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Method for merge-buffer, anti-aliased, 3-dimensional graphics using an 8-bit buffer

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000077148D
Publication Date: 2005-Feb-24

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a method for merge-buffer, anti-aliased, 3-dimensional (3-D) graphics using an 8-bit buffer. Benefits include improved graphics processing.

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Method for merge-buffer, anti-aliased, 3-dimensional graphics using an 8-bit buffer

Disclosed is a method for merge-buffer, anti-aliased, 3-dimensional (3-D) graphics using an 8-bit buffer. Benefits include improved graphics processing.

Background

              A merge buffer (M-buffer) is an area-based algorithm for anti-aliasing. Unlike conventional pixels, M-buffer processed pixels may represent an area larger or smaller than a single pixel. They may partially overlap up to eight of their adjacent neighboring pixels, which are designated as follows:

•             Up

•             Down

•             Right

•             Left

•             Upper-right

•             Upper-left

•             Lower right

•             Lower-left

              An M-buffer softens the edges of lines and triangles so they appear anti-aliased without the significant computational and storage overhead.

              An M-buffer is a hardware-based algorithm that can be implemented independently from software and can be deployed without altering the operating system (OS) or applications.

Color

              Conventional 3-D graphics use a grid of square pixels to represent an image. The storage for all pixels is called the frame buffer. Each pixel uses 8 bits for red, 8 bits for green, and 8 bits for blue. With these 24 bits, a computer can render more colors than the human eye can distinguish. Because 24 bits is an atypical size for computers, 32 bits are allocated for each pixel, of which 8 bits are unused. The M-buffer algorithm uses these 8 bits to perform anti-aliasing.

Z-buffer

              A 3-D image is typically created by drawing a collection of objects, triangles, lines, and points. A separate secondary buffer, called a Z-buffer, contains one entry for the depth or distance information for each pixel.

              The color and distance are calculated for each pixel in an object. If the conventional distance is closer than the corresponding value in the Z-buffer, the pixel is drawn. If the Z-buffer value is less, the pixel is not drawn. Because many objects may overlap any given pixel, the Z-buffer provides a way to ensure that closer objects are displayed while farther away and overlapped objects are not displayed regardless of the order in which the objects are drawn.

Lighting

              Triangles are the basis for drawing most 3-D objects. Triangles may be shaded in many different ways to give the effect of lighting on smooth curving surfaces even though they are flat. Other lighting features like bump mapping are compatible with this algorithm.

Texture maps

              Triangles may have a texture map applied to them. A texture map is a picture, such as a map of the world. When a 20-triangle object has this world map applied, the object has the appearance of a globe. Another texture map on the same 20-triangle object would look like an ice-cream cone, a baseball, or a pumpkin. For each pixel in a triangle, a color is calculated from the texture map. The use of multiple texture...