Nintendo patents displacement mapping

Written by Wil Harris

December 12, 2005 | 06:57

Tags: #mapping #patent #revolution #texture

Companies: #nintendo

Regular readers of the graphics articles on the site will know all about displacement mapping. It's a method by which low-polygon models can be overlaid with a texture that gives the appearance of depth, enabling a low-poly model to appear fantastically detailed. It's a technique used to great effect in the latest Xbox 360 titles such as Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo.

Well, Nintendo are obviously planning on using it in the upcoming Revolution console, since they've patented a couple of items relating to it, according to Playbomb:

"Nintendo has filed two patents concerning displacement mapping, which is a technique that is used to render detailed surfaces while successfully simultaneously keeping polygon count low.

One involves a specialist hardware for vector operations, thus optimising the grahpics hardware so that the displacement mapping is computed efficiently. The other method reduces the strain put on the CPU that is caused by rendering a 3d world in 2d."

Interesting - the Revolution appears to contain dedicated hardware for vector calculations, a feature that could really speed up many operations, not just displacement mapping. Could this be a feature of the 'Broadway' ATI graphics chipset inside the console, or will this be a mainboard / CPU feature?

We'll find out more in the new year, if reports about the Revolution's unveiling are to be believed. Until then, why not speculate with abandon in the forums?
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