NVIDIA Unleashes C for Graphics

NVIDIA Corp. stepped forward Thursday with a new language standard intended to radically simplify graphics programming.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based semiconductor maker is best known for creating advanced 2D, 3D, video graphics and multimedia processing technology for the consumer and professional computing markets.

Developed in collaboration with Microsoft Corp. , the Cg Specification — C for Graphics — is a programming language that gives content developers the tools to create real-time cinematic renderings with greater speed and without the need to program directly to the graphics hardware, which can be a slow and difficult process.

With the C-like syntax development of real-time shaders and visual effects for graphics platforms, Cg enables developers to create, share, and re-use shaders for richer, more cinematic visual effects. Cg is also compatible with Microsoft’s recently announced High Level Shading Language for DirectX 9.0.

“We are entering a brave new world of graphics software development,” said Peter Glaskowsky, editor-in-chief of the Microprocessor Report, In-Stat MDR. “The announcement of Cg signals a revolution in computer graphics, and for the first time in years, we can say this without exaggerating.”

Cg has already been greeted warmly by the game developer and digital content creator communities, according to Jen Hsun Huang, NVIDIA’s CEO, who in a like-minded announcement unveiled the Cg Toolkit to complement the Cg Specification.

The Cg Toolkit will be made available to developers attending the London-based conference “The Gathering 2” on June 13-14 and includes a Cg Compiler, Cg Browser, CgFX file format, Cg Standard Library, and a collection of pre-written Cg shaders which can be used for game development, digital content creation, and computer-aided design.

The toolkit will also be available for download from the company’s site starting June 13.

The Cg Compiler is a cross platform that generates optimized graphics assembly programs for real-time visual effects and was designed to take full advantage of NVIDIA’s GPU features and pipeline. The resulting program is a more advanced vertex or pixel shader that is equal to or better than hand-coded graphics programs, according to the company. The Cg Compiler also supports programs written for Windows, OS X, Linux, Mac and Xbox.

“By taking care of the painstaking work required to optimize special effects for today’s GPUs, Cg will make the developer’s life much easier,” said Dan Vivoli, vice president of marketing at NVIDIA. “Because we do the heavy lifting with our Cg Compiler, developers can spend more time on the creative side of game development. This begins a new era of dramatically compelling story telling.”

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