Programming Guide for HLSL
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Programming Guide for HLSL

At a very high level, data enters the graphics pipeline as a stream of primitives and is processed by up to as many as three shader stages:

  • A vertex shader performs per-vertex processing such as transformations, skinning, vertex displacement, and calculating per-vertex material attributes. Tessellation of higher-order primitives should be done before the vertex shader executes. As a minimum, a vertex shader must output vertex position in homogeneous clip space. Optionally, the vertex shader can output texture coordinates, vertex color, vertex lighting, fog factors, and so on.
  • A geometry shader performs per-primitive processing such as material selection and silhouette-edge detection, and can generate new primitives for point sprite expansion, fin generation, shadow volume extrusion, and single pass rendering to multiple faces of a cube texture.
  • A pixel shader performs per-pixel processing such as texture blending, lighting model computation, and per-pixel normal and/or environmental mapping. Pixel shaders work in concert with vertex shaders; the output of a vertex shader provides the inputs for a pixel shader. In Direct3D 9 some pixel operations (such as fog blending, stencil operations, and render-target blending) occur after the pixel shader is finished.

These stages are completely programmable using the High Level Shading Language (HLSL). HLSL shaders can be compiled at author-time or at runtime, and set at runtime into the appropriate pipeline stage. Direct3D 9 shaders can be designed using shader model 1, shader model 2 and shader model 3; Direct3D 10 shaders can only be designed on shader model 4. Direct3D 11 shaders can be designed on shader model 5.

Related Topics

Reference for HLSL



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