GPU accelerated procedural terrain generation : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Master of Science in Computer Science at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
Virtual terrain is often used as the large scale background of computer graphics scenes. While virtual terrain is essential for representing landscapes, manual reproduction of such large-scale objects from scratch is time-consuming and costly for human artists. Many algorithmic generation methods have been proposed as an alternative solution to manual reproduction. However, those methods are still limited when needing them to be employed in a wide range of applications. Alternatively, simulation of the stream power equation can effectively model landscape evolution at large temporal and spatial scales by simulating the land-forming process. This equation was successfully employed by a previous study in terrain generation. However, the unoptimised pipeline implementation of the method suffers from long computation time on the increased simulation size. Graphics processing units (GPUs) provide significantly higher computational throughput for massively parallel problems over conventional multi-core CPUs. The previous study proposed a general parallel algorithm to compute the simulation pipeline, but is design for any multi-core hardware and does not fully utilise the computing power of GPUs. This study seeks to develop an optimised pipeline of the original stream power equation method for GPUs. Results showed that the new parallel GPU algorithm consistently had higher performance (about 300% for GTX 780 and 900% for RTX 2070 Super) recent octa-core CPU (Intel i7 9700k 4.9 Ghz). It also consistently showed a 300% improvement in performance over the previous parallel algorithm on GPUs. The new algorithm significantly outperformed the fastest parallel algorithm available, while still being able to produce the same terrain result as the original stream power equation method. This advancement in computational performance allows the algorithm method to generate precise geological details of terrain while providing reasonable computation time for the method to be employed in a broader range of applications.