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FAQ: Graphics Terminology

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
If you have any other terms that think should be listed, let me know. Also don't hesitate to correct me if I've made any mistakes.
Graphics Terminology

Ambient Occlusion


This is the shading of an object by light due to occlusion.
See also: Occlusion, SSAO

14v1y6g.jpg


Image source: http://www.renderpix...ent%20Occlusion


Analytical Anti-Aliasing (Abbreviation: AAA)


This version of anti-aliasing is done using mathematical analysis to avoid jagged lines around an object by covering the lines with another line of pixels.


Anisotropic Filtering (Abbreviation: AF)


In its simplest form, it is the sharpening of textures to make them appear less blurred.
See also: Bilinear, Trilinear Filtering and Mipmaps

Anti-Aliasing (Abbreviation: AA)


This is a method of ‘smoothing’ jagged edges. The jagged edges are caused because our screen is made up of tiny squares (pixels) that make up the screen. Therefore, circles and other round images are made up of squares, which cause jagged edges. Anti-aliasing helps to smoothen it out to make the image appear more natural. Generally the more smoothing that occurs, the greater the loss of performance.
See also: AAA, CSAA, MLAA, MSAA, SSAA

55r0nl.jpg


Artefact

These are anomalies created in the scene which are not supposed to be there. This can vary from pixels being scattered around the scene to deformation of objects.

artifact1.jpg
Source: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/261862-15-9800gtx-artifacts-tool

Bilinear Filtering


Sometimes textures are displayed larger or smaller than they are supposed to be. This can make them look pixelated or blurry and so bilinear filtering smoothens out the textures.


Bloom

Bloom is an attempt in making scenes appear more realistic. This is done by adding light behind bright objects and scenery to try and mimic bloom generated by real cameras.

Elephants_Dream_-_Emo_and_Proog.jpg
Source: Elephants Dream

CrossFireX

This is AMD's term for running multiple AMD graphics cards simultaneously to improve performance.

Coverage Sampling Anti-Aliasing (Abbreviation: CSAA)


This is a more efficient version of MSAA, developed by NVIDIA, which stops the dependency of shaded colours with each other, reducing bandwidth and storage. According to NVIDIA, they claim that it rivals to 8x or 16x MSAA.


Floating-Point Operations per Second (Abbreviation: FLOPS)


Is the rough measurement of the performance of a processing unit calculating float-point operations.


Frames per Second
(Abbreviation: FPS)

FPS is an acronym for Frames per Second, which is what it means – how many frames (pictures) displayed every second. The more properties are enabled such as anti-aliasing (the smoothening of edges) and higher detail, the lower the FPS, because the graphics card has to process more data.


Graphics Double Data Rate (Abbreviation: GDDR
)

GDDR is similar to DDR. The main difference between them is that GDDR consumes less power and requires less voltage than DDR, but is more expensive.


Graphical Processing Unit
(Abbreviation: GPU)

Is an acronym for Graphics Processing Unit, the chip on a graphics card that processes all of the data.


High Dynamic Range Imaging (Abbreviation: HDRI/HDR)

This is an attempt in making a scene appear more realistic. It creates a more dynamic range of luminance (the amount of light that passes through/is emitted) in dark and light scenes.

Mipmaps


This is used in conjunction with anisotropic filtering. It is smaller variations of textures used compared to a bigger one, such as to display on a 3D object for example. When up close to the texture, it will look very sharp and crisp and as you move away it will more so. The problem comes when that texture is far away, but is still being rendered at the original resolution, adds extra strain to the GPU when lots of far-away scenery is being rendered. The solution is to use smaller sized version of the texture to render at further distances – the further away from the object, the smaller the mipmap.


2iw9gue.jpg

Morphological Anti-Aliasing (Abbreviation: MLAA)

This type of anti-aliasing involves rendering a whole scene completely and then removing aliasing after with hardware acceleration. So far on PCs only AMD Radeon graphics cards support MLAA. Some PlayStation 3 titles also utilise MLAA, such as God of War 3 and The Saboteur.

Multisampling Anti-Aliasing (Abbreviation: MSAA)


This is a more efficient improvement of SSAA, due to there being large performance issues as the resolution gets higher, to which MSAA does the same thing as SSAA without the large performance hit.


Occlusion


In layman’s terms it is the blocking of the view of an object from another object.


Pixels


Your whole screen is made of pixels – tiny dots that can display up to 3 or 4 different types of colour. Pixel is the short name for picture element. The 3 or 4 colours are red, green, blue (RGB) or cyan, yellow, magenta and black. When we talk about screen resolution, we talk about how many pixels are shown on the screen. For example, 1280x1024 means that there are 1280 pixels from side to side (left to right or vice versa) and 1024 from top to bottom (vertically).


Pixel Shader

A shader that affects the way a pixel is rendered, such as its colour, depth and the likes. See also: Pixel, Shader

Quality Anti-Aliasing (Usage: 8xQ AA as opposed to 8x AA)

When comparing 8x to 8xQ, 8x uses 4x MSAA component with an extra 8 coverage sample while 8xQ samples the edges 8 times. From this we can see that 8xQ provides much better image quality but at a large performance hit.

Refresh Rate


Refresh rate is basically what it sounds like; it is how many times your graphics card re-draws (or ‘refreshes’) the screen. Usually, the higher the refresh rates the better, as the image is clearer and will remove any artifacts or lines. It is measured in Hertz (Hz), so a refresh rate of 75Hz, means the screen is redrawn 75 times in a second.


Screen Space Ambient Occlusion [Abbreviation: SSAO, HBAO (Horizontal Based Ambient Occlusion)]


This is simply the use of Ambient Occlusion running in real-time.


Shader

This is a piece of software that has an effect on the way that things are rendered. See also: Pixel Shader, Vertex Shader

Shadows


In graphics terms, there are generally two types of shadows that pop-up most often: Hard and Soft shadows. They are what the sound like, a hard shadow is a shadow with sharp edges while a soft shadow is a shadow that is more realistic, with blurred edges.


mki2h2.jpg


Image source: http://artis.imag.fr...rd_vs_soft.html

SLI

This is NVIDIA's term
for running multiple NVIDIA graphics cards simultaneously to improve performance.

Sun Shafts

Intense beams of light often called god rays that scatter light widely, generally through cloud scenes.

script-SunShafts-0.jpg
Source: http://unity3d.com/support/documentation/Components/script-SunShafts.html

Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing (Abbreviation: SSAA)


Put simply, it is the taking of more samples to increase the density of an image.


Tearing


Tearing occurs when a large number of frames are output, more than the output device can handle, or which does not have its settings properly calibrated – resulting in an overlap of frames. It is generally prevented by using Vertical Synchronisation.


2ura4oi.jpg





Image source: http://www.arcadeita...?p=46084#p46084

Tesselation


Is the use of smaller shapes to make bigger ones, such as two triangles making a square. By itself, tessellation hardly improves anything, but needs to be used in conjunction with a displacement map to give the object depth and perception.


Trilinear Filtering


Unfortunately, Bilinear Filtering has its weaknesses because when the transition happens between different mipmaps, it can become obvious showing straight lines that separate the different sized textures. The solution to this is trilinear filtering. It ‘smoothens’ out the transition between different mipmaps.


Triple Buffering


Triple buffering is the simultaneous action of holding triple the amount of temporary data that is moved from one location to another. This is used to attempt to get rid of artefacts, image tearing, flickering and the likes.


Vertical Synchronisation


Vertical Synchronisation, often abbreviated to VSync is a method that tends to 'lock' the FPS of an application to the Refresh Rate of a monitor. For example, most monitors have a refresh rate of 60Hz and therefore with VSync enabled FPS is locked at 60. This is usually done for higher image quality and to prevent image tearing.

Vertex Shader

This type of shader affects the vertices of an object, such as its colours, textures and co-ordinates. See also: Pixel Shader, Shader

Edited by MrAlex - 9/16/11 at 2:24am
    
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post #2 of 20
why do we not get it exclusively here on ocn? biggrin.gif
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post #3 of 20
Amazing guide +cookie
post #4 of 20
awesomesauce!
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post #5 of 20
dang sorry double post
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post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Updated with some more terms!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greensystemsgo;13263209 
why do we not get it exclusively here on ocn? biggrin.gif

The more people know about the terms, the better? tongue.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedNuggeT;13263217 
Amazing guide +cookie

Thanks biggrin.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by lotdash0t;13263359 
awesomesauce!

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post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Added some more terms ^_^
    
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post #8 of 20
A few terms that I have found in a few games, namely Bad Company 2, and World of Warcraft, are "HBAO", "Sunshafts", and "Bloom". Perhaps you could add these terms and the appropriate explanation to your FAQ biggrin.gif. Good job on the this FAQ btw, +rep and im subbed.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattb2e;13313653 
A few terms that I have found in a few games, namely Bad Company 2, and World of Warcraft, are "HBAO", "Sunshafts", and "Bloom". Perhaps you could add these terms and the appropriate explanation to your FAQ biggrin.gif. Good job on the this FAQ btw, +rep and im subbed.

Updated with the terms requested wink.gif
    
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post #10 of 20
nice one
for understanding the difference between (Bilinear, Trilinear , Anisotropic) here is a pic that might help
http://www.extremetech.com/image_popup/0,,iid=176086&aID=208360&sID=1017,00.asp

great FAQ
    
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