CUTC showcases ‘technologies that suspend disbelief’


Blurring the distinction between gee-whiz fiction and experienced reality is one of the goals of innovative technologies, according to AMD executive Rick Bergman.

“Suspension of disbelief is the goal,” said Bergman during his keynote at the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference (CUTC). The three-day conference kicked off Thursday in Toronto and is expected to attract around 500 students from across the country.

The event is a forum to discuss innovative technologies and new and potential research channels.

The challenge of innovation is the ability to simulate a three-dimensional world of infinite size and detail within a digital one where data is stored and processed in finite amounts, said Bergman, who is senior vice-president of the graphics products group at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD.

Speaking specifically about the fast-evolving gaming industry, Bergman said the challenge there is creating “real-time reality” where images change immediately in response to gamers’ actions.

AMD sought to demonstrate how this can be done in a techshop, led by Michael Lui, product specialist at AMD.

For instance, a couple of gaming demos showed physics processors at work to render greater collision detection and realistic-looking smoke. (A physics processor is a dedicated microprocessor designed to handle the calculations of physics, especially in video games).

In an interview with IT World Canada, Lui spoke of other AMD technologies that support virtual reality, including a “high-dynamic range” feature that renders realistic light, such as the sun’s glow emanating from behind an object or person, and anti-aliasing that eliminates non-linear edges.

“It’s all about picture quality,” said Lui. “If you had to play a game where everything had jagged lines around it, it just wouldn’t look right.”

A demo of CrossFire chipset models had to be cancelled because of technical difficulties.

The ensemble of techshops, seminars and keynote speakers at this year’s CUTC reflects the conference’s goal of targeting new and innovative markets, said Rohit Gupta, co-chair of CUTC 2007.

CUTC has always been the Mecca to showcase innovative technologies, Gupta told IT World Canada. However, this time, the conference was also designed as a more business-oriented forum.

Pioneering technologies borne out of science also featured in a keynote by Nobel prize winner John Polanyi, who is a professor at the University of Toronto’s department of chemistry.

Polanyi talked about his research into how atoms behave during chemical reactions at surfaces, as well as his discovery that he could “xerox” or print molecular-level patterns.

This capability, Polanyi explained, could be used to build objects at the molecular level. It’s a discovery that would cause a technological revolution comparable with the arrival of the computer, he said.

“IBM and HP would happily pay half a billion dollars if you could make a flat two-dimensional circuit of molecular-sized components.”

Keynote speakers at this year’s CUTC include executives from Intel Canada, Lenovo Group and Google.


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