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home : articles : A look at Full Scene Anti-Aliasing

Joe Glass
April 2, 2000

A look at Full Scene Anti-Aliasing
What is it and do we need it?

3dfx has been cranking up the hype machine for full scene anti-aliasing. FSAA, for which we will refer to abbreviated, is a technique which removes jagged lines from images. In the graphics world, this is a common technique for smoothing rough edges around lines of abrupt color change or distinct seperation. Aliasing especially apparent at low resolutions. For those that can remember way back in the days of DOS, first generation 3D games were severely aliased due to sub-640x480 screen resolutions. For example, games such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake 1 all began as DOS games running 320x200 with a 256 color palette. With the introduction of graphics accelerators, resolutions have increased and monitors have steadily increased in maximum resolutions. Today we can now view resolutions at 1600x1200 in true color with 3D acceleration. But it would seem that there's a stop gap between 1024x768 to 1600x1200. This is the illusive gray area where there's a significant discontinuity in users who have monitors that can reach such high resolutions. Graphics companies are left with a serious problem. Is it worth having 1600x1200 resolution rendering when most monitors today can only reach 1024x768 or 1280x1024 at reasonable refresh rates of at least 60hz? It certainly isn't cost effective and you can't really fool the average computer user into using 1600x1200 resolution just because it has better image quality. But on the other hand, lower resolutions introduce aliasing artifacts. The comprimise is to do FSAA.

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