One of the nice things about Vista is that they rewrote the display architecture to be a composition engine. Every window gets some off screen memory to display itself to and then all these windows are composited together onto the desktop. This means that the windows are totally independent from what they are rendered over and that it’s possible to stick effects into the composition pipeline. Vista’s Aero Glass interface is a simple demonstration of the power of this new architecture. The “glass” effect is the ability to tag regions of the window as being “glass” and then these areas are composited with whatever parts of the desktop are underneath the regions and then blurred with a hard coded pixel shader to give the impression of a frosted glass edge to Aero Glass enabled windows. Sadly, the Basic version of Vista can’t run Aero Glass. But if you’re running the Premium, Business, or Ultimate versions and you have some recent (i.e. DX9) hardware , you’re all set. That a look! You can find the article here.
At the GDC, graphics chip maker NVIDIA announced they are releasing a bunch of updated and new tools. The tool upgrades are: FX Composer 2, PerfHUD 5, ShaderPerf 2. They are also releasing a new GPU-accelerated texture tool, plus a Shader Library. The most interesting toolkit is the DX10 SDK. Targeted towards the GeForce 8 series of GPU (the only GPU that can run D3D10 so far), it’s a collection of samples for both OpenGL and DirectX, executables and source, that demonstrate and showcase DX10 features. The installer looks and acts like the Microsoft DX Sampler.
The DirectX collection makes up the bulk of the samples, while the OpenGL side is a bit thin. The samples include Rain, Smoke, Fur, Shadows, cloth simulation, Render Target usage, etc. The Direct3D SDK is 256MB while the OpenGL SDK is 45MB.
To compile the source you’ll need Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 plus have the Feb. 2007 DirectX SDK installed (which you can get here.) if you want to compile the DX samples.
If you actually want to run the code you’ll need a DirectX10 video card – which currently means an NVIDIA GeForce 8. There are videos of the programs so even if you don’t have a DX10 video card you can still see the programs running.