3D graphic-card maker ATI has unveiled Smartshader - a technology it is billing as a graphics architecture that will bridge the gap between the big screen and computer screen. The company says the technology will give both Windows and Mac OS game developers the most advanced visual effects on any platform.
The heart of the technology are Pixel Shaders, according to ATI. These are small applications that execute on every pixel rendered to the display device. With support for up to six textures in a single rendering pass, the memory bandwidth constraints associated with multi-pass rendering can be greatly reduced. The result, says ATI, is better rendering performance.
ATI says that by effectively doubling the maximum allowable length of the shader programs, more complex shapes can be created to accurately model skin, hair, wood, water, and more. Additionally, SmartShader Pxiel Shaders simplify the instruction set, which lets game developers exercise their graphical prowess in fewer operations.
SmartShader also includes support for Vertex Shaders, says ATI. Like Pixel Shaders, these are executed on the vertices that form the building blocks of all 3D objects. Here, says ATI, the shaders are used to modify the shape and position of 3D objects, and can be deployed for handling advanced character animation. ATI cited examples including objects that bend and ripple like water and cloth, plus particle effects like sparks and rain.
The feature set will be available on systems running either OpenGL or Microsoft DirectX 8.1.