During IAP of 2007, I took 6.189, a multicore programming course. The point of the class was to explore applications of the Playstation 3’s Cell processor to multicore tasks. I learned a lot about the specifics of the Power architecture, and got very cosy with the PS3’s 8 slave processors.
My project for the class was to write a parallelized realtime raytracer. In 23 days, my team put together a very decent raytracer with reflection, refraction, generated material texturing using Perlin noise, and enhanced material shading with BRDF and traditional shading models. Running our demo with 3 ray bounces on a moderately complex scene achieved over 20 frames per second with 6 active cores, along with linear speedup properties.
We won the competition, and Sony invited us to be their guest speakers to the 2007 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. We gave an hour long talk about our project and the uses of the PS3 in the academic community.