What Is Sampler State?

Sampler state determines how texture data is sampled using texture addressing modes, filtering, and level of detail.

Sampling is done each time a texture pixel, or texel, is read from a texture. A texture contains an array of texels, or texture pixels. The position of each texel is denoted by (u,v), where u is the width and v is the height, and is mapped between 0 and 1 based on the texture width and height. The resulting texture coordinates are used to address a texel when sampling a texture.

When texture coordinates are below 0 or above 1, the texture address mode defines how the texture coordinate addresses a texel location. For example, when using TextureAddressMode.Clamp, any coordinate outside the 0-1 range is clamped to a maximum value of 1, and minimum value of 0 before sampling.

If the texture is too large or too small for the polygon, the texture is filtered to fit the space. A magnification filter enlarges a texture, a minification filter reduces the texture to fit into a smaller area. Texture magnification repeats the sample texel for one or more addresses which yields a blurrier image. Texture minification is more complicated because it requires combining more than one texel value into a single value. This can cause aliasing or jagged edges depending on the texture data. The most popular approach for minification is to use a mipmap. A mipmap is a multi-level texture. The size of each level is a power-of-two smaller than the previous level down to a 1x1 texture. When minification is used, a game chooses the mipmap level closest to the size that is needed at render time.

Use the SamplerState class to create a sampler state object. Set the sampler state to the graphics device using the GraphicsDevice.SamplerStates Property property.

This is the default state for sampling:

  • Use linear filtering.

  • Wrap texture addresses on boundaries.

  • Set the maximum anisotropy value to 4.

  • Do not use mip maps or LOD bias.

These are the corresponding API states:

Built-in state objects make it easy to create objects with the most common sampler state settings. The most common settings are LinearClamp, LinearWrap, PointClamp, PointWrap, AnisotropicClamp, and AnisotropicWrap. For an example of creating a state object, see Creating a State Object.

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