Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Article
  • Published:

High-performance parallel computing for next-generation holographic imaging


Holography is a method of recording and reproducing three-dimensional (3D) images, and the widespread availability of computers has encouraged the development of holographic 3D screens (electroholography). However, the technology has not yet been used in practical applications because a hologram requires an enormous volume of data and modern computing power is inadequate to process this volume of data in real time. Here, we show that a special-purpose holography computing board, which uses eight large-scale field-programmable gate arrays, can be used to generate 108-pixel holograms that can be updated at a video frame rate. With our approach, we achieve a parallel operation of 4,480 hologram calculation circuits on a single board, and by clustering eight of these boards, we can increase the number of parallel calculations to 35,840. Using a 3D image composed of 7,877 points, we show that 108-pixel holograms can be updated at a video rate, thus allowing 3D movies to be projected. We also demonstrate that the system speed scales up in a linear manner as the number of parallel circuits is increased. The system operates at 0.25 GHz with an effective speed equivalent to 0.5 petaflops (1015 floating-point operations per second), matching that of a high-performance computer.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: HORN-8 board.
Fig. 2: HORN-8 pipeline in one FPGA chip.
Fig. 3: Performance of the HORN-8 system.
Fig. 4: Electroholography from the eight-board HORN-8 cluster system.
Fig. 5: Large-scale electroholography by the eight-board HORN-8 cluster system.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Hilaire, P. S. et al. Electronic display system for computational holography. Proc. SPIE 1212, 174–182 (1990).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Lucente, M. Interactive three-dimensional holographic displays: seeing the future in depth. Comp. Graph. 31, 63–67 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Aoshima, K. et al. Submicron magneto-optical spatial light modulation device for holographic displays driven by spin-polarized electrons. J. Disp. Technol. 6, 374–380 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Lucente, M. Interactive computation of holograms using a look-up table. J. Electron. Imaging 2, 28–34 (1993).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Yoshikawa, H., Iwase, S. & Oneda, T. Fast computation of Fresnel holograms employing difference. Proc. SPIE 3956, 48–55 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Nishitsuji, T., Shimobaba, T., Kakue, T. & Ito, T. Review of fast calculation techniques for computer-generated holograms with the point light source-based model. IEEE Trans. Ind. Inform. 13, 2447–2454 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Shimobaba, T., Kakue, T. & Ito, T. Review of fast algorithms and hardware implementations on computer holography. IEEE Trans. Ind. Inform. 12, 1611–1622 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Masuda, N., Ito, T., Tanaka, T., Shiraki, A. & Sugie, T. Computer generated holography using a graphics processing unit. Opt. Express 14, 603–608 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Takada, N. et al. Fast high-resolution computer-generated hologram computation using multiple graphics processing unit cluster system. Appl. Opt. 51, 7303–7307 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Song, J., Park, J., Park, H. & Park, J.-Il Real-time generation of high-definition resolution digital holograms by using multiple graphic processing units. Opt. Eng. 52, 015803 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Watlington, J. A., Lucente, M., Sparrell, C. J., Bove, V. M. Jr & Tamitani, I. A hardware architecture for rapid generation of electro-holographic fringe patterns. Proc. SPIE 2406, 172–183 (1995).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Lucente, M. & Galyean, T. A. Rendering interactive holographic images. Proc. ACM SIGGRAPH 95, 387–394 (1995).

    Google Scholar 

  13. Buckley, E. Real-time error diffusion for signal-to-noise ratio improvement in a holographic projection system. J. Disp. Technol. 7, 70–76 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Seo, Y. H., Choi, H. J., Yoo, J. S. & Kim, D. W. An architecture of a high-speed digital hologram generator based on FPGA. J. Syst. Architect. 56, 27–37 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Masuda, N. et al. Special purpose computer for digital holographic particle tracking velocimetry. Opt. Express 14, 587–592 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Abe, Y. et al. Special purpose computer system for flow visualization using holography technology. Opt. Express 16, 7686–7692 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Masuda, N. et al. Special purpose computer system with highly parallel pipelines for flow visualization using holography technology. Comput. Phys. Commun. 181, 1986–1989 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Cheng, C. J., Hwang, W. J., Chen, C. T. & Lai, X. J. Efficient FPGA-based Fresnel transform architecture for digital holography. J. Disp. Technol. 10, 272–281 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Ito, T., Yabe, T., Okazaki, M. & Yanagi, M. Special-purpose computer HORN-1 for reconstruction of virtual image in three dimensions. Comp. Phys. Commun. 82, 104–110 (1994).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Ito, T. et al. Special-purpose computer for holography HORN-2. Comp. Phys. Commun. 93, 13–20 (1996).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Shimobaba, T. et al. Special-purpose computer for holography HORN-3 with PLD technology. Comp. Phys. Commun. 130, 75–82 (2000).

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  22. Shimobaba, T. & Ito, T. Special-purpose computer for holography HORN-4 with recurrence algorithm. Comp. Phys. Commun. 148, 160–170 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Ito, T. et al. A special-purpose computer HORN-5 for a real-time electroholography. Opt. Express 13, 1923–1932 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Ichihashi, Y. et al. HORN-6 special-purpose clustered computing system for electroholography. Opt. Express 17, 13895–13903 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Okada, N. et al. Special-purpose computer HORN-7 with FPGA technology for phase modulation type electroholography. IDW/AD’12 Proc. Int. Display Workshops 3Dp-26 (Society for Information Display, 2012).

  26. Ito, T. & Shimobaba, T. One-unit system for electroholography by use of a special-purpose computational chip with a high-resolution liquid-crystal display toward a three-dimensional television. Opt. Express 12, 1788–1793 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Shimobaba, T., Shiraki, T., Masuda, N. & Ito, T. Electroholographic display unit for three-dimensional display by use of special-purpose computational chip for holography and reflective LCD panel. Opt. Express 13, 4196–4201 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Ichikawa, T., Yamaguchi, K. & Sakamoto, Y. Realistic expression for full-parallax computer-generated holograms with the ray-tracing method. Appl. Opt. 52, A201–A209 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Pan, Y. et al. Fast CGH computation using S-LUT on GPU. Opt. Express 17, 18543–18555 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Matsushima, K. & Nakahara, S. Extremely high-definition full-parallax computer-generated hologram created by the polygon-based method. Appl. Opt. 48, H54–H63 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Ogihara, Y., Ichikawa, T. & Sakamoto, Y. Fast calculation with point based method to make CGHs of the polygon model. Proc. SPIE 9006, 90060T–90061T (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Chen, J.-S., Chu, D. & Smithwick, Q. Rapid hologram generation utilizing layer-based approach and graphic rendering for realistic three-dimensional image reconstruction by angular tiling. J. Electron. Imaging 23, 023016 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Chen, J.-S. & Chu, D. P. Improved layer-based method for rapid hologram generation and real-time interactive holographic display applications. Opt. Express 23, 18143–18155 (2015).

    Article  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  34. Shimobaba, T. & Ito, T. An efficient computational method suitable for hardware of computer-generated hologram with phase computation by addition. Comp. Phys. Commun. 138, 44–52 (2001).

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  35. Nishitsuji, T., Shimobaba, T., Kakue, T., Arai, D. & Ito, T. Simple and fast cosine approximation method for computer-generated hologram calculation. Opt. Express 23, 32465–32470 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Niwase, H. et al. Real-time spatiotemporal division multiplexing electroholography with a single graphics processing unit utilizing movie features. Opt. Express 22, 28052–28057 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Shimobaba, T. et al. Computational wave optics library for C++: CWO++ library. Comput. Phys. Commun. 183, 1124–1138 (2012).

    Article  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant-in-Aid No. 25240015).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



T.I. planed the project. T.Sugie and T.I designed the HORN-8 board, and T.Sugie and M.O. developed it. T.A., T.Sugie and T.I. designed the circuit of the HORN-8 system, and T.A. implemented it to FPGA. R.H., H.N., T.Sugie, T.A, T.Shimobaba and T.I. evaluated the HORN-8 system. H.N. and R.H. created 3D models for holography. T.N., N.T., Y.E., N.M. and T.Shimobaba developed the supported algorithms for the HORN-8 system. Y.I., A.S. and T.K. built the optical system. All authors contributed to the discussions and reviewed the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tomoyoshi Ito.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Video 1

Real-time optical reconstruction of electroholography from the eight-board HORN-8 cluster system. The image was reconstructed from a 2-million-pixel hologram with 6.5-μm pixel pitch.

Supplementary Video 2

Simulation of a wide field-of-view electroholography from the eight-board HORN-8 cluster system. The image was computationally reconstructed from a 100-million-pixel hologram with 1-μm pixel pitch. The viewing angle of the hologram is approximately 30°.

Supplementary Video 3

Large-scale electroholographic image obtained using the eight-board HORN-8 cluster system. A 100-million-pixel hologram was generated from a 10-million-point object and reconstructed via simulation. The object data were divided into 160 blocks, and a separate hologram was prepared for each. These were then reconstructed by the time-division method to obtain a single still image.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sugie, T., Akamatsu, T., Nishitsuji, T. et al. High-performance parallel computing for next-generation holographic imaging. Nat Electron 1, 254–259 (2018).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing AI and Robotics

Sign up for the Nature Briefing: AI and Robotics newsletter — what matters in AI and robotics research, free to your inbox weekly.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing: AI and Robotics