look at how a Tera-Scale chip is put together and some of the uses for the technology.

The Tera-scale chip isn’t based in Intel x86 architecture but rather SIMD so the software has had to be custom coded. Engineer Jason, (as opposed to Bob the Builder), said that it would be quite exciting if it could all be based on low cost Core 2 chips but the Tera-scale design is very likely to inform future mainstream chips.

In terms of something that Intel is actually working on, it presented Soccer Sport Analytics. This is a program that analyses the game and creates highlights automatically for the later consumption. Each player in the game, the referee and the ball is tracked and it analyses visual features such as the colour histogram and audio features such as the commentators voice, the referee whistle and crowd reaction, which are often associated with major incidents such as free kicks and goals.

However, as impressive as it all sounds, Cyberlink already has software that will do that same thing. When I put this to the Intel team, the engineer assured me that its technology is a lot more accurate and while I’m sure that’s true, does it really need Tera-scale levels of technology to be effective?

The other usage that was on show was for video image reconstruction. This consists of four parts, Motion Stabilisation, Super-Resolution, Frame-Rate Interpolation and Conversion, and MPEG artefact removal.

Motion Stabilisation enables things like camera shake to be removed, while this and artefact removal can make low resolution video actually watchable. This was demoed on the stand and the end results were impressive. Also shown was Super Resolution, which makes a low res image readable. What was key is level of accuracy in the interpolated information, using Tera-scale power to conduct Motion Estimation and Beyesian analysis. A couple of suggested uses was improving video from camera phones and for turning SD footage into HD quality material. I like the sound of this as my wedding video was recorded onto VHS, as back in the day DVD was too new fangled and expensive and in later years the 240 lines of resolution of the original source is going to look decidedly ropey. While this can of course all be done with current computers but it would be far quicker and more accessible with Tera-scale power behind it.

What can’t be done by current computers is real-time Ray Tracing. This is a lighting technique used by the movie industry in animated features by the likes of Pixar and is one of those ‘Holy Grails’ of the 3D graphics industry. Tera-scale level processing could bring Ray Tracing in real times to games – bring it on!

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