High-Tech And Vertex Juggling - NVIDIA's New GeForce3 GPU

Advances And Advantages Of The Pixel Shader

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.