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a computer program that runs on graphics hardware and provides a high degree of control over how scenes are rendered


In the field of computer graphics, a shader is a computer program that is used primarily to calculate rendering effects on graphics hardware with a high degree of flexibility. Shaders are used to program the graphics processing unit (GPU) programmable rendering pipeline, which has mostly superseded the fixed-function pipeline that allowed only common geometry transformation and pixel-shading functions; with shaders, customized effects can be used.

Types of Shaders

  • Vertex Shaders - Manipulates vertex data.
  • Pixel Shaders - Determines the color that each pixel should have.
  • Geometry Shaders - Generate new graphical primitives based on the ones it receives.
  • Compute Shaders - Computes arbitrary information. Supported from OpenGL 4.3 and Direct3D 10.
  • Mesh and Task Shaders - Brings the compute programming model to the geometry pipeline, replacing vertex and tessellation shaders.

Popular Languages

  • HLSL
  • GLSL
  • Metal Shading Language
  • Cg

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