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  Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra, King of the Hill 
  Apr 14, 2004, 09:00am EDT 

Shadows and illumination

By: Sander Sassen

The CineFX 3.0 engine works with 32-bit precision throughout the pipeline where floating point operands can be treated in native 32-bit or optional 16-bit mode. By choosing between these two modes programmers can achieve the desired level of precision without reducing efficiency. This actually has two big benefits, the first being the simple fact that if only 16-bit precision is needed you donít need to use 32-bit, thus freeing up extra memory than can be used elsewhere, 32-bit mode uses up twice as much memory to store the operands. Furthermore 16-bit mode executes faster as fewer data sets are to be processed, so details in a scene that only need to be rendered at 16-bit will be processed faster leaving time to create other effects with 32-bit precision, thus improving efficiency as 32-bit rendering is only used where required.

This becomes especially important when we start using effects such as subsurface scattering and global illumination. Subsurface scattering is best demonstrated when it is used to give skin and surfaces depth with variations that show realistic translucent qualities. Like normal skin that is more translucent in some areas and less so in others subsurface scattering allows the programmer to mimic these effects, naturally this technique can be applied to any surface. Another effect is soft shadows, which will aid in creating a photo realistic scene by achieving depth of field in shadows also, blurring the shadow when it moves further away from the object that casts the shadow. And adding to this feature is the ability to cast artifact-free lifelike shadows on other objects such as walls, floors and ceilings, but also on, for example, vegetation and other objects in the scene. Due to the 32-bit pipelineís efficiency and speed of execution ground shadows will accurately move with the object as the point of view changes.

1. Introduction
2. Shaders and pipelines
3. Shadows and illumination
4. Benchmarks, what and how
5. Benchmarks, 3Dmark03, 2001 SE and AquaMark3
6. Benchmarks, UT2003 and 2004
7. Benchmarks, Halo and Far Cry
8. Conclusion
9. Pricing Information

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