Multicore and GPU Programming for Video Games

Multicore and GPU Programming for Video Games

Many thanks to NVIDIA and ATI
for donating graphics cards for our Klaus 1446


  • 12/1, 1:47 AM: Videos for Sessions 21 and 22.
  • Suggested links added to HW #5 writeup.


When and where: Fall 2010, MWF 1:35-2:55, Van Leer C456

Aaron Lanterman

Old webpages:
Fall 2007,
Fall 2008
(more complete set of posted videos than the 2009 website),
Fall 2009
(didn’t get around to posting all the videos, but still some good stuff)

Course description: 3-D graphics pipelines. Real-time simulation
concerns. GPU architectures. Graphics APIs. Shaders. Multicore programming
on symmetric and asymmetric architectires. SIMD and DMA programming.

Any one of the following is sufficient:
ECE3035-Mechanisms for Computation
or ECE3090-Software
Fundamentals for Engineering Systems
or CS2110-Computer Organization and Programming
or CS2261-Media Device Architecture.
Students must be comfortable with C programming.
To be widely accessible to ECE students, no background in computer
graphics will be required.
A lot of the course will use C#, but
we will not assume that you’ve seen C# before, and hence will do an
introductory lecture on C#. (If you’ve seen Java, C++, or
any other “curly-brace” language, you’ve pretty much seen them all.)

Course objective:
This class provides the multicore and GPU programming skills
needed to meet timely demands of the multimedia, visualization,
and gaming industries. The course also bridges the gap between
our current generic computer architecture courses and the video
game design courses offered by CoC and LCC. The class covers
state-of-the-art GPU and multicore
architectures from
application and hardware design perspectives. The course considers
programming models using examples from the algorithmic needs of
modern 3-D games (e.g. geometry processing, shading algorithms,
physical modeling, collision detection, and artificial intelligence).

Note that as of present, the course does not cover CUDA or OpenCL; I want
to say that up front since this has disappointed students in the past.
My reasoning is that such technologies are not available on the Xbox 360
and the Playstation 3, which dominate AAA game sales figures, and
even on the PC, the market has not gotten to the point where game developers
can generally assume that there is enough of a critical mass of PCs
equipped with such technologies to make it worth putting significant
effort into developing for them. (Also, there are several other classes
at Tech that cover things like CUDA, OpenCL, etc., particularly in
a scientific computing context where they are quite useful; for this
class to stand out, I want to specifically focus on the GPU’s “native
context” of video games.)

Students will be expected to
undertake several assignments to gain real programming experience on
the Cell processor, the Xbox 360, and NVIDIA or ATI graphics cards.
and ATI have made donations of several boards to support our class projects.
The IBM Center of Competence at Georgia Tech also has generously provided
access to their Cell blade system.
There may also be a few short essay-type (around 1/2 page) questions and
“pencil and paper” exercises.
The final letter grade will be based on performance on these projects and
exercises. Various assignments may have different weights in the final grade
these weights will be noted on each assignment. Most of the
assignments will be individual assignments; however, to practically
accommodate the large
class size this semester, a few of them may provide the
option to work in groups of two (such assignments may still be completed
individually if you prefer to work alone).

This is a class on programming, so even
on team assignments, you
should feel confident that you could complete an assignment on
your own if you needed to.
The “ground rules” for each assignment,
which may vary from assignment to assignment, will be given in each
assignment description. Please ask if any aspects of the given “ground
rules” seem unclear.

There will be no traditional paper-and-pencil exams, either midterms or
finals. This is a class about programming; my philosophy is that any
time you would spend taking or studying for such exams is better spent
in front of a computer actually programming!

Further information



See previous years’ websites if you want to get a sense
of what sorts of things we’ll be getting into later in the semester.
Everything is subject change
as we work to inject additional awesomeness into the class.