TIBURON, CA — The SIGGRAPH Conference, a gathering of people and companies in the computer graphics field, is a joyful expression of our desire to re-create the beauty, wonder, and even dread in the world we see around us. At SIGGRAPH, people share what they've learned, and learn from others, because the goal is huge. It's nothing less than to create the tools to translate the visual into the digital.
The first SIGGRAPH conference was in Boulder, Colorado, in 1974, and 600 people attended. At the time, the fledgling, and poorly defined, industry was estimated to be worth $540 million dollars (the equivalent in today's dollars would be $2.3 billion).
Although growth through the recession was slow, there has been growth. It has been driven by the scientific and entertainment fields. These two seemingly incompatible realms of study enrich each other with new points of view. Looking forward, the computer graphics industry as a whole will enjoy even greater growth than some of its component industries.
CG market growth from 1974.
Computer graphics as realized in special effects in movies and TV, computer games, advertising, and product designs is a combination of advanced hardware and software. Advanced development software has successfully exploited recent advances in multi-core processors, in the form of traditional x86 CPUs, and massively parallel processor GPUs. From the development of 3D CAD models, to special effects like smoke and hair, and physically accurate images generated by raytracing, computer graphics has come to permeate all aspect of our lives and entertainment.
However, at the same time, it is difficult to explain computer graphics in simple terms—CG isn't a thing like a nut or bolt; rather, it's a tool kit, and it's also the end result of the use of the tools.
The computer graphics market remains healthy and robust.
JPR, with its ongoing work studying the hardware and software used in computer graphics, is in a unique position to provide a snapshot of the computer graphics industry. The evolution in computer graphics hardware enables more people to appreciate, and, if they want to, create their own works of graphic art on the computer. It has been a long road, but low-cost processors are enabling more and more people to work with computer graphics. There is an even larger group of people who have come to appreciate the ability of computers to communicate incredible amounts of information and emotion through visual data.
In addition to the basic elements of CG, such as the hardware and software that have gone into the market analysis shown here, there are adjacent industries, such as schools that teach CG, and visualization and design laboratories, where everything from airplanes and automobile to tooth brushes and mobile phones are developed.
Dr. Jon Peddie has been active in the graphics and multimedia fields for more than 30 years. Jon Peddie Research is a technically oriented multimedia and graphics research and consulting firm. Based in Tiburon, California, JPR provides consulting, research, and other specialized services to technology companies in a variety of fields including graphics development, multimedia for professional applications and consumer electronics, high-end computing, and Internet-access product development. Jon Peddie's “Market Watch” is a quarterly report focused on the market activity of PC graphics controllers for notebook and desktop computing.