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24 janvier 2011 1 24 /01 /janvier /2011 07:30

Autodesk 3ds Max, formerly 3D Studio MAX, is a modeling, animation and rendering package developed by Autodesk Media and Entertainment. It has modeling capabilities, a flexible plugin architecture and is able to be used on the Microsoft Windows platform  (Dell XPS M1210 Batteryhttp://www.hdd-shop.co.uk .

It's frequently used by video game developers, TV commercial studios and architectural visualization studios. It is also used for movie effects and movie pre-visualization.

In addition to its modeling and animation tools, the latest version of 3ds Max also features shaders   (Dell Studio XPS 1640 Battery)

(such as ambient occlusion and subsurface scattering), dynamic simulation, particle systems, radiosity, normal map creation and rendering, global illumination, a customizable user interface, and its own scripting language   (Dell Vostro 1710 Battery) .

Early history and releases

The original 3D Studio product was created for the DOS platform by the Yost Group and published by Autodesk. After 3D Studio Release 4, the product was rewritten for the Windows NT platform, and re-named "3D Studio MAX." This version was also originally created by the Yost Group  (Dell KM958 battery)      .

It was released by Kinetix, which was at that time Autodesk's division of media and entertainment. Autodesk purchased the product at the second release mark of the 3D Studio MAX version and internalized development entirely over the next two releases  Dell Studio 1555 battery .

Later, the product name was changed to "3ds max" (all lower case) to better comply with the naming conventions of Discreet, a Montreal-based software company which Autodesk had purchased. At release 8, the product was again branded with the Autodesk logo, and the name was again changed to "3ds Max" (upper and lower case)      (Sony VGP-BPS13 battery)    .

At release 2009, the product name changed to "Autodesk 3ds Max".

Features

MAXScript

MAXScript is a built-in scripting language, and can be used to automate repetitive tasks, combine existing functionality in new ways, develop new tools and user interfaces and much more      (Sony VGP-BPS13/B battery)         .

Plugin modules can be created entirely in MAXScript.

Character Studio

Character Studio was a plugin which since version 4 of Max is now integrated in 3D Studio Max, helping user to animate virtual characters   (Sony VGP-BPS13/S battery)        .

The system works using a character rig or "Biped" which is pre-made and allows the user to adjust the rig to fit the character they will be animating . Dedicated curve editors and motion capture data import tools make Character Studio ideal for character animation  (Sony VGP-BPS13A/B battery)      .

"Biped" objects have other useful features that automated the production of walk cycles and movement paths, as well as secondary motion.

Scene Explorer

Scene Explorer, a tool that provides a hierarchical view of scene data and analysis, facilitates working with more complex scenes (Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery)      .

Scene Explorer has the ability to sort, filter, and search a scene by any object type or property (including metadata). Added in 3ds Max 2008, it was the first component to facilitate .NET managed code in 3ds Max outside of MAXScript.

DWG Import

3ds Max supports both import and linking of DWG files      (Sony VGP-BPL9 battery)         .

Improved memory management in 3ds Max 2008 enables larger scenes to be imported with multiple objects.

Texture Assignment/Editing

3ds Max offers operations for creative texture and planar mapping, including tiling, mirroring, decals, angle, rotate, blur, UV stretching, and relaxation; Remove Distortion; Preserve UV; and UV template image export      (Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery)    .

The texture workflow includes the ability to combine an unlimited number of textures, a material/map browser with support for drag-and-drop assignment, and hierarchies with thumbnails. UV workflow features include Pelt mapping, which defines custom seams and enables users to unfold UVs according to those seams    Sony VGP-BPL15 battery ;

copy/paste materials, maps and colors; and access to quick mapping types (box, cylindrical, spherical).

General Keyframing

Two keying modes — set key and auto key — offer support for different keyframing workflows  Dell Inspiron E1505 battery .

Fast and intuitive controls for keyframing — including cut, copy, and paste — let the user create animations with ease. Animation trajectories may be viewed and edited directly in the viewport.

Constrained Animation

Objects can be animated along curves with controls for alignment   Dell Latitude E6400 battery ,

banking, velocity, smoothness, and looping, and along surfaces with controls for alignment. Weight path-controlled animation between multiple curves, and animate the weight. Objects can be constrained to animate with other objects in many ways — including look at, orientation in different coordinate spaces, and linking at different points in time   HP Pavilion dv6000 Battery .

These constraints also support animated weighting between more than one target.

All resulting constrained animation can be collapsed into standard keyframes for further editing.

Skinning

Either the Skin or Physique modifier may be used to achieve precise control of skeletal deformation  SONY VAIO VGN-FZ Battery ,

so the character deforms smoothly as joints are moved, even in the most challenging areas, such as shoulders. Skin deformation can be controlled using direct vertex weights, volumes of vertices defined by envelopes, or both.

Capabilities such as weight tables         SONY VAIO VGN-FZ18 Battery ,

paintable weights, and saving and loading of weights offer easy editing and proximity-based transfer between models, providing the accuracy and flexibility needed for complicated characters.

The rigid bind skinning option is useful for animating low-polygon models or as a diagnostic tool for regular skeleton animation  SONY VAIO VGN-FZ21E Battery.

Additional modifiers, such as Skin Wrap and Skin Morph, can be used to drive meshes with other meshes and make targeted weighting adjustments in tricky areas.

Skeletons and Inverse Kinematics (IK)

Characters can be rigged with custom skeletons using 3ds Max bones, IK solvers, and rigging tools  SONY VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery .

All animation tools — including expressions, scripts, list controllers, and wiring — can be used along with a set of utilities specific to bones to build rigs of any structure and with custom controls, so animators see only the UI necessary to get their characters animated   SONY VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery .

Four plug-in IK solvers ship with 3ds Max: history-independent solver, history-dependent solver, limb solver, and spline IK solver. These powerful solvers reduce the time it takes to create high-quality character animation. The history-independent solver delivers smooth blending between IK and FK animation and uses preferred angles to give animators more control over the positioning of affected bones  SONY VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery .

The history-dependent solver can solve within joint limits and is used for machine-like animation. IK limb is a lightweight two-bone solver, optimized for real-time interactivity, ideal for working with a character arm or leg. Spline IK solver provides a flexible animation system with nodes that can be moved anywhere in 3D space         SONY VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S Battery .

It allows for efficient animation of skeletal chains, such as a character’s spine or tail, and includes easy-to-use twist and roll controls.

Integrated Cloth Solver

In addition to reactor’s cloth modifier, 3ds Max software has an integrated cloth-simulation engine that enables the user to turn almost any 3D object into clothing, or build garments from scratch   SONY VAIO VGN-NR11Z/T Battery .

Collision solving is fast and accurate even in complex simulations.(image.3ds max.jpg)

Local simulation lets artists drape cloth in real time to set up an initial clothing state before setting animation keys.

Cloth simulations can be used in conjunction with other 3ds Max dynamic forces, such as Space Warps  Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21E Battery .

Multiple independent cloth systems can be animated with their own objects and forces. Cloth deformation data can be cached to the hard drive to allow for nondestructive iterations and to improve playback performance         Sony VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery .

Integration with Autodesk Vault

Autodesk Vault plug-in, which ships with 3ds Max, consolidates users’ 3ds Max assets in a single location, enabling them to automatically track files and manage work in progress. Users can easily and safely share, find, and reuse 3ds Max (and design) assets in a large-scale production or visualization environment   Sony VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery .

Industry usage

Many recent films have made use of 3ds Max, or previous versions of the program under previous names, in CGI animation, such as Avatar and 2012, which contain computer generated graphics from 3ds Max alongside live-action acting  Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S Battery .

3ds Max has also been used in the development of 3D computer graphics for a number of video games.

Architectural and engineering design firms use 3ds Max for developing conceptual art and previsualization  Sony VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery .

Educational usage

Educational programs at secondary and tertiary level use 3ds Max in their courses on 3D computer graphics and computer animation. Students in the FIRST competition for 3d animation are known to use 3ds Max       Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/T Battery .

Modeling techniques

Polygon modeling

Polygon modeling is more common with game design than any other modeling technique as the very specific control over individual polygons allows for extreme optimization   SONY VAIO VGN-FZ180E Battery .

Usually, the modeler begins with one of the 3ds max primitives, and using such tools as bevel and extrude, adds detail to and refines the model. Versions 4 and up feature the Editable Polygon object, which simplifies most mesh editing operations, and provides subdivision smoothing at customizable levels        SONY VAIO VGN-FZ220E Battery .

Version 7 introduced the edit poly modifier, which allows the use of the tools available in the editable polygon object to be used higher in the modifier stack (i.e., on top of other modifications)

NURBS or non-uniform rational B-spline

An alternative to polygons, it gives a smoothed out surface that eliminates the straight edges of a polygon model   SONY VAIO VGN-FZ340E Battery .

NURBS is a mathematically exact representation of freeform surfaces like those used for car bodies and ship hulls, which can be exactly reproduced at any resolution whenever needed. With NURBS, a smooth sphere can be created with only one face  SONY VAIO VGN-FZ430E Battery .

The non-uniform property of NURBS brings up an important point. Because they are generated mathematically, NURBS objects have a parameter space in addition to the 3D geometric space in which they are displayed. Specifically, an array of values called knots specifies the extent of influence of each control vertex (CV) on the curve or surface   SONY VAIO VGN-FZ460E Battery .

Knots are invisible in 3D space and you can't manipulate them directly, but occasionally their behavior affects the visible appearance of the NURBS object. This topic mentions those situations. Parameter space is one-dimensional for curves, which have only a single U dimension topologically, even though they exist geometrically in 3D space     SONY VAIO VGN-FZ480E Battery .

Surfaces have two dimensions in parameter space, called U and V.

NURBS curves and surfaces have the important properties of not changing under the standard geometric affine transformations (Transforms), or under perspective projections   SONY VAIO VGN-FZ4000 Battery .

The CVs have local control of the object: moving a CV or changing its weight does not affect any part of the object beyond the neighboring CVs. (You can override this property by using the Soft Selection controls.) Also, the control lattice that connects CVs surrounds the surface. This is known as the convex hull property   SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31E Battery .

Surface tool/Editable patch object

Surface tool was originally a 3rd party plugin, but Kinetix acquired and included this feature since version 3.0. The surface tool is for creating common 3ds Max splines, and then applying a modifier called "surface." This modifier makes a surface from every 3 or 4 vertices in a grid        SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31B Battery .

This is often seen as an alternative to "mesh" or "nurbs" modeling, as it enables a user to interpolate curved sections with straight geometry (for example a hole through a box shape). Although the surface tool is a useful way to generate parametrically accurate geometry, it lacks the "surface properties" found in the similar Edit Patch modifier   SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31J Battery ,

which enables a user to maintain the original parametric geometry whilst being able to adjust "smoothing groups" between faces.

Predefined primitives

This is a basic method, in which one models something using only boxes, spheres, cones, cylinders and other predefined objects from the list of Predefined Standard Primitives or a list of Predefined Extended Primitives SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31M Battery .

One may also apply boolean operations, including subtract, cut and connect. For example, one can make two spheres which will work as blobs that will connect with each other. These are called metaballs.

Renderosity is an online art community and marketplace for digital artists          SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31Z Battery ,

with special emphasis on computer-generated 3D graphics, 2D graphics, photography and animation. Originally created as a Poser forum, it now has well over half a million members that use a multitude of different pieces of professional digital design software  SONY VAIO VGN-FZ38M Battery .

History

The community was founded in December 1998 under the name PoserForum.com, reflecting the group's original focus on use of the Poser software. The name was changed to Renderosity by community vote in October 1999. Over time, as the community grew and matured, so did the need to focus less on being a Poser centric community     SONY VGP-BPS8 Battery .

Membership

Renderosity has well over 600,000 members. Membership is free for those wishing to upload a single piece of art, or a monthly subscription permits users to upload three pieces of art and gives access to the entire computer graphics community   SONY VGP-BPS13 Battery .

That includes art galleries, tutorials, free downloadable content, discussion forums, artist bio pages, job board, animations, industry news and interviews.

Communities

There are many sub-communities within the site including artists' galleries, tutorials and forums    SONY VGP-BPS13/S Battery .

These cover a range of popluar mainstream 3D modeling and animation products as well as less well known software.

Marketplace

The Renderosity MarketPlace is an online content library for buying or selling computer generated art or, more commonly, components used to generate art, such as clothing for Poser or a building or object for 3DS Max   SONY VGP-BPS13A/B Battery .

In addition, many brokers sell texture packs or add-ons for products created by other brokers. The MarketPlace is open to all Renderosity members and provides a brokerage program for artists interested in selling their digital products. Renderosity's large membership base allows artists access to a huge distribution channel for their products  SONY VGP-BPS13B/B Battery .

The top selling vendors are rewarded with various awards given out at the end of each year. Initially the only award given out was the Vendor of the Year - which was given to the vendor who had the most sales for the year. This has since been expanded to include the top selling new member that year (Rookie of the Year)   SONY VGP-BPS13A/S Battery ,

the top selling product of the year (Most Valuable Product), and the vendor with the most number of products sold (All Star).

Site design

Renderosity is owned by Bondware, Inc. who provide the hosting and basic design of the site. Every two years, Renderosity holds a contest with its members to redesign the graphics of the website        SONY VGP-BPS13AS Battery .

Applicants submit their entries and the winner is selected by members of the community. Site design changes have occurred in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

graphics processing unit or GPU (also occasionally called visual processing unit or VPU) is a specialized microprocessor that offloads and accelerates graphics rendering from the central (micro-)processor   Dell Inspiron 1320n Battery .

It is used in embedded systems, mobile phones, personal computers, workstations, and game consoles. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating computer graphics, and their highly parallel structure makes them more effective than general-purpose CPUs for a range of complex algorithms   Dell Inspiron 1464 Battery .

In a personal computer, a GPU can be present on a video card, or it can be on the motherboard, or as in certain Core Intel CPUs, on a CPU die. More than 90% of new desktop and notebook computers have integrated GPUs, which are usually far less powerful than those on a dedicated video card       Dell Inspiron 1564 Battery .

The term was defined and popularized by Nvidia in 1999, who marketed the GeForce 256 as "the world's first 'GPU', or Graphics Processing Unit, a single-chip processor with integrated transform, lighting, triangle setup/clipping, and rendering engines that is capable of processing a minimum of 10 million polygons per second     Dell Inspiron 1764 Battery .

" Rival ATI Technologies coined the term visual processing unit or VPU with the release of the Radeon 9700 in 2002.

Graphics accelerators

A GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is a processor attached to a graphics card dedicated to calculating floating point operations  Dell Studio 1450 Battery .

A graphics accelerator incorporates custom microchips which contain special mathematical operations commonly used in graphics rendering. The efficiency of the microchips therefore determines the effectiveness of the graphics accelerator. They are mainly used for playing 3D games or high-end 3D rendering      Dell Studio 1457 Battery .

A GPU implements a number of graphics primitive operations in a way that makes running them much faster than drawing directly to the screen with the host CPU. The most common operations for early 2D computer graphics include the BitBLT operation, combining several bitmap patterns using a raster op       Dell Latitude D610 Battery ,

usually in special hardware called a "blitter", and operations for drawing rectangles, triangles, circles, and arcs. Modern GPUs also have support for 3D computer graphics, and typically include digital video–related functions      Toshiba NB100 Battery .

1970s

The ANTIC and CTIA chips provided for hardware control of mixed graphics and text modes, sprite positioning and display (a form of hardware blitting), and other effects on Atari 8-bit computers. The ANTIC chip was a special purpose processor for mapping (in a programmable fashion) text and graphics data to the video output   Toshiba Satellite M65 battery .

The designer of the ANTIC chip, Jay Miner, subsequently designed the graphics chip for the Commodore Amiga.

1980s

The IBM Professional Graphics Controller was one of the very first 2D/3D graphics accelerators available for the IBM PC  Toshiba Satellite M60 battery .

Released in 1984, 10 years before hardware 3D acceleration became a standard, its high price (~$4500 USD @ 1984 currency), slow processor (8088-2 running at 8 MHz), and lack of compatibility with then-current commercial programs made it unable to succeed in the mass-market     Dell Latitude D830 Battery .

The Commodore Amiga was the first mass-market computer to include a blitter in its video hardware, and IBM's 8514 graphics system was one of the first PC video cards to implement 2D primitives in hardware.

The Amiga was unique, for the time, in that it featured what would now be recognized as a full graphics accelerator  Dell Latitude D620 Battery ,

offloading practically all video generation functions to hardware, including line drawing, area fill, block image transfer, and a graphics coprocessor with its own (primitive) instruction set. Prior to this (and quite some time after on most systems) a general purpose CPU had to handle every aspect of drawing the display  Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Battery .

1990s

In 1991, S3 Graphics introduced the first single-chip 2D accelerator, the S3 86C911, which its designers named after the Porsche 911 as an indication of the performance increase it promised        Sony VGN-FW11S Battery .

The 86C911 spawned a host of imitators: by 1995, all major PC graphics chip makers had added 2D acceleration support to their chips. By this time, fixed-function Windows accelerators had surpassed expensive general-purpose graphics coprocessors in Windows performance, and these coprocessors faded away from the PC market       Sony VGN-FW11M Battery .

Throughout the 1990s, 2D GUI acceleration continued to evolve. As manufacturing capabilities improved, so did the level of integration of graphics chips. Additional application programming interfaces (APIs) arrived for a variety of tasks, such as Microsoft's WinG graphics library for Windows 3.x   Sony VGN-FW139E/H battery ,

and their laterDirectDraw interface for hardware acceleration of 2D games within Windows 95 and later.

In the early and mid-1990s, CPU-assisted real-time 3D graphics were becoming increasingly common in computer and console games, which led to an increasing public demand for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics   Dell Latitude E5400 Battery .

Early examples of mass-marketed 3D graphics hardware can be found in fifth generation video game consoles such as PlayStation and Nintendo 64. In the PC world, notable failed first-tries for low-cost 3D graphics chips were the S3 ViRGE, ATIRage, and MatroxMystique Dell Latitude E4200 Battery .

These chips were essentially previous-generation 2D accelerators with 3D features bolted on. Many were even pin-compatiblewith the earlier-generation chips for ease of implementation and minimal cost. Initially, performance 3D graphics were possible only with discrete boards dedicated to accelerating 3D functions (and lacking 2D GUI acceleration entirely) such as the 3dfx Voodoo Dell Inspiron 300M Battery .

However, as manufacturing technology again progressed, video, 2D GUI acceleration, and 3D functionality were all integrated into one chip. Rendition's Verite chipsets were the first to do this well enough to be worthy of note.

OpenGL appeared in the early 90s as a professional graphics API, but originally suffered from performance issues which allowed the Glide API to step in and become a dominant force on the PC in the late 90s         Dell Vostro A840 Battery .

However these issues were quickly overcome and the Glide API fell by the wayside. Software implementations of OpenGL were common during this time although the influence of OpenGL eventually led to widespread hardware support. Over time a parity emerged between features offered in hardware and those offered in OpenGL     Dell Studio 1737 battery .

DirectX became popular among Windows game developers during the late 90s. Unlike OpenGL, Microsoft insisted on providing strict one-to-one support of hardware. The approach made DirectX less popular as a stand alone graphics API initially since many GPUs provided their own specific features       Dell Inspiron E1505 battery ,

which existing OpenGL applications were already able to benefit from, leaving DirectX often one generation behind. (See: Comparison of OpenGL and Direct3D).

Over time Microsoft began to work more closely with hardware developers, and started to target the releases of DirectX with those of the supporting graphics hardware         Dell RM791 battery .

Direct3D 5.0 was the first version of the burgeoning API to gain widespread adoption in the gaming market, and it competed directly with many more hardware specific, often proprietary graphics libraries, while OpenGL maintained a strong following. Direct3D 7.0 introduced support for hardware-accelerated transform and lighting (T&L) for Direct3D        Dell XPS M1530 battery ,

while OpenGL already had this capability already exposed from the beginning. 3D accelerators moved beyond being just simple rasterizers to add another significant hardware stage to the 3D rendering pipeline. The NVIDIA GeForce 256 (also known as NV10) was the first consumer-level card on the market with hardware-accelerated T&L   Dell XPS M2010 battery ,

while professional 3D cards already had this capability. Hardware transform and lighting, both already existing features of OpenGL, came to consumer-level hardware in the 90s and set the precedent for later pixel shader and vertex shader units which were far more flexible and programmable       Acer Aspire One battery .

2000 to present

With the advent of the OpenGL API and similar functionality in DirectX, GPUs added programmable shading to their capabilities. Each pixel could now be processed by a short program that could include additional image textures as inputs, and each geometric vertex could likewise be processed by a short program before it was projected onto the screen  Toshiba Satellite P10 Battery .

NVIDIA was first to produce a chip capable of programmable shading, the GeForce 3 (code named NV20). By October 2002, with the introduction of the ATI Radeon 9700 (also known as R300), the world's first Direct3D 9.0 accelerator    SONY VGN-FZ210CE Battery,

pixel and vertex shaders could implement looping and lengthy floating point math, and in general were quickly becoming as flexible as CPUs, and orders of magnitude faster for image-array operations. Pixel shading is often used for things like bump mapping, which adds texture, to make an object look shiny, dull, rough, or even round or extruded        Dell Precision M70 Battery .

As the processing power of GPUs has increased, so has their demand for electrical power. High performance GPUs often consume more energy than current CPUs.  See also performance per wattand quiet PC.

Today, parallel GPUs have begun making computational inroads against the CPU, and a subfield of research, dubbed GPU Computing or GPGPU for General Purpose Computing on GPU, has found its way into fields as diverse as oil exploration, scientific image processing, linear algebra, statistics,  3D reconstruction and even stock options pricing determination   Toshiba Satellite L305 Battery .

Nvidia's CUDA platform is the most widely adopted programming model for GPU computing, with OpenCL also being offered as an open standard.

GPU companies

Many companies have produced GPUs under a number of brand names. In 2008, Intel, NVIDIA and AMD/ATI were the market share leaders, with 49.4%, 27.8% and 20.6% market share respectively        Toshiba Satellite T4900 Battery .

However, those numbers include Intel's integrated graphics solutions as GPUs. Not counting those numbers, NVIDIA and ATI control nearly 100% of the market. In addition, S3 Graphics,VIA Technologies  and Matrox  produce GPUs   Toshiba PA3399U-2BRS battery .

Computational functions

Modern GPUs use most of their transistors to perform calculations related to 3D computer graphics. They were initially used to accelerate the memory-intensive work of texture mapping and renderingpolygons, later adding units to accelerate geometric calculations such as the rotation and translation of vertices into different coordinate systems  Toshiba Satellite A200 Battery .

Recent developments in GPUs include support forprogrammable shaders which can manipulate vertices and textures with many of the same operations supported by CPUs, oversampling and interpolation techniques to reduce aliasing, and very high-precision color spaces      Toshiba Satellite 1200 Battery .

Because most of these computations involve matrix and vector operations, engineers and scientists have increasingly studied the use of GPUs for non-graphical calculations.

In addition to the 3D hardware, today's GPUs include basic 2D acceleration and framebuffer capabilities (usually with a VGA compatibility mode)     Toshiba Satellite M300 Battery .

GPU accelerated video decoding

Most GPUs made since 1995 support the YUV color space and hardware overlays, important for digital video playback, and many GPUs made since 2000 also support MPEG primitives such as motion compensation and iDCT   SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery ,

this process of hardware accelerated video decoding, where portions of the video decoding process and video post-processing are offloaded to the GPU hardware, is commonly referred to as "GPU accelerated video decoding", "GPU assisted video decoding", "GPU hardware accelerated video decoding" or "GPU hardware assisted video decoding"  SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery .

More recent graphics cards even decode high-definition video on the card, offloading the central processing unit. The most common API's for GPU accelerated video decoding are DxVA for Microsoft Windows operating-system, and VDPAU, VAAPI, XvMC, and XvBA for Linux and UNIX based operating-system  SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q Battery .

All except XvMC are capable of decoding videos encoded with MPEG-1, MPEG-2,MPEG-4 ASP (MPEG-4 Part 2), MPEG-4 AVC (H.264 / DivX 6), VC-1, WMV3/WMV9, Xvid / OpenDivX (DivX 4), and DivX 5 codecs, while XvMC is only capable of decoding MPEG-1 and MPEG-2   SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q Battery .

Video decoding processes that can be accelerated

The video decoding processes that can be accelerated by today's modern GPU hardware are:

  • Motion compensation (mocomp)
  • Inverse discrete cosine transform (iDCT)        SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery
    • Inverse telecine 3:2 and 2:2 pull-down correction
  • Inverse modified discrete cosine transform (iMDCT)
  • In-loop deblocking filter
  • Intra-frame prediction           SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery
  • Inverse quantization (IQ)
  • Variable-Length Decoding (VLD), more commonly known as slice-level acceleration
  • Spatial-temporal deinterlacing and automatic interlace/progressive source detection
  • Bitstream processing (CAVLC/CABAC)         SONY VGP-BPS21A/B Battery .

GPU forms

Dedicated graphics cards

The GPUs of the most powerful class typically interface with the motherboard by means of an expansion slot such as PCI Express (PCIe) or Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) and can usually be replaced or upgraded with relative ease, assuming the motherboard is capable of supporting the upgrade        SONY VGP-BPS21/S Battery .

A few graphics cards still use Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) slots, but their bandwidth is so limited that they are generally used only when a PCIe or AGP slot is not available.

A dedicated GPU is not necessarily removable, nor does it necessarily interface with the motherboard in a standard fashion  SONY VGP-BPS21B Battery .

The term "dedicated" refers to the fact that dedicated graphics cards haveRAM that is dedicated to the card's use, not to the fact that most dedicated GPUs are removable. Dedicated GPUs for portable computers are most commonly interfaced through a non-standard and often proprietary slot due to size and weight constraints   SONY VGP-BPS21A Battery .

Such ports may still be considered PCIe or AGP in terms of their logical host interface, even if they are not physically interchangeable with their counterparts.

Technologies such as SLI by NVIDIA and CrossFire by ATI allow multiple GPUs to be used to draw a single image, increasing the processing power available for graphics   SONY VGP-BPS21 Battery .

Integrated graphics solutions

Integrated graphics solutionsshared graphics solutions, or Integrated graphics processors (IGP) utilize a portion of a computer's system RAM rather than dedicated graphics memory. Exceptions are AMD's IGPs that use dedicated sideport memory on certain motherboards        Sony VGP-BPS21A/B Battery .

Computers with integrated graphics account for 90% of all PC shipments.These solutions are less costly to implement than dedicated graphics solutions, but are less capable. Historically, integrated solutions were often considered unfit to play 3D games or run graphically intensive programs but could run less intensive programs such as Adobe Flash  Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery .

Examples of such IGPs would be offerings from SiS and VIA circa 2004.However, today's integrated solutions such as AMD's Radeon HD 3200 (AMD 780G chipset) and NVIDIA's GeForce 8200 (nForce 710|NVIDIA nForce 730a) are more than capable of handling 2D graphics from Adobe Flash or low stress 3D graphics  Sony VGP-BPS21B Battery .

However, most integrated graphics still struggle with high-end video games. Chips like the Nvidia GeForce 9400M in Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro and AMD's Radeon HD 3300 (AMD 790GX) have an improved performance, but still lag behind dedicated graphics cards      Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery .

Modern desktop motherboards often include an integrated graphics solution and have expansion slots available to add a dedicated graphics card later.

As a GPU is extremely memory intensive, an integrated solution may find itself competing for the already relatively slow system RAM with the CPU, as it has minimal or no dedicated video memory   Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery .

System RAM may be 2 Gbit/s to 12.8 Gbit/s, yet dedicated GPUs enjoy between 10 Gbit/s to over 100 Gbit/s of bandwidth depending on the model.

Older integrated graphics chipsets lacked hardware transform and lighting, but newer ones include it   Sony Vaio PCG-5G2L Battery .

Hybrid solutions

This newer class of GPUs competes with integrated graphics in the low-end desktop and notebook markets. The most common implementations of this are ATI's HyperMemory and NVIDIA'sTurboCache. Hybrid graphics cards are somewhat more expensive than integrated graphics, but much less expensive than dedicated graphics cards  Sony Vaio PCG-5G3L Battery .

These share memory with the system and have a small dedicated memory cache, to make up for the high latency of the system RAM. Technologies within PCI Express can make this possible. While these solutions are sometimes advertised as having as much as 768MB of RAM, this refers to how much can be shared with the system memory   Sony Vaio PCG-5J1L Battery .

Stream Processing and General Purpose GPUs (GPGPU)

A new concept is to use a general purpose graphics processing unit as a modified form of stream processor. This concept turns the massive floating-point computational power of a modern graphics accelerator's shader pipeline into general-purpose computing power, as opposed to being hard wired solely to do graphical operations          Sony Vaio PCG-5K2L Battery .

In certain applications requiring massive vector operations, this can yield several orders of magnitude higher performance than a conventional CPU. The two largest discrete (see "Dedicated graphics cards" above) GPU designers, ATI and NVIDIA, are beginning to pursue this new approach with an array of applications         Sony Vaio PCG-5J2L Battery .

Both nVidia and ATI have teamed with Stanford University to create a GPU-based client for the Folding@Home distributed computing project, for protein folding calculations. In certain circumstances the GPU calculates forty times faster than the conventional CPUs traditionally used by such applications       Sony Vaio PCG-5K1L Battery .

Furthermore, GPU-based high performance computers are starting to play a significant role in large-scale modelling. Three of the 5 most powerful supercomputers in the world take advantage of GPU acceleration. This includes the current leader as of October 2010, Tianhe-1A, which uses the NVIDIA Tesla platform     Sony Vaio PCG-5L1L Battery .

Recently NVidia began releasing cards supporting an API extension to the C programming language CUDA ("Compute Unified Device Architecture"), which allows specified functions from a normal C program to run on the GPU's stream processors   Sony Vaio PCG-6S2L Battery .

This makes C programs capable of taking advantage of a GPU's ability to operate on large matrices in parallel, while still making use of the CPU when appropriate. CUDA is also the first API to allow CPU-based applications to access directly the resources of a GPU for more general purpose computing without the limitations of using a graphics API   Sony Vaio PCG-6S3L Battery .

Since 2005 there has been interest in using the performance offered by GPUs for evolutionary computation in general, and for accelerating the fitness evaluation in genetic programming in particular. Most approaches compile linear or tree programs on the host PC and transfer the executable to the GPU to be run        Sony Vaio PCG-6V1L Battery .

Typically the performance advantage is only obtained by running the single active program simultaneously on many example problems in parallel, using the GPU's SIMD architecture.However, substantial acceleration can also be obtained by not compiling the programs, and instead transferring them to the GPU, to be interpreted there       Sony Vaio PCG-6W1L Battery .

Acceleration can then be obtained by either interpreting multiple programs simultaneously, simultaneously running multiple example problems, or combinations of both. A modern GPU (e.g. 8800 GTX or later) can readily simultaneously interpret hundreds of thousands of very small programs       Sony Vaio PCG-6W2L Battery .

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