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Advances And Advantages Of The Pixel Shader

High-Tech And Vertex Juggling - NVIDIA's New GeForce3 GPU
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We know now that the pixel shader can be programmed in lots of different ways and we have also learned that it requires a lot less memory bandwidth if more than 2 textures are used per pixel. What else can the pixel shader tell us for itself?

Here is a list of GeForce3's new Pixel Shader features:

  • Shadow Mapping
  • Faster texture loads
  • Image convolution, up to 8x8 symmetric kernels
  • 4096x4096 or 512x512x512 textures
  • Cube map sides can be up to 4096 x 4096 x 32 bit
  • YUYV textures (converted to RGB in back end)
  • Full image mode texture support
    Point to any image, e.g. back buffer, and use it directly as texture
  • Border colors and border textures
  • Hardware read/write synchronization
    Allows full pipelining when mixing reads and writes to the same texture map.
    You can render to the back buffer then immediately use it as texture map.
  • Pass through colors
  • DX6 bump environment/luminance mapping (aka 'environment mapped bump mapping')
  • Simple dependent texture, S,T in alpha/red (AB) and blue/green (BG)
  • Isotropic Bi-Directional Reflectance Distribution Function based lighting (BRDF)
  • Dot product based textures for color or Z
  • True reflective bump mapping

You'll admit that this is a lovely long list and still nobody knows what's going on. Since this article is becoming terribly long I will explain only a few of those new features.

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