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What are shaders and how to use them

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I know a bit Direct3D and what it seems to me is that it is slow when you need to render alots of things. Shaders are suppose to speed up things and add more details? Im really n00b when it comes to 3d...

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instead of setting some paths on the gpu where what should happen now you have some sort of "language" in wich you define e basic flow, on what it has to calculate. look up vertex and pixel shaders, they are well documented.. they basically define a small program, that gets calculated for each vertex of the mesh, and for each pixel on screen of the triangle..

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Shaders are the way in which programmers can customise the 3D pipeline to better suit their needs. The behaviour of earlier 3D cards had to be specified by setting flags and options, but newer ones you can choose to more or less program. The main benefit here is greater flexibility.

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