Specular Effects on the GPU: State of the Art

Laszlo Szirmay-Kalos, Tamas Umenhoffer, Gustavo Patow, Laszlo Szecsi, Mateu Sbert
Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, Magyar Tudosok krt. 2., H-1117, HUNGARY
Computer Graphics Forum, Vol. 28, No. 6., pp. 1586-1617


   title={Specular Effects on the GPU: State of the Art},

   author={Szirmay-Kalos, L. and Umenhoffer, T. and Patow, G. and Sz{‘e}csi, L. and Sbert, M.},

   booktitle={Computer Graphics Forum},






   organization={Wiley Online Library}


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This survey reviews algorithms that can render specular, i.e. mirror reflections, refractions, and caustics on the GPU. We establish a taxonomy of methods based on the three main different ways of representing the scene and computing ray intersections with the aid of the GPU, including ray tracing in the original geometry, ray tracing in the sampled geometry, and geometry transformation. Having discussed the possibilities of implementing ray tracing, we consider the generation of single reflections/refractions, inter-object multiple reflections/refractions, and the general case which also includes self reflections or refractions. Moving the focus from the eye to the light sources, caustic effect generation approaches are also examined.
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