Muiris Woulfe, Analogue Dynamics Engine (ADE), Trinity College Dublin, 2005
This report outlines the design and implementation of the Analogue Dynamics Engine (ADE). The ADE is a physics engine constructed from a hybrid, analogue and digital, computer. Software physics engines are becoming increasingly common in computer games, and the ADE was designed as a hardware equivalent to these software engines. Analogue computers, although currently rare, have useful properties such as their ability to evaluate functions in realtime. The physics engine exploits this functionality while using digital components to provide reconfigurability. The core hybrid computer was constructed by connecting twenty nine custom designed reconfigurable analogue cells to thirty two bus lines, using programmable interconnect. Each cell can perform inversion, integration, addition and multiplication. At the periphery of this computer lie two ADCs and two DACs, so that the hybrid computer may provide a digital interface. In order to make the engine suitable for use with games, it was decided to make simulations multiplexable, so that multiple simulations could be run “concurrently”. This requires simulations to be executed faster than real-time. Additionally, state must be saved and restored, which was achieved through replicating the capacitors. Finally, this report analyses the viability of this project for use in computer games. Ultimately, it was determined that an analogue computer could become a viable replacement for the software physics engines in use today. In fact, it offers benefits that cannot be obtained using today’s software physics engines.
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