It’s been awhile since I posted something here, and I figured I might use this spot to explain some general points about graphics hardware and software as of 2011; you can find functional descriptions of what the graphics stack in your PC does, but usually not the “how” or “why”; I’ll try to fill in the blanks without getting too specific about any particular piece of hardware. I’m going to be mostly talking about DX11-class hardware running D3D9/10/11 on Windows, because that happens to be the (PC) stack I’m most familiar with – not that the API details etc. will matter much past this first part; once we’re actually on the GPU it’s all native commands.
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