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Matt Craighead, NVIDIA Corporation (mcraighead 'at'
Copyright NVIDIA Corporation, 2001, 2002.
IP Status
No known IP issues.
Shipping (version 1.1)
NVIDIA Date: March 6, 2003 (version 1.3)
Written based on the wording of the OpenGL 1.3 specification.
Assumes support for the EXT_point_parameters extension.
Applications such as particle systems usually must use OpenGL quads
rather than points to render their geometry, since they would like to
use a custom-drawn texture for each particle, rather than the
traditional OpenGL round antialiased points, and each fragment in
a point has the same texture coordinates as every other fragment.
Unfortunately, specifying the geometry for these quads can be quite
expensive, since it quadruples the amount of geometry required, and
it may also require the application to do extra processing to compute
the location of each vertex.
The goal of this extension is to allow such apps to use points rather
than quads. When GL_POINT_SPRITE_NV is enabled, the state of point
antialiasing is ignored. For each texture unit, the app can then
specify whether to replace the existing texture coordinates with
point sprite texture coordinates, which are interpolated across the
point. Finally, the app can set a global parameter for the way to
generate the R coordinate for point sprites; the R coordinate can
either be zero, the input S coordinate, or the input R coordinate.
This allows applications to use a 3D texture to represent a point
sprite that goes through an animation, with filtering between frames,
for example.
* Should this spec say that point sprites get converted into quads?
RESOLVED: No, this would make the spec much uglier, because then
we'd have to say that polygon smooth and stipple get turned off,
etc. Better to provide a formula for computing the texture
coordinates and leave them as points.
* How are point sprite texture coordinates computed?
RESOLVED: They move smoothly as the point moves around on the
screen, even though the pixels touched by the point do not. The
exact formula is given in the spec. Note that point sprites' T
texture coordinate decreases, not increases, with Y; that is,
point sprite textures go top-down, not bottom-up.
* How do point sizes for point sprites work?
RESOLVED: The original NV_point_sprite spec treated point sprites
as being sized like aliased points, i.e., integral sizes only.
This was a mistake, because it can lead to visible popping
artifacts. In addition, it limits the size of points
This revised specification treats point sprite sizes more like
antialiased point sizes, but with more leniency. Implementations
may choose to not clamp the point size to the antialiased point
size range. The set of point sprite sizes available must be a
superset of the antialiased point sizes. However, whereas
antialiased point sizes are all evenly spaced by the point size
granularity, point sprites can have an arbitrary set of sizes.
This lets implementations use, e.g., floating-point sizes.
It is anticipated that this behavior change will not cause any
problems for compatibility. In fact, it should be beneficial to
* Should there be a way to query the list of supported point sprite
RESOLVED: No. If an implementation were to use, say, a single-
precision IEEE float to represent point sizes, the list would be
rather long.
* Do mipmaps apply to point sprites?
RESOLVED: Yes. They are similar to quads in this respect.
* What of this extension's state is per-texture unit and what
of this extension's state is state is global?
state are global. The COORD_REPLACE_NV state is per-texture unit
(state set by TexEnv is per-texture unit).
* Should we create an entry point for the R mode?
RESOLVED: No, we take advantage of the existing glPointParameter
interface. Unfortunately, EXT_point_parameters does not define a
PointParameteri entry point. This extension adds one. It could
live without, but it's a little annoying to have to use a float
interface to specify an enumerant.
This is definitely not TexEnv state, because it is global, not
per texture unit.
* What should the suffix for PointParameteri[v] be?
RESOLVED: NV. This is an NV extension, and therefore any new
entry points must be NV also. This is a bit less aesthetically
pleasing than matching the EXT suffixes of EXT_point_parameters,
but it is the right thing to do.
* Should there be a global on/off switch for point sprites, or
should the per-unit enable imply that switch?
RESOLVED: There is a global switch to turn it on and off. This
is probably more convenient for both driver and app, and it
simplifies the spec.
* What should the TexEnv mode for point sprites be called?
RESOLVED: After much deliberation, COORD_REPLACE_NV seems to be
* What is the motivation for each of the three point sprite R
The R mode is most convenient for applications that may already
be drawing their own "point sprites" by rendering quads. These
applications already need to put the R coordinate in R, and they
do not need to change their code.
The S mode is most convenient for applications that do not use
vertex programs, because it allows them to use TexCoord1 rather
than TexCoord3 to specify their third texture coordinate. This
reduces the size of the vertex data. Applications that use
vertex programs are largely unaffected by this, because they can
map the input S texture coordinate into the output R coordinate
if they so desire.
The zero mode may allow some applications to more easily obtain
the behavior they want out of the dot product functionality of
the NV_texture_shader extension. It reduces these dot products
from three-component dot products into two-component dot
products. In some implementations, it may also have higher
performance than the other modes.
There is no mode corresponding to the T or Q coordinates because
we cannot envision a scenario where such modes would be useful.
* What is the interaction with multisample points, which are round?
RESOLVED: Point sprites are rasterized as squares, even in
multisample mode. Leaving them as round points would make the
feature useless.
* How does the point sprite extension interact with fragment
program extensions (ARB_fragment_program, NV_fragment_program,
RESOLVED: The primary issue is how the interpolanted texture
coordinate set appears when fragment attribute variables
(ARB terminology) or fragment program attribute registers (NV
terminology) are accessed.
When point sprite is enabled and the GL_COORD_REPLACE_NV state for
a given texture unit is GL_TRUE, the texture coordinate set for
that texture unit is (s,t,r,1) where the point sprite-overriden
s, t, and r are described in the amended Section 3.3 below.
The important point is that q is forced to 1.
For fragment program extensions, q cooresponds to the w component
of the respective fragment attribute.
* What push/pop attribute bits control the state of this extension?
RESOLVED: POINT_BIT for all the state. Also ENABLE_BIT for
the POINT_SPRITE_NV enable.
New Procedures and Functions
void PointParameteriNV(enum pname, int param)
void PointParameterivNV(enum pname, const int *params)
New Tokens
Accepted by the <cap> parameter of Enable, Disable, and IsEnabled, by
the <pname> parameter of GetBooleanv, GetIntegerv, GetFloatv, and
GetDoublev, and by the <target> parameter of TexEnvi, TexEnviv,
TexEnvf, TexEnvfv, GetTexEnviv, and GetTexEnvfv:
When the <target> parameter of TexEnvf, TexEnvfv, TexEnvi, TexEnviv,
GetTexEnvfv, or GetTexEnviv is POINT_SPRITE_NV, then the value of
<pname> may be:
When the <target> and <pname> parameters of TexEnvf, TexEnvfv,
respectively, then the value of <param> or the value pointed to by
<params> may be:
Accepted by the <pname> parameter of PointParameteriNV,
PointParameterfEXT, PointParameterivNV, PointParameterfvEXT,
GetBooleanv, GetIntegerv, GetFloatv, and GetDoublev:
When the <pname> parameter of PointParameteriNV, PointParameterfEXT,
PointParameterivNV, or PointParameterfvEXT is
POINT_SPRITE_R_MODE_NV, then the value of <param> or the value
pointed to by <params> may be:
Additions to Chapter 2 of the OpenGL 1.3 Specification (OpenGL Operation)
Additions to Chapter 3 of the OpenGL 1.3 Specification (Rasterization)
Insert the following paragraphs after the second paragraph of section
3.3 (page 63):
"Point sprites are enabled or disabled by calling Enable or Disable
with the symbolic constant POINT_SPRITE_NV. The default state is for
point sprites to be disabled. When point sprites are enabled, the
state of the point antialiasing enable is ignored.
The point sprite R coordinate mode is set with one of the commands
void PointParameter{if}NV(enum pname, T param)
void PointParameter{if}vNV(enum pname, const T *params)
where pname is POINT_SPRITE_R_MODE_NV. The possible values for param
are ZERO, S, and R. The default value is ZERO.
The point sprite texture coordinate replacement mode is set with one
of the commands
void TexEnv{if}(enum target, enum pname, T param)
void TexEnv{if}v(enum target, enum pname, const T *params)
where target is POINT_SPRITE_NV and pname is COORD_REPLACE_NV. The
possible values for param are FALSE and TRUE. The default value for
each texture unit is for point sprite texture coordinate replacement
to be disabled."
Replace the first two sentences of the fourth paragraph of section
3.3 (page 63) with the following:
"The effect of a point width other than 1.0 depends on the state of
point antialiasing and point sprites. If antialiasing and point
sprites are disabled, ..."
Replace the first sentences of the sixth paragraph of section 3.3
(page 64) with the following:
"If antialiasing is enabled and point sprites are disabled, ..."
Insert the following paragraphs at the end of section 3.3 (page 66):
"When point sprites are enabled, then point rasterization produces a
fragment for each framebuffer pixel whose center lies inside a square
centered at the point's (x_w, y_w), with side length equal to the
current point size.
All fragments produced in rasterizing a point sprite are assigned the
same associated data, which are those of the vertex corresponding to
the point, with texture coordinates s, t, and r replaced with s/q,
t/q, and r/q, respectively. If q is less than or equal to zero, the
results are undefined. However, for each texture unit where
COORD_REPLACE_NV is TRUE, these texture coordinates are replaced with
point sprite texture coordinates. The s coordinate varies from 0 to
1 across the point horizontally, while the t coordinate varies from 0
to 1 vertically. The r coordinate depends on the value of
POINT_SPRITE_R_MODE_NV. If this is set to ZERO, then the r
coordinate is set to zero. If it is set to S, then the r coordinate
is set to the s texture coordinate before coordinate replacement
takes place. If it is set to R, then the r coordinate is set to the
r texture coordinate before coordinate replacement takes place.
The following formula is used to evaluate the s and t coordinates:
s = 1/2 + (x_f + 1/2 - x_w) / size
t = 1/2 - (y_f + 1/2 - y_w) / size
where size is the point's size, x_f and y_f are the (integral) window
coordinates of the fragment, and x_w and y_w are the exact, unrounded
window coordinates of the vertex for the point.
The widths supported for point sprites must be a superset of those
supported for antialiased points. There is no requirement that these
widths must be equally spaced. If an unsupported width is requested,
the nearest supported width is used instead."
Replace the text of section 3.3.1 (page 66) with the following:
"The state required to control point rasterization consists of the
floating-point point width, a bit indicating whether or not
antialiasing is enabled, a bit indicating whether or not point
sprites are enabled, the current value of the point sprite R
coordinate mode, and a bit for the point sprite texture coordinate
replacement mode for each texture unit."
Replace the text of section 3.3.2 (page 66) with the following:
"If MULTISAMPLE is enabled, and the value of SAMPLE_BUFFERS is one,
then points are rasterized using the following algorithm, regardless
of whether point antialiasing (POINT_SMOOTH) is enabled or disabled.
Point rasterization produces a fragment for each framebuffer pixel
with one or more sample points that intersect a region centered at
the point's (x_w, y_w). This region is a circle having diameter
equal to the current point width if POINT_SPRITE_NV is disabled, or
a square with side equal to the current point width if
POINT_SPRITE_NV is enabled. Coverage bits that correspond to sample
points that intersect the region are 1, other coverage bits are 0.
All data associated with each sample for the fragment are the data
associated with the point being rasterized, with the exception of
texture coordinates when POINT_SPRITE_NV is enabled; these texture
coordinates are computed as described in section 3.3.
Point size range and number of gradations are equivalent to those
supported for antialiased points when POINT_SPRITE_NV is disabled.
The set of point sizes supported is equivalent to those for point
sprites without multisample when POINT_SPRITE_NV is enabled."
Additions to Chapter 4 of the OpenGL 1.3 Specification (Per-Fragment
Operations and the Frame Buffer)
Additions to Chapter 5 of the OpenGL 1.3 Specification (Special Functions)
Additions to Chapter 6 of the OpenGL 1.3 Specification (State and
State Requests)
GLX Protocol
Two new GL rendering commands are added. The following commands are
sent to the server as part of a glXRender request:
2 12 rendering command length
2 4221 rendering command opcode
4 ENUM pname
0x8126 n==1 POINT_SIZE_MIN_ARB
0x8127 n==1 POINT_SIZE_MAX_ARB
4 INT32 param
2 8+4*n rendering command length
2 4222 rendering command opcode
4 ENUM pname
0x8126 n==1 POINT_SIZE_MIN_ARB
0x8127 n==1 POINT_SIZE_MAX_ARB
4*n LISTofINT32 params
New State
(table 6.12, p. 220)
Get Value Type Get Command Initial Value Description Sec Attribute
--------- ---- ----------- ------------- ----------- ------ ---------
POINT_SPRITE_NV B IsEnabled False point sprite enable 3.3 point/enable
POINT_SPRITE_R_MODE_NV Z3 GetIntegerv ZERO R coordinate mode 3.3 point
(table 6.17, p. 225)
Get Value Type Get Command Initial Value Description Sec Attribute
--------- ---- ----------- ------------- ----------- ------ ---------
COORD_REPLACE_NV 2* x B GetTexEnviv False coordinate replacement 3.3 point
NVIDIA Implementation Details
This extension was first supported for GeForce4 Ti only in NVIDIA's
Release 25 drivers. Future drivers will support this extension on
all GeForce products.
However, the extension is only hardware-accelerated on the GeForce3
and GeForce4 Ti platforms. In addition, there are restrictions on
the cases that are accelerated on the GeForce3.
In order to ensure that you get hardware acceleration on GeForce3,
make sure that:
1. The point sprite R mode is set to GL_ZERO. (This is the default.)
2. Coordinate replacement is turned on for texture unit 3 and for no
other texture units. This is non-obvious; using texture unit zero
will _not_ be accelerated. Also, if coordinate replacement is off
for _all_ texture units, that's also unaccelerated.
So, in the typical usage case where you just want a single texture on
some points, you should enable TEXTURE_2D on unit 3 but disable it on
unit zero.
The GeForce4 Ti platform supports point sprites as large as 8192, but
the spacing between sizes becomes larger as the size increases. All
other platforms do not support point sprite sizes above 64.
ATI Implementation Details
This extension is supported on the Radeon 8000 series and later
In order to ensure that Radeon 8000 series will accelerate point
sprite rendering using TCL hardware, make sure that the point sprite
R mode is set to GL_ZERO. (This is the default.)
Radeon 8000 series can render points as large as 2047.
Revision History
June 4, 2002 - Added implementation details section. Fixed a typo in
the overview. Changed behavior of point sizes so that fractional
sizes are allowed and so that implementations can support large point
sprites or use floating-point point size representations.
Significant rewrite of spec language to cover this new point size
July 5, 2002 - Finished GLX protocol.
March 6, 2003 - Added issue to clarify Q handling for fragment
program extensions. Added issue to clarify push/pop attrib handling.
Adjusted state tables so COORD_REPLACE_NV state appears in the
texture environment and generation table.