NVIDIA's GeForce4 Ti Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) are changing the face of lighting techniques for PC graphics by being the first to bring hardware acceleration for realistic shadows to consumer PCs. NVIDIA shadow buffer technology closes the gap between PC gaming and cinematic-style special effects for realistic, real-time shadows.
Until now, lighting techniques for real-time computer graphics were missing a key element: realistic shadows. Artists and photographers have always known the power of lighting and shadows. In fact, black-and-white film is still used for artistic photography because of the powerful effects that lighting and shadows, even without color, have on people. These same effects can be used to captivate users and draw them into real-time graphics environments.
The NVIDIA shadow buffer technique utilized by the GeForce3 Ti processors involves creating a map of which objects are lighted in a scene. This map is then stored in a shadow buffer so that it can be used later and accessed like a texture through the special shadow buffer hardware located in the GeForce3 Ti texture engine. This technique is faster and more hardware efficient.